"Not tested on animals", the label and its meaning
Today´s post is going to be about a common misunderstanding we see coming up all the time.
Earlier this morning, a girl in a facebook group asked if a shampoo from the well known multinational company Garnier was ok, since it said that it was "not tested on animals" and vegan.
We have already talked about what cruelty-free beauty is, what the most important standards are or which certifications to look for. If you haven´t read it yet, you can check our Guide to Vegan and Cruelty-free Cosmetics or our How to survive in the cruelty-free certifications world.
We know that the topic is very difficult, since there is so much contradictory information circulating, especially online, and so much one should know about. Nevertheless, it is essential to educate ourselves not to fall into the "traps" and support the right brands.
But let´s just get into it: what does the label "not tested on animals" mean and why it is used if it is not true?
Answer: this label only means the finished product has not been tested on animals.
Since animal testing for cosmetic products has become illegal since 2013, and this goes for the finished product as well as its ingredients, this label does not mean anything.
When you see this label and the brand does not hold any additional cruelty-free certification, they are basically, tricking you, stating something that must be true since required by law already.
When seeing it this way, every cosmetic brand selling in Europe should be cruelty-free, but there are two key aspects which can make, even an European brand or those distributing in the EU, not cruelty-free:
1. Distributing in China
A brand may sell its products in Europe but then distribute them in China, selling it through shops, retailers and so on.
When this is the case, even finished products already tested in other countries need to be re-tested again since it is required by law. Keep in mind that China is a huge market and an incredibly profitable opportunity for many brands, so the majority of them is distributing there.
Even if this is a contradiction to the European Ban of 2013 (which states that even companies not manufacturing their products in Europe do not have to conduct animal testing if they want to sell in the EU) it is still possible and allowed for a brand to test when required by law in China.
An exception goes for selling online, so when a brand is selling its product directly to Chinese consumers. But even in this case, there is absolutely no guarantee that the products do not have to be re-tested again if required by the authorities. The situation is still very unsure and even selling online may be a risk.
Our advice is to stay away also from all those brands that distribute online, to avoid any possibilities of supporting animal testing. Remember that the decision to sell to China, even online, is always just money-driven for a brand and there is really just no point in supporting this when it is not necessary and can be a potential risk.
2. The European ban does not cover other industries
If you think that whatever cosmetic product sold in Europe is automatically cruelty-free, you are wrong.
Animal testing may have been banned on cosmetics but it is still required for other industries such as the pharmaceutical one, the food one, the manufacturing of household products and so on.
A cosmetic company may well purchase ingredients that have been tested for other industries, even recently, and use it as a new ingredient for their products, since the testing wasn´t made for the cosmetic industry but served other purposes.
Crazy right? Another contradiction. It happens more than what you think.
This is the reason why you need a reliable certification which impose a CUT-OFF DATE, which basically tells the brand to only use all those ingredients which have been tested up until a specific date (usually 2013) and avoid all those ones which were formulated afterwards.
This is currently the only reliable method in Europe to shop cruelty-free.
As we have mentioned in other posts, keep in mind that Europe is currently one of the most advanced continent when it comes to banning animal testing, and if even here there is still so much to consider and you can´t just buy from the first cosmetic brand you find, just think of how even more important it is to buy from only certified brands in your own country.
A brand itself, does not know if animal testing is occurring at any stages of the supply chain, which by the way, often involves many third parties causing information to get lost. It is not a brand that usually conducts animal testing, is their suppliers of raw materials that do!
Please keep that in mind, as every brand will of course tell you that they are cruelty-free!
This may be true in some ways, since they just do not know it and aren´t often able to say it with certainty, especially if they are not manufacturing their products themselves. But even in this case, chances are they purchase extra ingredients from third parties again, as it is very rare that a brand manufactures ALL ingredients itself.
So as you can see, many companies are just playing with you knowing the majority of people is unaware of the truth. And this always comes to their advantage.
We hope this post was helpful, let us know in the comments if you have any further questions or if anything is unsure.
We are aware that this is such a difficult topic, so we are always here to help you!