Just over a year ago, in what seems like a different galaxy, I joined the Kinder Beauty writing team at the exact same time as I was examining my own approach to cruelty-free and clean makeup.
I had always been keen on steering clear of products that tested on animals, but as I joined forces with Kinder and knew that my articles needed to have an added layer of thoughtfulness and care around these issues, I felt a little unprepared for how many caveats there were to what cruelty-free truly means, and how many of those caveats the non-vegan beauty industry can keep from consumers.
Plus, as Kinder Beauty has frequently pointed out, vegan beauty is not necessarily the same thing as cruelty-free beauty. I found this confusing.
As I learned more about the ways animals and our planet are commodified and abused all for us to look and feel good, I was alarmed, and, at times, straight-up disgusted.
Thankfully, by writing for Kinder Beauty—and with the clear, concise information provided within its trusted community—I am proud to have become a compassionate beauty purchaser.
While I am still learning every day, I hope to provide some relief for those of you who—like me, back in that galaxy far, far away—are just beginning to delve into the truth behind cruelty-free makeup and wrap your heads around the many ways to match your consumer choices with your beauty regimens (signing up for Kinder Beauty is a really terrific start).
But if you’re baffled and nervous, know that you’re not alone! I hope these tips provide you with a less stressful entry into to this truly Kinder world. It's a beautiful place to be!
1. Approach your beauty journey as an artist would a canvas.
One of the first things I had to do to settle my scrambled brain as I began to clear out my old makeup kit was to remind myself that this was still the fun, exciting world of beauty and wellness I had always known; it was just one that did not use animals or animal products in any way. Though I was nervous, I knew it was a step I wanted and needed to take.
As I absorbed that idea, I realized that I could look at my face, my skin, and my desire to feel good like an artist looks at a new slate.
If I have a beginner tip for you, it’s that: You’re a beautiful artist nurturing and decorating a fine canvas, and you know your face and skin better than anyone else, so you’re going to create a masterpiece; the only thing different from what you've been doing is that you're going to take one added little step to make sure that your beauty products weren't tested on animals.
There is a lot of information out there, but don’t be daunted. You’re an artist. You’re about to paint a gorgeous portrait. Read on for how to accomplish it.
2. Consider your tools.
Now that you (hopefully) feel slightly less frightened about this new beauty world, think about what tools you use in creating your art.
If you’re like most artists, you’re going to want a case, some brushes, and cleaning materials—so take a step back and think about what animal products might be lurking amidst your tools. As a newbie back in the day, I was stunned to have overlooked that not only were the copious amounts of cleaning wipes I was using a non-biodegradable mega-disturbance to the force that is our ecosystem, but also that the very simplest of makeup brushes contain animal hair, and that my makeup bag was likely to be made of animal skins.
I felt shaken as I did more research, but a true artist always tries to rise above a setback. It took me about two clicks on Kinder Beauty’s fabulous website to find a plethora of reusable/washable organic cloths, synthetic-haired brushes galore, and some sleek makeup carriers and kits to facilitate my artistry ... and I wrote about it here to give you a kick start.
3. Consider your paints.
Of course, once you’ve got your tools, you’re probably going to want some paints. Unfortunately, the colorful world of glosses, lotions, and potions (oh my!) can belie a very dark world of animal products that a newbie like me had zero insight into.
Before you pick out a favorite lip balm, moisturizer, or nail polish, consider that these might contain (brace yourself) animal urine, crushed animal parts (hoofs, feathers, tendons, bones, and more unthinkables), gland secretions, and even entire insects.
Yes, that’s right. Everything from lotion, to hair care and bath products, to virtually everything you can paint on your lips, face, nails, or body can contain one or more of these animal parts, and heaps of beauty brands continue to use them. Fear not, dear ones; your work of art can still come to life, but take a moment to examine what goes into your tubes of paint.
Kinder Beauty is here, of course, with its truly cruelty-free (and clean) catalogue of products that you can trust—but it is also worth going beyond our list of treasures to understand what cruelty-free actually means. Which leads me to my next tip ...
4. Your greatest influence is a leaping bunny.
It’s fine to worship geniuses like Van Gogh, but keep in mind that in addition to producing iconic pieces, he also ate paint chips, guzzled absinthe, and cut off his left ear.
The beauty industry is full of glorious innovators, but many companies are conglomerates who present beautiful products that hide a disturbing truth: brands that claim to be ethical are sometimes not.
That’s where Leaping Bunny comes to the rescue. In Canada and the US, the only way to be certain that a company is completely cruelty-free is to check that it is Leaping Bunny-Certified. There is more information about how this certification works here, and our fabulous editorial team at Kinder Beauty have shared why it’s possible and essential to avoid animal testing—which underscores Leaping Bunny’s crucial role.
Now, this might have you throwing down your easel once and for all. I understand your terror, friends. As a newbie, I was perplexed as to how I could possibly keep track of whether or not my favorite brands were actually kind to animals.
Take another deep breath and sweep up your shattered paint jars, as it really comes down something as simple as reading about the innovative and kind companies that are compassionate towards animals.
I, for one, am so grateful that Leaping Bunny makes this extremely easy for me!
5. Let yourself go.
The world of vegan beauty is just as colorful as the non-vegan world, and anyone who suggests otherwise is simply uncomfortable with the idea of doing a bit of investigative comparison in order to spare the life of an animal.
You’ve set up your tools and materials and done some lifesaving research, so let yourself experiment. The Kinder Beauty site is just one of many glorious resources to the world of vegan, cruelty-free, clean beauty, and we are here to unleash your inner-Freida Kahlo with this list of brands we love.
What could be more exciting than exploring this endless array of possibilities for your beautiful body of work?
6. Be open to critique, not shame.
Like any artist, you’re not going to change the course of art history with your first brush stroke. Making mistakes is part of the process, and you’re unlikely to want to be shamed for your errors.
That goes both ways, so as much as you’re needing compassion and support as you understand the reasons for making the switch to cruelty-free beauty, so too does the newbie coming up behind you.
Never beauty-shame anyone else, and go easy on yourself, too. Be open to critique, but the kind that comes with support.
Kinder Beauty is here to answer your questions, and there is a wealth of love and community help on our social media pages. Cruelty-free is more than a passing trend; it’s a lifestyle, which means allowing yourself to ask questions and seek help. The cruelty-free environment, like the artist’s studio, should be an inclusive one, without exception.
With the gentlest of artistic flourishes, give yourself a pat on the back. The hardest part of being a newbie in the cruelty-free beauty space is realizing that some of your past choices have been outside the realm of cruelty-free.
But you're here now, and that's worth celebrating.
With a bit of research and the right tools, you’re well on your way from newbie to cruelty-free beauty guru. This is your beautiful face, body, and mind we’re talking about—and you’re in a safe space to nourish and awaken your inner-artist with kindness and compassion towards all living creatures.
Now that's beautiful!
Natalya Anderson is a writer, award-winning poet and former ballet dancer from Toronto.