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Easing the Challenges of Going Cruelty Free

Jean Knight, White Rabbit Beauty, December 23, 2013

"What has been your biggest challenge in switching to cruelty free?" That question, asked at White Rabbit's Leaping Bunny Giveaway, received 1,352 responses. Here is a summary of the responses, along with suggestions to help with the challenges.

What has been your biggest challenge in switching to cruelty free?

Here are the biggest challenges that you identified. The percentage of you naming each as challenge is in parentheses (the percentages add up to more than 100% because some people mentioned more than one challenge).

  • Availability, especially local availability (named by 32%)
  • Cost (named by 27%)
  • Selection (named by 27%)
  • Knowing which products are truly cruelty free, including free of animal-derived ingredients, etc. (named by 17%)
  • Other (named by 14%)

The following products were identified as particular challenges, due to lack of selection, affordability, or effectiveness of existing products:

  1. Makeup (70 mentions), with foundation (13) and mascara (16) named in particular
  2. Deodorant (45 mentions) and anti-perspirant (8 mentions)
  3. Hair care (45 mentions), especially hair dyes (21 mentions)
  4. Products suitable for sensitive skin, allergies (24 mentions)
  5. Cleaning products (15 mentions)
  6. Men's products (9 mentions), especially razors

This post focuses on two related challenges: availability and selection. A second post will give suggestions for the other two challenges: cost, and knowing which products are cruelty free. It will also give suggestions for products identified as a particular challenge.

Once you start switching to cruelty free, you'll climb the learning curve quickly, so don't get discouraged. Before you know it, you'll be an expert on which brands are cruelty free and which work best for you.

Suggestions for Availability and Selection, Especially Local

Small urban/rural areas

In smaller urban areas and surrounding rural areas, your best local options are likely Walmart, Target, and Vitamin Shoppe's brick and mortar stores, with Vitamin Shoppe having the best selection.

Vitamin Shoppe serves many smaller US cities, including with populations of 50,000 or so. Here's a link to their store locator:


Vitamin Shoppe is also a large online retailer with many Leaping Bunny brands, including personal care, beauty, and household cleaning brands, so their local stores can bring in almost anything for you.

At Walmart and Target, the selection varies from store to store, but in smaller cities, the selection is typically Alba Botanica and Avalon Organics skin care, and maybe one or two other brands.

Target may have a better selection than Walmart; for example, one Target visited has Alba Botanica, Avalon, Seventh Generation, Method, Mrs. Meyers, Burt's Bees, Kiss my Face, Freeman, Gud, It's a 10 Haircare, Giovanni, Tom's of Maine, EO, Jason, and Dr. Bronner's. That Target is in a large metro area, so may not be representative of smaller market Targets.

Other possible local sources in small urban areas are co-ops, general stores, and health/nutrition stores.

One last resource, probably of limited use but still worth mentioning, is Vegguide.org, a directory of vegetarian stores worldwide. Most entries are for North America and most are for restaurants, not shopping, but they do locate vegetarian stores in many small cities. Vegetarian stores are more likely to carry Leaping Bunny certified brands, so if you locate one in your area, it's worth a phone call to them.

One tip, specifically for makeup: Most Walmart and Target stores carry the e.l.f. brand (stands for eyes, lips, face), which is a decent, extremely cheap makeup brand. It gets good to very good reviews on the makeup boards and has a wide selection of products. This brand is certified cruelty free by the Australian certifying organization, Choose Cruelty Free. The Australian standard is similar to Leaping Bunny's (USA and Canada) standard and in two ways is stricter: it doesn't allow ingredients in which animals are harmed, and the parent company and any sister companies must also be cruelty free. I think e.l.f is a good option for going cruelty free, and it is more available than most Leaping Bunny makeup brands.

Large urban areas

In large urban areas, you'll usually find the best local selection at grocery stores. Often we think only of high-end natural grocery stores like Whole Foods, but in large urban areas, mid-market grocery stores often carry natural brands, many of which are Leaping Bunny certified brands. If you frequent a particular store, you can ask your grocer to stock particular products for you, and often they will.

