Cruelty-Free Moisturizers Are What Your Skincare Routine Needs - The Dermatology Review

Cruelty-Free Moisturizers Are What Your Skincare Routine Needs

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

06.08.21DISCLAIMER

While cosmetics are created to help treat skincare concerns and enhance our natural features, there’s a real ugly side to the beauty business: animal testing. It’s 2021, yet still, half a million animals are used to test various cosmetic products worldwide each year. That means more than 1,369 little critters were sacrificed today alone. As you might imagine, on top of the cruel testing, the conditions at these test labs are far from those of petting zoos, open-air farms, animal sanctuaries, or even shelters, which makes such a statistic an even tougher pill to swallow. 

The purpose of these tests is to determine whether or not a product is safe for human use and won’t cause an allergic reaction, irritation, or (worse) cancer. However, the reality is, animals don’t need to go through inhumane acts of testing to come to this conclusion. There are alternative methods of testing used to determine a product’s efficacy and skin safety that doesn’t involve animals at all. These formulas are known in the industry as being cruelty-free. 

The good news is that more and more cosmetic companies are becoming certified as cruelty-free every day, meaning you’re no longer limited to a small number of brands that are choosing ethical practices. Let’s take a closer look at what cruelty-free means and how you can start to integrate these products into your skincare routine, starting with the number one staple: a moisturizer. 

The List

Formulyst Ideal State Moisturizer, $80

Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer, $50

Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream, $14.99

Fenty Skin Instant Reset Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream, $40

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream, $68

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil-Free Moisturizer, $12.98

Arcona Wine Oil, $58

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream, $21

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, $36

Skyn Iceland Oxygen Infusion Night Cream, $68

Pai Skincare Avocado and Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, $58

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream, $265

Herbivore Botanicals Pink Cloud Rosewater Moisture Cream, $48

Cruelty-Free Meaning

Sure, cruelty-free means not testing on animals, but it goes a bit deeper than that. The term represents an animal rights movement in which a company’s products or activities don’t harm or kill animals anywhere in the world. This includes: 

  • Finished Products: Finished products are not tested on animals by the company or any other company.
  • Ingredients: Absolutely no ingredients are tested on animals by the company or any other company.
  • Suppliers: None of the company’s suppliers test ingredients, raw materials, or finished products on animals.
  • Third Parties: No third party is testing their finished products or ingredients animal on the company’s behalf.
  • Required by Law: A company doesn’t test on animals where the law requires it, and products are not sold in mainland China.

Identifying Cruelty-Free Products

Unlike in the past, today, you can find numerous cruelty-free brands that offer a wide range of products. In fact, The global cosmetics market is seeing an increased demand for cruelty-free options. According to a report by Future Market Insights, this is due to a rising concern around health and safety and increased aversion amongst the general public towards animal-tested products. In the coming years, the market is forecast to witnessing surging sales via online channels.

 

Educate Yourself

Organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Humane Society International, Choose Cruelty-Free, Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics support and provide consumer education on the topic of cruelty-free. Cruelty-Free International continuously releases lists of cruelty-free products, as well as cruel products to boycott. 

 

Certification

When it comes to certification, the Leaping Bunny has been the only international third-party cruelty-free certification program since the 1990s. You’ll know the product you’re looking at is legitimately cruelty-free if it bares the organization’s iconic leaping bunny — but if only it were that easy.

 

Buyer Beware

Be aware that many brands trick consumers by putting a fake cruelty-free bunny image on their packaging, not the legit cruelty-free logo. The reality is, there is currently no regulation in the U.S. or Canada for the term “cruelty-free.” Unfortunately, this means a company can make claims about being cruelty-free or not being tested on animals — they can even put a bunny image on a label to make consumers think they are purchasing an authentic CF product. Search for Leaping Bunny cruelty-free brands before shopping for your skincare and cosmetics if you’re not sure if a product is genuine. 

Cruelty-Free Versus Vegan

It is essential to distinguish the difference between cruelty-free and vegan because people often use these terms interchangeably. Just because a product is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cruelty-free — and vice versa. A vegan product means that it does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. In contrast, a cruelty-free formula ensures the consumer that all of the ingredients in the final product were not tested on animals. The good news is that more vegan cruelty-free skincare products are coming to the market so that you can get the best of both belief systems. 

How Cruelty-Free Products Are Tested

If you’re curious about how cruelty-free products are tested for safety, here’s the biggest takeaway you need to remember: The following alternative methods are not only more ethical but are also less expensive and more accurate than tests performed on animals. 

 

In Vitro Human Tissue Models

This method has been researched for decades with the intent to put a stop to animal testing while developing more accurate safety tests. Scientists take human skin recovered from plastic surgery to isolate cells and grow them to complete skin tissues. The result is artificially created living skin that enables scientists to test the safety and efficacy of cosmetic products sans animals. EpiSkin is known as one of the pioneers in developing this technology. Today, their models have safety approval for testing products worldwide. 

