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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
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
Makeup (70 mentions), with foundation (13) and
mascara (16) named in particular
Deodorant (45 mentions) and anti-perspirant (8
Hair care (45 mentions), especially hair dyes
Products suitable for sensitive skin, allergies
Cleaning products (15 mentions)
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,
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.
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:
Care: iHerb.com, Vitacost.com, Dermstore.com, Vine.com, Greencupboards.com,
Crueltyfreeconsumer.com, Vitaminshoppe.com, and WhiteRabbitBeauty.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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.