I’m switching to cruelty-free cosmetics (and it’s a lot easier than you think)

Happy Earth Day, everyone! This planet is pretty cool, no? Just like our loved ones, it deserves its own day — although in this case, it’s OK (preferable, even!) not to send a card and instead help save a tree. That said, let me also add that I’m no role model when it comes to sustainable, healthy living and consuming. I try my best to eat food and use products that are good for me and the earth, but sometimes it’s 2 AM on a Friday night and I need a burger…from a place that might not use organic, grass-fed beef.

So the first time I started hearing about cruelty-free makeup and skin care products, I treated it the same way I do raw-food diets and no ‘poo haircare regimens: impressive and admirable, but not for me. In case you didn’t know, the cruelty-free movement focuses on using products that are not tested on animals, and I learned about it while watching a YouTube video on the beauty channel derpinaMODE. Over the past year, the two women who run the channel have slowly switched over to using only cruelty-free skincare products and makeup, and they provided some great resources to get started.

Watching this video, I realized there was really no reason I was holding back — or at least no good one. I guess I worried that makeup and beauty would stop being fun; that I’d be confined to boring palettes and basic colors; that I wouldn’t be able to go to my favorite stores; and that I would have to drastically change my routine. Technically I had been buying from controversial brands only reluctantly, but it wasn’t like the CEOs of those companies got checks with memos that read, “Kate bought your stuff, but you should know she’s mad about it!”

I realized that the only way for cruelty-free cosmetics to become the norm was to vote with my money. If big brands lose money because of their cruel and unnecessary practices, then maybe they’ll wake up and change the way they do business. Now, I am only one person. But if I can give $20 to a brand I trust, then that’s still $20 that another brand won’t have. And if you follow suit, and you get your friends to do the same, well, you see where I’m going with this: At some point, the loss will be large enough that the offending companies will start to see a difference in their bottom line.

Of course, this big decision will be shortly followed by the big question: How do I start? If you’re thinking about going cruelty-free, there’s no need to storm into your bathroom and throw away all your blushes, soaps, and foundations. You already bought it, you’re not made of money, and so you might as well use it. Switching over can be a gradual process, and it begins when you use up one product and buy a cruelty-free replacement.

When it comes to shopping, it’s good to know where you draw the line. There are brands that are entirely cruelty-free and others that are themselves cruelty-free, but have parent companies that do test on animals, so even if the product is clean, the company is still being supported. While the fully cruelty-free products are obviously the best, I’m allowing myself to first explore both worlds until I can get more familiar with what’s available.

One of the main issues for me when I started this was that I love makeup. I love finding new brands of lipstick and trying out different face masks and experimenting with my brows. I love browsing Sephora. I love watching the beauty gurus on YouTube show me the things they bought and give me tutorials on how to use them. I thought by going cruelty-free I’d have to say goodbye to all this choice — that I’d instead be limited to a small, hard-to-find list of brands with bland products. Luckily, this is absolutely not the case.

In fact, I got to keep using some of my old favorites, like Tarte,* Urban Decay,* and Lush, as well as discovering some new and amazing lines, like Dermalogica and Glossier. For a full list of companies that you an shop with, this website is an amazing resource. In the meantime, I’ve listed some of my favorite products below:

Stowaway Cosmetics Defined Lash Mascara

This mascara can fit easily in your pocket, and you’ll use it all up before it has a chance to expire. It’s simple and tasteful, with packaging that is to die for.

LUSH Dream Cream

I’ve repurchased this bad boy time and again. It’s the smoothest moisturizing body cream, and a lifesaver in the dry winter months. Also, it’s the best thing to slather on after shaving your legs: It smells great and dries quickly.

Urban Decay Naked Palette

This one is a classic. It’s an eye-shadow palette with every neutral, smoky color you could possibly need. You can mix and match on your lid, with a look that’s dark and sultry or light and sparkly.

Kat Burki Beauty Elixer

This is a great pick-me-up, whether it’s first thing in the morning or in-between meetings. Just give your face a spray and it’s instantly revitalized and refreshed with vitamin C and aloe.

Stowaway Cosmetics Creme Lipstick

It’s another Stowaway product, but for good reason. Their lipsticks come in three versatile shades (champagne, peony, and scarlet) and go on smoothly. You only need one coat for a little pop of color.

Despite my initial reservations, this switch has been a lot of fun. I have an excuse to try new things and, as a result, have been so much more attentive to what I’m putting on my skin. But also, I feel like I’m doing my part to protect earth’s creatures from the pointless pain of cosmetic testing. It’s a win-win, guys. I don’t want to peach, but give it a try. I can almost guarantee that you won’t regret it.

*At the time of this post, these brands do not test on animals but have parent companies that either do or allow their ingredients to be tested on animals, which has become a fuzzy distinction.

[Images via , , here, here, and here]