 

Computer Predictions

Computer predictions rely on the fact that hundreds of thousands of known chemicals have already been tested on animals. So when a new ingredient needs to be tested, its virulence can be predicted with existing data via a technique known as read-across. In a nutshell, the properties of a chemical compound will be manually checked and compared to other chemicals of a toxic nature based on their similarities. 

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health added information for approximately 10,000 chemicals into a machine-readable database to test this method. Next, a study was conducted using a computer algorithm that identified relationships between similar ingredients. When these findings were tested, it was determined that the computer predictions about the toxicity of various chemicals were more accurate than animal tests. 

 

Human Organs-on-Chips

Organs-on-chips are artificial, smaller, 3D microfluidic cell culture versions of human organs. They are made from human cells that are grown to mimic human organs, so they are incredibly reliable and accurate for testing purposes. 

 

Human Volunteers

In the advanced, final stages of cosmetics testing, human volunteers can step in to test a product using a technique called micro-dosing. Minimal doses of an ingredient are applied to the skin, and the effects are observed. This technique is both safe and precise. 

The Best Cruelty-Free Moisturizers

Formulyst Ideal State Moisturizer, $80
This intensive cruelty-free moisturizer is formulated to address the vulnerabilities of mature skin. Powerful complexes containing peptides, plant stem cells, vitamin A and ceramides help skin look firmer and tighter, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Neptune kelp, hemp seed oil, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and vitamin E provide hydration at a deep level. Reishi mushroom, ginseng extract, Kakadu plum extract, and gotu kola contribute adaptogenic and antioxidant properties that help combat environmental stress and promote a brighter, more even-looking complexion.

Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer, $50
This lightweight antioxidant formula is a hydrating powerhouse that leaves skin feeling remarkably smooth and radiant. Overflowing with potent plant proteins, vitamins, peptides, and amino-collagen, plus a stem cell extract from hardy alpine roses delivers multi-level hydration. Carrot & Stick’s active complex of three natural bio-ferments supports greater nutrient density and more efficient absorption. Caffeine adds an energy boost that revitalizes the skin, while five distinct coconut elements promote overall conditioning. Along with being powered by plants and not harsh chemicals, this clean moisturizer is cruelty-free. 

Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream, $14.99
Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream is a soothing blend of botanical extracts that is said to moisturize sensitive skin all day without causing redness or irritation. It contains 98.9% natural ingredients and is fragrance-free. One of the key ingredients in this cream is Gossypium Herbaceum (cotton) flower extract, which is known to help to soothe and protect the skin. Cotton flower extract may also assist in improving skin barrier function.

Fenty Skin Instant Reset Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream, $40
Rhianna’s cruelty-free skincare line is also green and clean and has several unique formulations, such as this rich gel-cream nighttime moisturizer. It instantly hydrates and reduces fine lines and wrinkles while improving the look of pores and dark spots in just one week. Key ingredients include glycerin, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, panthenol (provitamin B5), vitamin E, and watermelon seed oil. 

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream, $68
Cruelty-free brand Drunk Elephant has several top-rated products, including this unique cream. 

Abundant with proteins and nutrients such as nine signal peptides with growth factors, amino acids, and pygmy water lily, it replenishes and restores the skin to a robust and healthy state. With regular use, the skin looks visibly more toned, firm, and texture is improved.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil-Free Moisturizer, $12.98
At Alba Botanica, the ultimate goal is to seamlessly blend health and beauty by creating products that are eco-friendly and packed with botanical ingredients — but they are also cruelty-free. This oil-free facial moisturizer provides optimal hydration, thanks to plenty of humectants in the formula. It has a lightweight, silky texture that doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the skin. There are also antioxidants in this moisturizer from aloe, green tea, gotu kola, and cucumber extracts.

Arcona Wine Oil, $58
Within the Arcona skincare product line, you won’t find any of the common additives like fillers, binders, or stabilizers. To top it all off, the brand is cruelty-free. With a formula as luxurious as it sounds, the Arcona wine oil is crafted with a number of powerful, natural-based ingredients. It’s formulated with antioxidant resveratrol which helps protect the skin against environmental stressors, oleic, and linoleic acids to hydrate and moisturize the skin, reparative grape seed oil to help mend any damage, and cinnamon leaf oil which is a wonderful stimulator to help gently tone the skin. By using the Arcona Wine Oil as a daily moisturizer, skin becomes stronger, healthier, and more youthful.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream, $21
The Body Shop is a certified B Corp, and its manifesto touches on ideas including rejecting beauty stereotypes, creating uplifting products but never making false promises, reducing the company’s environmental footprint, and never testing on animals. Designed for all skin types, this best-selling moisturizer is formulated with nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and wheat germ oil to provide hours of hydration.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, $36
This best-selling nourishing cream is ideal for those who are prone to sensitivity, redness, and dryness. It’s formulated with nourishing emollients like shea and jojoba, which create a protective layer on the skin to help prevent trans-epidermal water loss while you’re sleeping. Colloidal oatmeal (5%) and licorice soothe and reduce redness, hyaluronic acid hydrates, and peptides soften the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and texture. It’s an excellent choice for those with extra dry skin or eczema. 

