At Natural Spa Factory, we're proud to say that all of our skincare is Cruelty Free - we're wholeheartedly against animal testing with skincare. For us, it's core part of our existence. We're animal lovers, of course (who isn't?!), but we're also keen to ensure that our impact on the planet is only kind. Many brands claim to create cruelty free products - but what does that actually mean? There are a lot of grey areas - and we're going to explore a few, expose a couple of fallacies and tell you exactly what Cruelty Free Products means to us...
WHAT ARE CRUELTY FREE PRODUCTS? HERE'S THE MEANING OF CRUELTY FREE...
Back to basics. Cruelty free skincare is a frequently used phrase. It refers to cosmetic testing on animals. Cosmetic testing is done to test the hypoallergenic properties of products for use by humans. Thankfully, cosmetic testing on animals is banned in the EU, India, Israel and Norway. However, it can include the testing of individual ingredients or finished product on animals - often rabbits, mice, and rats. Disturbingly, testing can range from shaving a patch of fur and applying a small swab to determine sensitivity, to injecting lethal amounts of chemicals, often causing seizure, loss of motor function or death.
IS COSMETIC TESTING ON ANIMALS LEGAL IN THE UK?
To reiterate: No. Since March 2013, it has also been illegal to sell cosmetic products within the EU which have been, or which contain ingredients, newly tested on animals. However... this doesn't mean that skincare companies selling in the UK don't test on animals. Confusing we know; a bit more information.
HOWEVER, MANY BRITISH BRANDS DO TEST ON ANIMALS...
It is required by law that any products made outside of China are tested on animals before they can be sold in China. So, that means that many big brands are testing on animals, and they are not creating cruelty free products. Some of the big brands that we're all familiar with, and are reported to test on animals, include: Avon. Benefit. Estee Lauder. Clinique. Maybeline. OPI. You get the picture. Moving on...
(We understand that there are nuances with animal testing in China - it's not totally black and white. Discover the infographic from cruelty free Blogger Ethical Elephant - it explains things in a clear and easy way).
'SECRET' ANIMAL CRUELTY: PALM OIL PRODUCTS
If only it were as easy as looking at the legalities: we think it's time to look at ingredient provenance, too. We're proud to take our Cruelty Free pledge further than most: as a result, we do not use Palm Oil in any of our products. Why is this important? Because palm oil is used in many beauty and skincare products. A form of vegetable oil, palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis Guineensis). Worryingly, it has become one of the world’s most widely-produced oils and is a key ingredient in many cosmetic products.
THE UGLY TRUTH BEHIND PALM OIL TREES
Tropical rain forests have been cleared on a massive scale to make room for palm tree plantations. Some sources quote that areas of rain forest equivalent to the size of 5 football pitches disappear every minute due to palm oil cultivation. However, this level of deforestation of course has shocking consequences. Mainly: an increase in greenhouse gas production, and habitat destruction. This habitat destruction is having terrible consequences on animals. Consequently, the Orangutan population is in steep decline, and Sumatran tigers are also suffering (the deforestation leaves them an open target to poachers). The 2018 Christmas Iceland advert demonstrates the devastating effects of palm oil in a poignant way; originally commissioned by Greenpeace, it graphically demonstrates the destruction that palm oil production is inflicting on the planet. Therefore, any products with palm oil are NOT cruelty free products.
SO, SKINCARE COMPANIES STILL USING PALM OIL ARE NOT CRUELTY FREE IN OUR EYES!
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE AND IT'S MARINE IMPACT
Another culprit: SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate). A popular ingredient in a huge number of skincare products. However, SLS has been proven to filter into marine life, effecting the hormone levels in dolphins (among others). You can read more about SLS, and why we don't use it, in our Green Beauty Blog.
PLASTICS IN THE OCEAN
Slight cross-over here with another core value: we're massively environmentally friendly. From the ingredients we use, to the packaging we present products in. As a result, every step of the way, we monitor our impact on the environment. If only the same could be said for all beauty and skincare companies. By not making environmentally sound choices, plastics are still suffocating our oceans and marine life. Another animal cruelty issue, we think...
AND OF COURSE... THE MICROBEADS BAN
In February this year, the long awaited ban on microbeads came in to effect. As a result, cosmetics and personal care products in the UK can no longer contain plastic microbeads. It is estimated that between 15 and 51 trillion microplastic particles have accumulated in the ocean. It's estimated Europe alone flushes between 80,000 and 219,000 tonnes of microplastics into the sea each year. Worryingly, once in the marine environment microplastics can both release and absorb toxins, which can then move throughout the food chain.
WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE TO MICROBEADS?
Luckily for us, we've never used microbeads. We have always only ever used natural ingredients in our exfoliating skincare and body care. This includes: salt, sugar, fruit pulp and seeds, volcanic sand, finely ground rice, olive stone, coffee - to name a few. You can discover over 18 different types of natural scrub here.
OUR CRUELTY FREE LOGO
You'll see this pop up around our products, website and social media channels regularly. It's to reinforce our most important core value. That we only believe in cruelty free skincare and ingredients.