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The Novice Guide to Going Cruelty Free

Hey gang, today I thought I'd talk about something that I worry that you're all sick of me banging on about however I also still feel damn passionate about it so it's gonna happen anyway (sorry not sorry - that old chestnut). I've been making the cruelty free transition since May and I'm finally completely CF in all aspects of my skincare, haircare, cosmetics and household cleaning products. The process is something that has been a long time coming but it can be a little overwhelming to delve in to. I felt quite clueless to begin with and the more research I did, the more I found out such as the differences between the different cruelty free logos and what they represent, to what it truly means to be cruelty free for a brand. As it was a bit of a minefield when I started transitioning to CF beauty, I thought my very novice tips might be of help to some of you who might be in a similar situation or if you're sitting on the fence about making the jump to CF living.

It can be information overload so look for some easy peasy helpful go-to sites. When trying to swap to cruelty free, there are a lot of websites that contradict each other or downright lie. Unfortunately many brands aren't straight to the point or crystal clear about their stance on animal testing so finding reliable sources on which brands do and don't test was vital for me transitioning. The first ports of call for me was PETA, Choose Cruelty Free, and Cruelty Free International.

PETA are a great base to start if you want to search specific brands to see their CF stance as you can search not just cosmetics, but also household cleaning products and even office supplies. You can download an app to access the info on the go (mega helpful if you're in a store shopping and can't see any CF logos), and also access PDF lists of CF brands and their availability in specific countries. Although Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) is an Australian-based site, us Brits can definitely still value the information it provides. They have a fab CF list with a great key for identifying whether products are CF or also vegan and more. My favourite however is Cruelty Free International's Leaping Bunny site as they are responsible for the Leaping Bunny logo on many of our beauty products and again, the site has a super easy to use and seach A-Z list.

Blogs are your CF minefield best friends. I would honestly be *so* lost without blogs. The wonderful individuals who run CF blogs who go to so much effort to benefit others by outreaching to brands to get responses and clear answers on the ethics should be acknowledged and applauded. My absolute go-to girl is without a doubt Cruelty Free Kitty. Her blog is fantastic and is a great starting point if you need to know the ins and outs of animal testing, what CF actually means and if you want a definite answer on whether or not your favourite brands test on animals as she collates responses straight from the horse's mouth. Logical Harmony is also a perfect blog as Tashina has fantastically extensive lists of CF and vegan beauty brands and My Beauty Bunny is my favourite blog for detailed product reviews of 1Oos of CF products. If you want to go the "whole hog" and you're looking for completely vegan brands, definitely check out the gorgeous Gemima's blog - Lovely Witches as she covers everything you need to know about vegan lifestyle and beauty.

Be truly aware of what "cruelty free" means. I don't feel qualified enough to fully explain this clearly so I highly recommend the various links provided above but, it is important to initially get your head around what CF really is before you even try to buy CF-only products. The problem I first faced was the fact that there are various logos that show products or brands are against animal testing and not all of them mean the same thing. Many people rely heavily on the Leaping Bunny logo as it's the only internationally recognised logo meaning it is applicable everywhere, but there are also other logos which are equally as valid and it all depends on personal preference which ones you buy into. Brands actually have a number of different ways in which they can identify as cruelty free, but ultimately a lot of it stems from their refusal to sell in mainland China. Selling cosmetics, skincare etc. in China means brands are required by law to have either the finished product or the ingredients of said product tested on animals. Therefore this can be both pre-market and post-market/production meaning that no matter what, at least one ingredient has been used on animals in cruel, cramped, horrific conditions. I'm not going to get preachy here, but I am a firm believer that no lipstick nor mascara is worth the suffering or potential death of any animal - laboratory based or not. The logos to truly look out for are from those same reliable organisations I mentioned above:

Source: Cruelty Free Kitty

It's worth noting here that the really important message about the logos is that some brands actually use fake logos (which I just can't get my head around at all!). The fact that some brands lie to their market/customers dumbfounds me, but it's also just so unethical to confuse those who are trying to cruelty free beauty/living. Just as an example, a brand I was shocked to see using this method was Batiste on their very popular dry shampoo products. Using a fake logo is very misleading but it seems to be extremely common so the best safe bet is to stick to the three widely recognised ones listed above as they're genuine and well-known.

Use lists to clear out your collection. When I decided to go CF, I started with my skincare and makeup and emptied literally everything I owned out onto the floor and used concise lists of CF brands to do a pile of CF and non-CF products. This then made it easy to see what to keep and what I needed to make sure I never repurchased. This was a massive shock for me because I was quite disappointed to see just how many products I had in my collection that weren't cruelty free. I then split the non-cruelty free pile into further separate piles: non-CF I use daily, non-CF that is new/lightly used, non-CF that can go in the bin. This meant I could see what I actually truly used and needed to find CF replacements for. I then proceeded to give away the products I had only used lightly to friends and family who were not cruelty free specific users and my collection was instantly minimised. Seeing how many products I needed to replace also helped me start to research effectively - I could ask folks on Twitter for good replacements and could also see which products would be running out soon so I knew what to prioritise.

It can't all be changed overnight. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that transitioning to a cruelty free lifestyle/beauty products can't be done in a flash. It would be unrealistic and not cost-effective to just throw out everything then repurchase replacements. For me, I slowly used up the non-CF beauty products and replaced them when they were needed and made sure all my skincare, haircare, and cosmetics were completely cruelty free before then moving on to household cleaning products. Splitting it also made it more enjoyable to find products I liked and the best thing? So many budget brands are cruelty free meaning this worthwhile transition won't break the bank - it will also make your home much more eco-friendly!

Don't be disheartened by parent brands. One thing I was always a little aware of but never truly understood until researching CF beauty was parent brands. Mother/parent brands are basically umbrella brands who own many smaller brands. A good example of this is when L'Oréal used to own The Body Shop. A lot of CF beauty advocates wouldn't buy from The Body Shop previously as L'Oréal test on animals whereas The Body Shop do not. I personally love The Body Shop so they were one of my go-to stores for CF skincare in particular when I first transitioned. I understood at the time that their parent brand did in fact test on animals and sell in mainland China, but The Body Shop were a safe and comfortable brand for me to explore in. Now (thankfully!) the CF brand Natura have become The Body Shop's new parent brand which is fab, but if you're comfortable with buying from brands who have parent brands who aren't CF, don't beat yourself up about it and don't let others. There's wriggle room for everyone's approach to switching to CF-only beauty, and don't let others dictate how you do it.

It may sound cheesy, but switching to cruelty free living has definitely improved how I feel about myself and my purchases. I am so pleased I made the change but I strongly believe that you shouldn't let others tell you how to do it - everyone finds their feet and its your journey for your own personal reasons. I'm by no means an expert and still finding my way with CF beauty however, I think the best way to carry on along your journey is to openly talk to others and find out more and more information. Discussing CF beauty and asking for advice and recommendations from others is *the best* way to learn and grow your knowledge and understanding. There's so many great sites and blogs out there that can direct and explain things greater than I, but hopefully if any of you guys are stumbling your way through this journey as blind as I did to begin with, I've given you some comfort in the fact that you're certainly not the only one!

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