Skyn Iceland Oxygen Infusion Night Cream, $68
When the skin is stressed, it appears dull, flaky, irritated, clogged, and bumpy, so it needs extra TLC — especially at nighttime when the skin repairs itself. The Saponaria pumila and gosulin agave in this rescue formula replenish and repair while improving fine lines’ appearance. Rejuvenating micro-encapsulated oxygen works to put life back into depleted skin, resulting in a healthier, brighter, and more youthful appearance. Skyn ICELAND never tests finished products or ingredients on animals, and neither do their suppliers or any third parties. 

Pai Skincare Avocado and Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, $58
This day cream is Pai’s best-selling product, as it’s non-greasy and provides long-lasting hydration, leaving the skin calm, supple, and soft. It’s formulated with jojoba oil, which mimics the skin’s natural sebum more closely than any other oil, improves the skin’s barrier function, and helps to prevent transepidermal water loss. It also has proven anti-inflammatory effects and can impart soothing effects upon application. Cruelty-Free International and the Vegan Society accredit the brand’s entire range of products.

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream, $265
This celebrity and beauty editor’s favorite moisturizer was created by Augustinus Bader, a world-renowned physician and researcher in the biomedical field and an expert in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. This ultra-hydrating face cream (an upgrade to the original formula, The Cream) stimulates the skin’s natural rejuvenation process to reduce the signs of aging, including the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. It also reduces redness, calms stressed skin, evens skin tone, and promotes a glowing complexion. The brand is cruelty-free and doesn’t export its products to mainland China and/or other countries, where animal testing is required by law.

Herbivore Botanicals Pink Cloud Rosewater Moisture Cream, $48
Founded by a husband and wife team in their Seattle kitchen, Herbivore Botanicals has morphed into an internationally recognized natural and cruelty-free beauty brand. This gel-cream moisturizer deeply plumps, smoothes and reduces the appearance of redness, thanks to rosewater, aloe water, and white tea extract. The skin is left glowing and with a slightly dewy finish. 

Elta MD UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 44, $36.50
This cruelty-free sunscreen is suitable for all skin types (even sensitive.) The two-in-one formula contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (a broad spectrum of 44) to provide superior sun protection and hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate and soften the appearance of fine lines. To top it all off, It has a flattering natural tint.

Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion, $60
Feel as though you’ve tried every moisturizer for combination skin under the sun? This one’s for you. As with many other moisturizers, this one also contains hyaluronic acid, which delivers moisture without heaviness. However, the pièce de résistance is Japanese marine algae harvested from the Blue Zone of Okinawa. Otherwise known as “sea grapes” or “green caviar,” you’ll feel the texture of this moisturizer break away into your skin as it turns into a water-like gel-cream. The results? Moisture minus the shine, improved elasticity, and a reduced appearance of fine lines over time. The brand is a proud member of PETA’s Caring Consumer Project, so rest assured that animal tests are neither conducted nor commissioned for our products, formulations, or ingredients.

Cruelty-Free Skincare: The Bottom Line

Animal testing is conducted in the cosmetics industry to determine whether or not a product is safe for human use and won’t cause an allergic reaction, irritation, or (worse) cancer. However, the reality is, animals don’t need to go through inhumane acts of testing to come to this conclusion. There are alternative methods of testing used to determine a product’s efficacy and skin safety that doesn’t involve animals at all. These formulas are known in the industry as being cruelty-free. 

The good news is that more and more cosmetic companies are becoming certified as cruelty-free every day, meaning you’re no longer limited to a small number of brands that are choosing ethical practices. However, be aware that many brands trick consumers by putting a fake cruelty-free bunny image on their packaging, not the legit cruelty-free, “leaping bunny” logo. Search for Leaping Bunny cruelty-free brands before shopping for your skincare and cosmetics if you’re not sure if a product is authentic. If you’re feeling extra passionate about the cause, you can make a donation to help end animal testing.

Sources:
Which Animals Are Used in Cosmetic Tests
,” Cruelty-Free International.

Vegan Cosmetics Market Key Research Findings
”,Future Market Insights, July 2020.

Database Analysis More Reliable Than Animal Testing at Predicting Chemical Toxicity in Consumer Products,” John Hopkins University.

THE BEST SKIN CARE LINES 2021

1

Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds.Read More
2

Formulyst

The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Read More
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Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns.Read More

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