Other possible local sources are Vitamin Shoppe, health food/supplement stores, Walmart, Target, and large chain drugstores like CVS and Rite Aid. As in rural areas, Walmart and drugstores typically carry at least Alba Botanica and Avalon Organics skin care and may carry other Leaping Bunny certified brands, too. Target may carry an even wider selection of Leaping Bunny certified brands, including personal care brands and household cleaning brands.

Best selection still on Internet

For widest selection and availability of Leaping Bunny certified products, the Internet is still the best option. Here are some of the many online retailers with a wide selection of Leaping Bunny products:

  • Personal Care: iHerb.com, Vitacost.com, Dermstore.com, Vine.com, Greencupboards.com, Crueltyfreeconsumer.com, Vitaminshoppe.com, and WhiteRabbitBeauty.com

  • Makeup: Dermstore.com, WhiteRabbitBeauty.com

  • Household Cleaning: iHerb.com, Vitacost.com, Crueltyfreeconsumer.com, Vine.com, Greencupboards.com

Greencupboards.com has a Leaping Bunny section. Vitacost.com and Dermstore.com have a special cruelty-free section labeled Leaping Bunny, but both sections include brands that haven't been certified by Leaping Bunny, so you need to verify a brand against the Leaping Bunny list to make sure it's Leaping Bunny. Vine.com has a Cruelty Free section that includes both Leaping Bunny and PETA certified brands. The easiest way to check if a brand is Leaping Bunny certified is to use Leaping Bunny's online list of approved brands, also available as a free app for your iPhone or Android. Visit www.leapingbunny.org for the complete list or to download the app.

WhiteRabbitBeauty.com and Crueltyfreeconsumer.com sell only Leaping Bunny brands. Crueltyfreeconsumer.com focuses on personal care, pet care, and household cleaning products. WhiteRabbitBeauty.com focuses on makeup and personal care products. It has the largest selection of Leaping Bunny certified makeup online.

Vitacost.com and iHerb.com ship internationally to many countries. WhiteRabbitBeauty.com ships to Canada as well as the US.

Finding the right product without trying (and spending!) hundreds

If you have to shop online, a problem many people mentioned is the expense of trying multiple products before you find one that works for you. Here are sites that can help you learn about and compare the different products:

  • Makeupalley.com: This site probably has the largest compilation of consumer reviews of makeup and personal care products (skin care, body care, hair care, nail care), including men's products. Many Leaping Bunny brands have substantial numbers of reviews here (for example, Alima Pure's foundation has 419 reviews). You need to become a member, but it's free.

  • Reviews at large online retailers: Check reviews at Amazon.com, iHerb.com, and Vitacost.com. These large sites have tens to hundreds of reviews for products, including many products from Leaping Bunny brands.

  • Mybeautybunny.com: This award-winning blog covers cruelty-free products with in-depth articles and reviews of beauty and personal care products. Great resource for product reviews and suggestions.

  • Buyingcrueltyfree.com: This relatively new blog also covers cruelty-free cosmetics and personal care, also with product reviews and suggestions. A recent post, for example, gave 5 great drugstore picks for stocking stuffers.

It's a time consuming process to search through so many products and reviews, but it does get easier once you get more familiar with the brands.

Getting samples

Ability to try samples was on several commenters' wish list. If you narrow your interest to a few brands, try calling them directly and asking them for assistance, including with any samples they can provide. Brands will often have samples in-house that aren't available to retailers. Brands don't provide packaged samples to retailers for most products, and retailers can't easily create individual samples themselves, especially when they carry thousands of products - it would be a logistical nightmare. Brands, on the other hand, have just their own products to manage and sample out.

If a brand doesn't have samples, look for travel sizes or travel kits of their products. This can be a relatively cheap way to try products.


Mention of companies and web sites does not imply my endorsement. The companies mentioned here generally get good reviews online, but I do not have personal experience with all of them. I own WhiteRabbitBeauty.com, but in these posts I have tried to set aside that role and write only as a consumer looking for the best products at the best prices.

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