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Easing the Challenges of Going Cruelty Free, Part 2

Jean, White Rabbit Beauty, January 28, 2014

"What has been your biggest challenge in switching to cruelty free?" More than 1,300 of you answered that question in November.

An earlier post gave the results of that survey, along with suggestions for two key challenges identified: availability and selection. This post gives suggestions for the other key challenges you identified.

  • Cost
  • Knowing which products are cruelty free
  • Products that are particularly hard to find, such as good deodorant and mascara

Finding Cruelty Free Bargains

Good Value Brands

Comparing Leaping Bunny brands and drugstore brands, you find that prices are about the same for skin care and for household products; but for hair care and makeup, Leaping Bunny brands tend to be much pricier than drugstore brands.

Here are my picks for good value brands that combine good products with drugstore prices:

Facial care: For skin care, many LB brands are equivalent in quality and price to drugstore brands. Here are just a few: Acure, Alba Botanica, Andalou, Avalon, Beauty without Cruelty, Bulldog, Desert Essence, EO (their Everyone Face line), Jason, Nutribiotic, Queen Helene, and SebaMed (SebaMed is available at Walgreens and CVS). Prices tend to be about the same in this group, with cleansers retailing for about $10/8 oz and moisturizers retailing for about $15-$25/2 oz (prices are lower online).

Moisturizers have some excellent bargains. Bargain moisturizers I've liked are Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer, for normal skin ($7.99/4 oz retail, and online for about $5); EO Everyone Face - Moisturize, for normal to dry skin ($9.99/8 oz retail, and online for about $8), and JASON Revitalizing Vitamin E 5,000 IU Creme, for dry skin ($9.99/4 oz retail, online for about $6).

For sun screens, Alba Botanica has great value sun screens, and they are one of the most widely available Leaping Bunny brands. They are at natural grocery stores, many chain drugstores and Target stores, and some Walmart stores, too.

Body care: The best bargains are the products that come in 32 oz or more, such as the EO Everyone line and the Alba Botanica body washes and lotions.

Makeup: The cruelty free value brand is e.l.f. (eyes, lips, face), which is available at Walmart, Target, and many online stores. They are cheap even for a drugstore brand, at $2-$5 for most items (even foundations), and many of their items get good reviews. E.l.f. isn't certified by Leaping Bunny, but it is certified by Australia's certifying organization, called Choose Cruelty Free. The Australian standard is similar to Leaping Bunny's standard, and in some aspects is stricter.

Another good value brand is Everyday Minerals, which is available online at their own site, everydayminerals.com, and at the discount retailer iherb.com.

Hair care: No equivalents to drugstore prices, which can be as low as $5/32 oz, but Nature's Gate comes close. It has the large, 32 oz sizes that are the best deals. Nature's Gate doesn't sell the 32 oz size on its own web site, but natural grocery stores often carry the 32 oz size, and the 32 oz sizes are available online at many retailers. Nature's Gate shampoos and conditioners retail for $7.79/ 18 oz and $12.89/32 oz, but are available on line for about $5/18 oz and $10/32 oz.

Another bargain is EO's Everyone Soap, which can be used as a body wash, shampoo, and bubble bath. It retails for $9.99/32 oz, and online discount stores have it for $7.34/32 oz.

Midrange brands, which retail typically at $6-$10 for 8-12 oz are ShiKai, Giovanni, Desert Essence, Andalou, Alba Botanica, and Avalon Organics.

For styling products, I have not found a really cheap cruelty free brand. Brands with moderate prices (typically $10/7 oz retail and online for about $6) are Alba Botanica, ShiKai, Andalou, Desert Essence, and Giovanni.

Household: Household cleaning products can be a couple dollars more for Leaping Bunny brands, but they are pretty close to grocery store prices. The brands that are more easily available in grocery stores are Seventh Generation, Method, Mrs. Meyer's, and Ecover. All are also available online at discount retailers. Sprouts Farmers Market's house brand is also Leaping Bunny certified.

Discount Stores

The best prices are usually online, at discount retailers that typically have prices 20%-40% below retail. These beat even Walmart and Target on price. Discount sites with a good selection of Leaping Bunny brands are vitacost.com and iherb.com. For bargain makeup, iherb.com has both e.l.f. and Everyday Minerals. And of course, you can buy almost anything on Amazon if you know the name of the product you want.

