Last night, in an effort to relax, I scoured YouTube for tutorials on cruelty free makeup, hair care, morning routines, anything I hadn't tried or heard of before. I certainly learned about a lot of cool products, and I'm a sucker for beauty talk.
Makeup has been a part of my life since I was about 11 years old. I remember sneaking to my locker to put on some concealer, only to find out later I was putting on shimmery eye-shadow. In fact, the first time I ever used makeup, I thought eye "shadow" was literally a shadow underneath your eyes, so I came downstairs to show my dad the glittery purple and blue shadow I spread underneath my eyes all over my face. His response was so sweet, he just calmly said, "Dear, I think it' supposed to go above your eyes, but nice try". That was my perfect "Oh...shit" moment as a blossoming young preteen.
Over the years I was allowed (more or less) to experiment with colors, liners, blush, anything I could get my hands on. There were many days I was sent back upstairs to wipe off the mess I had created, especially during my emo phase. I would just like to say that mom, you were right. Thank you for not letting me leave the house looking like I did. The effort is appreciated, if only I hadn't snuck my makeup onto the school bus to re-apply it. Darn that rebellious streak... Well... It came from my mom so what can I say?
Finally, after years of partial knowledge I learned from God knows where, I discovered the magic of YouTube tutorials after searching for way to tease the living daylight out of my hair. Since then, my makeup is brighter, more natural, better applied, and much better looking. Then I moved out of the house to Boston. I was a functioning young adult who could buy whatever her little heart desired, and I did some research about different products. That was when I discovered Pinterest. Don't worry, I won't go into the addiction I developed to saving wedding pins and interior design ideas, but this definitely happened later.
The first thing that I actually discovered on Pinterest was a page about the horrors of animal cruelty. I watched the Lush video about the actress who publicly endured the same torture that animals go through in the cosmetic industry, but out on the streets of London for the world to see. It was so disturbing but it outraged me. How could this still be happening to animals? Didn't we know better? I saw the videos of animals caged, the heartbreaking damage to their poor little bodies, the videos of them being freed after years of testing, and then came all of the realizations. Everything I was using was tested on animals.
I came to a choice. Do I throw away all of my products and go broke trying to replenish? Did I even deserve to wear makeup? Or should I continue using what I had and the minute it ran out, go out and replace it with something better?
I settled on the latter, being a broke college student in a new city. But I did my research. I looked everywhere for affordable products for not only makeup, but hair care, house cleaners, any product that I had the need to use in my lifetime. Many people claim that switching to a cruelty free lifestyle is too expensive. I was happily surprised, it isn't too expensive if you put in the time to care.
Since then, I have made the firm decision to never buy a product that's been tested on animals ever again. This has not been a perfect transition of course, I make mistakes all the time. Sometimes the rhetoric is misleading, sometimes it used to be cruelty free and now it isn't, sometimes the parent company is not cruelty free but the company I want to support is.
There are a lot of ethical questions that rise when choosing this lifestyle, and honestly, I'm glad. It has made me aware of where my money is going, and I've been introduced to so many small and large companies that I feel proud to invest in. The good news is, these brands have only become more popular as people start to see the value in cruelty free products. They are often more natural formulas, and I have never found that I have sacrificed quality. If anything, the quality is infinitely better.
If you're thinking about cruelty free, I urge you to do it. It is a little extra time and effort to make the ethical decision about which brands and products you choose to invest your money in. What harm ever came from making a well thought-out decision verses going along with the popular opinion? No change is too small, just one new purchase can make a difference. This is more than just fighting for animal rights, this is about fighting the blind capitalist impulse to buy buy buy anything that a television or magazine says solves all your problems. Invest in the things that make you feel better and that you believe in.
Here are some links about which products are cruelty free or not:
Here are some of my personal favorite products: