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Dirty secrets swept under the rug

Published 15 May 2014

Magazines such as Glamour, Cosmo, Vogue and Seventeen……….they are all the same.  On the front cover a projection of how amazing you are, no matter what your size, look, or make up preferences (if any).  Then you turn the pages and find yourself being bombarded by advertisements and articles about the latest anti-wrinkle creams that will revitalize your skin even from the grave or the magic eyetistic liner that will make you look even better than a Jan van Eyck portrait!

Ok! I get it! Advertisements are meant to discover and raise your aspirations while cosmetic companies are always eager to discover new, revolutionary products that you have been waiting for all your life without even realizing it.

Secondary, but not less obvious, is that magazines have to survive and cosmetic companies are in business to make money.

To achieve this, you learn that your idea of the perfect version of you has to be ‘improved’ which explains why cosmetic companies will continue to test on animals to deliver that enchanting look. In the process they might add parabens (preservatives) and other chemicals to their products but hey, who cares as long as you end up looking like the goddess Aphrodite herself?

So, when do you say ‘enough is enough’?

Working for an organisation that fights against cosmetic animal testing, I often encounter situations where multinational organisations will go to extreme lengths to make customers think they are ‘ethical’, ‘natural’ and above all ‘compassionate towards the environment and animals’.  However, the reality is harder to swallow.

The multinationals realize the huge potential the ‘environmentally-friendly’ market presents and, of course, they want a piece (if not all) of that pie. The market for natural products is estimated to be growing at 20% a year in Europe, driven by an increased media focus and more widespread public opinion about harmful chemicals and cruelty free products.

However, while the name and/or label of the product can change at the speed of light, the basic principle remains the same: Multinational Companies Will Continue to Test on Animals!  And they will continue to do so until legislation prevents them from doing so.

There will be no wrinkle too deep and no interstellar hair color they won’t be able to produce at the expense of animal lives and even your health!  The constant pressure of the need to reach physical perfection is fueled by these multinational organisations who continue to challenge and push boundaries beyond what you or I might consider acceptable.  

Multinationals also exploit our perceptions by taking advantage of the fact that many of us are rushing when shopping:  they use brand names and packaging to imply a product is more organic and natural than the plant itself.  And what is even sadder is that there are no legal standards recognized worldwide to level the playing field for beauty products that are labelled organic or cruelty free.

So, where do you draw the line?  Would you still use extensively advertised products even if they contain potentially harmful, toxic ingredients and have been developed using animal testing? Would you purchase products from ‘cruelty-free’ subsidiaries i.e. The Body Shop, Urban Decay, Superdrug, Liz Earle, to increase the profits of multinationals who are huge animal testers?

Sounds like a no brainer, right? But in practice it is indeed much more difficult!

Convenience is a core factor in how we shop and the supermarket next door always has great offers and means it’s possible to get everything you need in just one go and at the right price.  But at what costs?

I am not just quoting from textbooks. Believe me, I’ve been there struggling to get to the bottom of the story.  Does the manufacturer have a parent company?  How natural are the ingredients? The ingredient list sounds like a string of chemicals, etc etc.  That crazy lady who stands in the middle of the aisle reading labels, ingredient lists and making snappy comments about Unilever, Procter Gamble and the most hated of all – L’Oreal – sounds like me!

​​Why? Because supermarkets are full of toxic products that have been manufactured by huge, multinational organisations who continue to profit from torturing animals in laboratories outside Europe.  Genuinely, cruelty-free, products manufactured by ethical companies can be found on the supermarket shelves but you will need to do your homework to be sure you don’t have the wool pulled over your eyes.  

Solution? My copy of the Naturewatch Compassionate Shopping Guide.  All it takes is a little bit of planning to select the businesses that deserve my custom. Whether it’s online, on the high street, or from a supermarket, I always make sure that I’m investing in the right company.

But you know what? It is worth it! For your conscience, for your health, for the animals, for the environment and for the business ethics I want to see rewarded.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world…are the ones who do!

Standing with you against animal testing,

Cristina Popa

P.S Many thanks to our brilliant illustrator Kelly Cooke