Shipping is low and often free at a low threshold, so don't let concerns about shipping put you off. For example, iherb.com's maximum shipping is about $3 and free for orders above $20; at vitacost.com, shipping is $4.99 max and free for orders above $49. If you have Amazon Prime, you get free 2-day shipping on all orders (annual fee applies).

I mention vitacost.com and iherb.com because of their selection and because I have had good shopping experiences with them. Many other online retailers offer discounts, too, so it's worth shopping around. Not all retailers have great customer service, so check reviews of the retailers before purchasing from them. BBB (bbb.org) often has information as well.

If you show the online price to your local store, some will now match it. This is an increasing trend, and is certainly worth a try.

Catching Sales

Most stores, whether brick and mortar or online, have a newsletter that alerts subscribers to sales. If you find a store or web site you like, sign up for its newsletter and buy when they have sales.

Knowing Which Products Are Cruelty Free

This challenge was mentioned by 17% of you, but it had two very different aspects:

  • For some, the challenge was knowing which products on the shelves are Leaping Bunny products, because the Leaping Bunny logo is often on the back of the label in small type. Several mentioned antsy families waiting while you picked up each product and checked its label!

  • For others, the challenge was knowing which products were cruelty free in other aspects, not just free of animal testing. For example, which products were also vegan (free of animal-derived ingredients) and sustainable.

Identifying the Leaping Bunny Products on the Shelves

Here's my best suggestion for this: Print the list of Leaping Bunny brands and take it to your store manager or to the department manager. Give the manager the list, and ask if they carry any of the brands; and if so, ask the manager to please show you where they are on the shelves.

This does two things: You find the products faster, and you alert the manager that customers are looking for cruelty free products. If the manager has to walk people to the products many times, you will soon see sections clearly labeled as cruelty free. You may also find expanded selection. It would probably be a great campaign to have all of us do this one week!

Finding Products That Are Also Vegan and Sustainable

This is a particularly difficult challenge. Several of you noted how time intensive it is to research which ingredients may be animal-derived. Then, in addition, it takes more time to read every ingredient on labels when shopping. The Australian cruelty free certification takes this into account, so a review of their list is a good starting point. Their brands cannot include ingredients in which animals were harmed or were caused pain. That still allows some animal-derived ingredients, but they also provide a list for vegan brands who certify that they have no animal-derived ingredients.

Brands on these lists include the following (not a comprehensive list, so please see the full list for more):

  • No animals harmed: Alba Botanica, Avalon Organics, Badger Balm, DeVita, Dr. Bronner's, e.l.f., JASON, Lush, Tints of Nature (hair color), ZuZu Luxe

  • Vegan: DeVita, ZuZu Luxe

Many Leaping Bunny brands have a wide selection of vegan products, and usually they will identify these on the label and on their company web sites as vegan. If you find a brand you like, check their web site for this information or call them directly. They will be happy to help you.

The sustainability concern related to palm oil, the harvest of which is devastating the orangutan population. Palm oil and its derivatives are used extensively. Reformulations of products to exclude palm oil derivatives would be difficult and may be impossible. The solution probably isn't to reformulate products without palm oil derivatives, but rather to return to sustainable harvests of palm oil.

If you express your concern to brands about the issue, you can help spread awareness among them. Their pressure on their suppliers for a sustainable harvest may be the fastest way to end the unsustainable harvest and the destruction of critical habitat. Most palm oil (80%) is used for food, so contacting major food brands will have even greater impact.

Leaping Bunny brands that are already sourcing sustainable palm oil include The Body Shop, Route One Pumpkins, and Dr. Bronner's, among others.

Particularly Challenging Products

Some items were identified as particularly difficult to find, due to lack of selection, affordability, or effectiveness of existing products. Here are suggestions:

Salon quality hair care: Paul Mitchell. The real Paul Mitchell products are available only in salons, so use the salon locator on Paul Mitchell's site to find one near you. You may find products that appear to be Paul Mitchell at major drugstores, Walmart, Target, and online sites, but avoid those. They don't come from Paul Mitchell, who for decades has strictly controlled distribution to salons only. If you don't buy it in a salon, it may be counterfeit, even at well-known stores like Walmart, and may have very different ingredients than the real Paul Mitchell.

