As a consumer, my stance on animal testing is pretty simple. I don't want to spend my money on brands who test their products or ingredients on animals. I don't think human vanity justifies a living creature's suffering. For medicines, I can accept that it's necessary. But if it's just a case of wanting to look nicer, then for me it's not OK.
But that's about me as an individual. London Beauty Review, which I am only one part of, is not a "cruelty free" blog. But as I am one of the people who use it as a vehicle for writing, it has reflected my views somewhat so far, and quite a lot of products on the market have been omitted from my posts for this reason.
Recently, as the blog has taken off and seen more brand involvement, I have found avoiding the animal testing more and more difficult. We receive a lot of review samples, and for me to pull my weight as part of the blog and still avoid animal tested products is pretty tough. The first consideration is readers and what they want to see, so if we are sent something relevant to our demographic, we do want to cover it whatever it's origin (see Touche Eclat post as at 21/5/10). It's especially awkward when I discover that seemingly "OK" brands are in fact owned by larger, animal testing corporations. (The most obvious example being The Body Shop, which despite its reputation for squeaky clean ethics, is owned by L'Oreal, one of the biggest proponents of animal testing in the world today.)
I have found myself doing a lot of research and hand-wringing over the issue, and I have learned that companies and their marketing agencies can twist words in ways that'll make your head spin. There are all kinds of ways to make products with animal-tested ingredients sound whiter than white. It takes a lot of work to keep up with who owns who and who is doing what, as any cruelty free consumer knows.
I also learned an exciting fact about cosmetic testing legislation. In 2003, a law was passed banning animal testing for cosmetic ingredients/products in the EU, with an enforcible deadline ten years into the future. It will also be illegal to market and sell products whose ingredients were tested outside the EU. I.e. by 2013, everything for sale in our shops will be, by law, cruelty free. The battle against animal testing is now pretty much won in the UK - it's just a question of waiting a couple more years for the practice to stop for good.
With this in mind, and with a lot of thought, I came to a decision about blogging. While my personal beliefs remain the same, I now have a new set of considerations. Namely, that in line with the mission of LBR, I want to provide thorough and representative coverage of the UK cosmetics market in my blog posts. So when a review sample is offered to me, and I know it's going to be of interest to the readers, I'm no longer going to say an outright "no" if it doesn't meet my personal criteria on animal testing.
Please note that I am limiting this to review samples not because I like a freebie, but because I still don't want to put my hand in my pocket to fund animal testing. If the blog gets sent something, I want to do my share of the work in terms of reviewing. But I am not going to go so far as to purchase items that fund animal testing myself. If they come to me, I'll handle them my way. But I'm not going out looking for them. Make sense?
Instead, here is what I plan to do. (Note "I" - this is about my blog posts, not LBR as a whole.) As with our "freebie" dislcosure, I will add a note to any posts where I know that the product I am discussing is produced by a company that engages in animal testing (or is owned by a larger company that does). That way, readers can get the low-down on the product with a review, and make their own decision about purchasing it based on their own beliefs, instead of being blinkered by mine.
I don't think I am doing either the blog or myself any favours by pretending that animal testing companies and their products don't exist. There are blogs that provide a fully cruelty-free review and FOTD/EOTD resource, but LBR is not one of them - it's not the remit of the blog. If people come here, they can't/don't assume that everything is cruelty free. The animal testing concern is my personal issue alone. If I can provide a review for those who aren't too worried about the issue, that's great for them. If I can also explicitly share my knowledge about what is and isn't animal tested at the same time, I feel that that is also a useful disclosure. It means I can do my share of the work of this blog, and also spread some awareness about companies who test on animals at the same time.
It's not a perfect solution, but in the short interim until animal testing companies are forced to change their ways for good, I think it is the best I can come up with. Roll on 2013!
I hope this will be helpful to you, and that I haven't lost too much respect for compromising my principles.