A recent nationwide poll showed 71% of adults oppose animal testing, and in another poll respondents said that they would stop purchasing their favorite skincare and makeup products if they involved any form of animal testing. These viewpoints emphasize the importance of turning your massage practice into a cruelty-free space.
The Problems with Animal Testing
Carbon dioxide chambers, electroejaculation devices, guillotines, restraint chains, shock plates, dissection (sans anesthesia) and lethal dose tests are not the first practices that come to our minds when we think about body-care1. The reality is that such torture devices—yes, that is how they should be defined— are strongly linked to the manufacturing practices of all sorts of cosmetic products.
PETA claims that “each year, more than 110 million animals—including mice, frogs, dogs, rabbits, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in U.S. laboratories” 2. For the sake of beauty, we are willing to traumatize and kill innocent and defenseless creatures.
Even though the FDA advocates the development and implementation of alternative testing, it also justifies the usage of animal experimentation methods if and whenever companies deem it necessary in order to ensure that both the ingredients and final cosmetic formulas are safe for humans3.
An emphasis is placed on making those methods as “ethical and humane” as possible by obtaining the maximum amount of applicable scientific data with minimum animal sacrifice3.
The question remains as to how to reduce the pain and damage that body-care companies inflict upon living beings. Judging by the graphic evidence that has bombarded all media, this feat seems practically impossible.
A much different scenario is taking place internationally, with the European Union paving the way of the cruelty-free movement back in 2013. Today, 41 countries, including Australia, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey4, have followed suit and completely banned or limited animal testing for cosmetic purposes. It is hard to believe that the U.S. is lagging so far behind in this matter considering the amazing testing innovation that is available nationwide.
While consumers are not lawmakers, we have the power to turn this unfortunate situation around. In an effort to achieve that aim, we will devote this article to explaining what cruelty free truly means and why it is essential that cruelty-free products become part of every massage therapist’s business plan.
Cruelty Free: The Definition
Cruelty free means that the ingredients or products in question have not been tested on animals. It´s that simple5. What is not simple is the process of attaining such status. Many companies have designed their own cruelty-free logos—which usually include a bunny— in an attempt to convince customers that no animals were harmed in the process of manufacturing its products.
This couldn´t be farther from the truth, as nobody should ever fall prey of claims that can´t be substantiated by a third-party assessment. Those logos are highly misleading and do not guarantee anything, except being able to make money off of consumers who are not properly informed.
Although there are a few accredited cruelty-free logos on the market, the one that you should be looking for in every single cosmetic packaging is the Leaping Bunny Standard. This logo is regulated by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) in both the U.S. and Canada, and Cruelty Free International (abroad). Because these logos are standardized, they require brands to commit to a stringent supplier monitoring system to certify that their supply-chain management is free of animal testing6:
• Undergo independent audits.
• Recommit annually to the program.
• Suppliers must submit documents that prove their compliance with the standard.
• Final product should never be tested on animals.
• Companies will not be allowed to sell their products in markets that require animal experimentation.
• Animal derived ingredients are permitted as long as their extraction/manufacture does not involve any form of cruelty, such as beeswax.
• Leaping Bunny states that brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals can be certified but they “must promise to operate as stand-alone subsidiaries with their own supply chains and must continue to meet the requirements of the Leaping Bunny Standard in order to remain on our list.”
It is interesting to note that there are no legal definitions for the term “cruelty free,”7 but relying on a standard like the Leaping Bunny does guarantee one the cruelty-free status of an ingredient or product6.
Why Is It Crucial To Go Cruelty Free?
The most compelling evidence against animal testing comes from the fact that 95% of the drugs that were shown to be safe and effective in animal trials do not offer any human benefit—or cause severe damage8. Of the remaining 5%, half has to be relabeled due to the side effects that could not be predicted in animal tests.
This shows that, at some point, the ingredients or final products will have to be tested on human subjects8.Furthermore, modern science has allowed humans to develop such non-animal testing methods as computer modeling, in vitro testing, human-patient stimulators, and research with human volunteers that are more accurate, affordable and rapid9.
Those who focus on sales should know that cruelty free products increase both loyalty and purchase intention; this phenomenon is known as ethical consumerism10.
The rationale behind such behavior is that customers believe they are making a socially responsible purchase10. In 2021, the demand for cruelty free cosmetics reached the skyrocketing figure of $5.45 billion and is expected to hit the $9.9 billion mark by 203111.
All this data is consistent with a nationwide poll conducted two years ago in which 71% of adults oppose animal testing12. In another survey, respondents affirmed that they would stop purchasing their favorite skincare and makeup products if they involved any form of animal testing 13. The stance of customers regarding this issue is crystal clear and emphasizes the importance in turning your massage practice into a cruelty free space.
There is no justification whatsoever for animal testing in the beauty-care industry. There is no real benefit that we as humans can derive from such practice, and it is impossible not to exert some form of torture while carrying out the different forms of animal experimentation.
Most importantly, animals do not have a way of consenting to them. We have absolutely no right to make that decision for them either. All species have an equally important role to fulfill in this world. The idea put forward by the speciesism theory that other living beings are inferior to man—and, hence, are “at his service”—is unethical.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel, though, as seven states—California, Nevada, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, Maine and New Jersey14— have followed into the footsteps of the EU, as well as other countries, and recently banned animal testing in nearly all cosmetics14.
Your mission as a massage therapist is to only use in your services body-care products that are cruelty-free verified and demand that those companies who still rely on animal testing change their policies. These actions will benefit the planet and your business, and will enhance your reputation and as a health practitioner.
About the Author
Ishtar Mubarak wrote this article on behalf of Sekan Beauty, a family-owned, San Francisco-based company consciously reimagining skin care and beauty. A certified medical esthetician and aromatherapist with 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, she was awarded a baccalaureate degree in cosmetology as well as a bachelor’s degree in cosmetology and clinical psychology. Mubarak holds several certifications in advanced medical esthetics and holistic nutrition. She specializes in sensitive skin and clean beauty. She also wrote “Aromatherapy: The Scented Path to Health.”
3 FDA: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/product-testing-cosmetics/animal-testing-cosmetics. Accessed on March 30, 2022.
4The Human Society of The United States: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cosmetics-testing-faq#banned. Accessed on March 30, 2022. Accessed on March 30, 2022.
6 Leaping Bunny Program: https://www.leapingbunny.org/frequently-asked-questions. Accessed on March 30, 2022.
9 PETA: https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-animal-testing/. Accessed on March 30, 2022.
10 Cadete, B. How cruelty-free logos influence Consumer´s Purchase Intention. The Effects of Brand Image, Logo Awareness and Moral Obligation. 2021; 25-36.
13 Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/753451/consume-attitudes-makeup-animal-testing-age/. Accessed on March 30, 2022.
14 Animal Legal Defense Fund: https://aldf.org/article/california-bans-the-sale-of-most-cosmetics-tested-on-animals/. Accessed on March 30, 2022.