Professional makeup: Joe Blasco and FACEatelier are the two professional makeup lines among the Leaping Bunny brands. Both are highly regarded by makeup artists and used for TV and movie work, on fashion runways, and for professional photography. FACEatelier is especially great for high-definition.

These brands are just as good for you as they are for stars. After all, we are all viewed in high definition in our everyday lives!

FACEatelier and Joe Blasco are mainly available online, although FACEatelier may be available in boutique stores in larger cities.

Mascara: Decent mascaras that don't break the bank are Mineral Fusion's Lengthening Mascara and e.l.f.'s Mineral Infused Mascara, which like all e.l.f. products, is super cheap. E.l.f. makes other mascaras, too. You might want to check the reviews at makeupalley.com to see which might work best for you.

More important than brand is the trick for applying mascara to get a more full look. After applying a first coat, apply another coat but this time brush the wand tip, which has a little extra, across the lashes sideways, then comb that second coat back through the regular way to separate the lashes. (If that little extra at the tip of the wand is a clump, consider that extra gold - it's not a bad thing!)

Deodorant: Deodorants tend to cause skin reactions more often than most personal care products. Because reactions are so specific to individuals, it's hard to give specific recommendations here. Two popular deodorants with generally excellent reviews are Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Roll-on Fragrance Free and Crystal deodorants. The Kiss My Face deodorant uses lichen extract, which is a plant extract more likely to cause reactions, but reactions are still rare. Both brands are inexpensive.

Anti-perspirants: Anti-perspirants are regulated as over-the-counter drugs (because they contain active ingredients to reduce perspiration), and so undergo more extensive testing than most other products. The only Leaping Bunny certified deodorant/anti-perspirant on the market is made by Tom's of Maine. It's called Naturally Dry Anti-Perspirant Stick.

Products suitable for sensitive skin: For skin care, I usually recommend DeVita products for those with sensitive skin. DeVita has simple but excellent formulas and most are fragrance free, or nearly so. DeVita is often available in grocery stores with large natural sections, and online at discount retailers.

For sun screens for sensitive skin, look for zinc oxide, which has almost no risk of skin irritation. Zinc oxide is not only an excellent UV blocker, but it's also a good anti-irritant. Remember, it's been used for diaper rash for ages!

If you can't find a good zinc oxide sun screen, next choice would be titanium dioxide, which is another excellent UV blocker with almost no risk of irritation - it is inert.

A good, value sunscreen for sensitive skin is Kiss My Face Face Factor SPF 30 ($12.95/2 oz retail, $8 online). DeVita's Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30 is also excellent, but a little pricier ($25.95/2.5 oz retail, $15 online). Both use non-nanoparticle zinc oxide that blends in well without leaving a white residue.

If you have multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) syndrome, the go-to brand has been Magick Botanicals for many years. Its name is a misnomer - it contains no botanicals. (It originally did, hence its name, but the MCS community alerted Magick that botanicals caused reactions, so they removed them.) Magick's products are as simple as can be, some with only two ingredients. They don't have the nice textures of most skin care products (that would add more ingredients), so these aren't products that pamper you. Some people with MCS have been able to tolerate DeVita's simpler formulas, so if you want pampering, too, you might want to try DeVita.

For makeup for sensitive skin, people have had good luck with Gabriel and ZuZu Luxe (both owned by Gabriel), which have simple formulas, and with the mineral makeup lines. For mineral makeup, avoid any with bismuth oxychloride if you have sensitive skin.

In general, if your skin is sensitive, look for simple formulas with no fragrance, and few plant extracts or essential oils (base plant oils, such as jojoba oil, sunflower seed, argan kernel, olive, and other plant seed oils, are usually okay). Most plant extracts are complex chemical mixtures, often containing tens of chemical compounds. Lavender essential oil, for example, contains more than 20 chemical compounds, and rosemary extract consists of more than 100 chemical compounds. With so many chemicals, your odds of reacting to the product increase.

Razors: Schick's. MyBeautyBunny researched this and found that Schick's razors aren't tested on animals. Razors aren't covered under the Leaping Bunny and other certification programs, because they don't undergo toxicological testing like other personal care products do. Preserve makes razors, and Leaping Bunny has certified them, but the certification is for their floss/dental products. Call companies directly to learn if they test their razors on animals.


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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