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5 Things You Need to Know about Cruelty Free Beauty

The vegan and cruelty free trend has reached beauty products. In the beauty industry, ‘vegan’ means a product is free of ingredients from animals. However that does not necessitate that the product is ‘cruelty free’ (not tested on animals). Here are 5 things you need to know about cruelty free beauty.

1. Substitutes for Animal Products
Right now more cosmetic firms are substituting plant extracts and minerals for animal and insect byproducts. Vegan constraints can be pretty strict, prohibiting beeswax (mascaras), milk (soaps), collage (cows), and carmine (color from beetle shells), or animal hair (makeup brushes). Many people may wonder what could possibly substitute? Herbal extracts can be used for cleansing, iron oxides for pigments, and sea algae can be used for anti-aging products.

2. Legislation
European companies have already ceased animal testing on cosmetics. The March 2009 Cosmetics Directive bans animal tests to determine the safety of cosmetics ingredients and products in the European Union. It even bans the sale in the EU of cosmetics whose ingredients have been animal-tested elsewhere. There will be an exception for tests for repeated dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and toxiokinetics until March 2013. Europe’s Cosmetic Directive already has had an impact worldwide. For instance, in November 2009, Shiseido announced that it will boost efforts to reduce animal testing.

3. Progress in alternatives to animal testing
In Dec, 2009, a product called TOXICHIP was created with Irish government funding to replace animal testing currently used in toxicity screening. It works by monitoring how cells interact with drugs or substances in food or products. The cosmetics industry and the European Commission plan to continue stimulating research into alternative safety testing methods and to reduce the use of animal testing. The European Cosmetics Association will also help with the financing. Episkin, an artificial skin grown from human cells by scientists at L'Oréal allows researchers to rate a chemical’s toxicity by how many lab-grown cells it kills. Another process involves using a MetaChip (a glass slide coated with liver enzymes) with a DataChip (a slide covered with live human tissue cells from various tissues) to test whether new drug candidates will become toxic in the liver.

4. Effects on humans
Without animal testing, companies will have to be especially careful with the ingredients they are using. For instance, hair dyes contain arylamines, which have an allergic potential with humans and showed an increase in bladder cancer risk in a 2001 study. Now a technique of testing a one-hundredth "microdose" on humans early in the research could limit extra rounds of animal trials. Using radioactive yet nontoxic tracers, scientists can track a drug's activity in the body and decide if it warrants further animal testing.

5. Buy in from big brands
Major lines are going vegan and cruelty free. Origins doesn’t use animal products other than cruelty-free honey and bees wax, and Urban Decay has a selection of vegan items. Other major brands that are cruelty free include Revlon, Almay, Milani, Bonne Bell, Physician’s Formula, and Prestige. Although vegan beauty can be pricier than most drugstore brands, it’s still less expensive than department store cosmetics. Rite Aid now has the eco-friendly hair care line David Babaii for WildAid, developed by actress Kate Hudson and her hairstylist David Babaii. The WildAid products are sulfate free, paraben free, free from animal products and, free from animal testing. This line also donates 10% of its profits to the global wildlife conservation organization WildAid.

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