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    Is PETA’s Cruelty Free List Legit?

    There has been a lot of discussion in the cruelty-free community about whether or not PETA’s cruelty-free brand list can be trusted. I don’t always agree with tactics and stances PETA has taken on other issues but setting that aside, I wanted to learn more about their cruelty-free cosmetics brand list.
    After researching post-market testing in-depth with several sources, I have come to realize that China’s post-market testing is no longer a major risk. In fact, post-market testing on cosmetics can happen here in the US (and in the EU). Much more on that here. It seems a lot of the cruelty-free community’s mistrust of PETA has to do with post-market testing. So that barrier being taken out of the way made me take a second look at PETA’s cruelty-free brand list.
    You can read my thoughts at the end of this article. As always, I try to be unbiased, flexible in my thinking, and fact-based in making determinations.
    Notes from my interview with PETA Senior VP, Kathy Guillermo
    Kathy Guillermo is Senior Vice President of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. A 31-year veteran of PETA, Kathy leads the organization’s work to end the use of animals in experiments. Her many victories include shutting down the construction of a massive monkey-breeding facility in Puerto Rico and exposing the abuse of animals at a North Carolina product-testing laboratory, Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc., which led to the closure of the facility and the adoption of hundreds of dogs and cats into good homes. She is the author of the 1993 book, Monkey Business: The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement.

    What are the requirements for a brand to be approved as cruelty-free (and to be added to PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies list)?
    They ask that the brands do not in any way conduct, commission, or allow tests at any point in development, and suppliers must do the same. Companies sign legally-binding statements attesting to this. Suppliers change and they come and go. Larger brands may have 10,000+ suppliers. PETA does not require documents from the suppliers themselves, but they require that the brands have language in place with every supplier that mandates the no animal testing policy. They require the brands to give them their language before they are approved. Most of them put this in their contracts with their suppliers. 
    Ingredients can sometimes be required to be tested (by ingredient suppliers) in the EU for other purposes – such as their inclusion in a chemical (non-cosmetic) product (this is not supposed to happen under EU regulations, but it has – see sources below). This could be an environmental purpose or a worker safety issue investigated under REACH loopholes. One example (that is luckily not happening often), is that when an ingredient reaches a certain tonnage, it has to be tested (under REACH).
    PETA would disqualify a brand if it was buying from a supplier that has tested due to these laws. PETA has challenged these laws and does not believe they are valid under the European animal testing ban.
    Sources for all of this info here. There is more info here (but please be warned – there are graphic images on the next two links): animal tests still happening in the EU and action you can take to help.
    Do brands pay to join the program? If so, how does that work? 
    There is no charge to be listed. There is a one-time $350 fee if brands want to license the logo. This helps to pay for PETA’s administrative and legal fees.
    How is the program different from Leaping Bunny’s program?
    According to Kathy, PETA was initially part of Leaping Bunny/CCIC when it was being established 25 years ago. Their designers actually designed the Leaping Bunny logo. The discussions broke down about what the requirements should be. Specifically, how long ago an ingredient could have been tested on animals in order to approve a brand. PETA believed 5 years was too long because it was making it impossible for some brands to get approved. [Editor’s note: currently Leaping Bunny requires a fixed cut-off date for testing but there is no limit on what that time is – it could be 1 day or 5 years.] They wanted to encourage brands to stop testing and join the program. Today, PETA makes sure not to allow brands to do all their testing and then try to get certified. They investigate and work with brands who have evolved, and have ended animal testing. Companies are always innovating and going into new markets so it’s the commitment to being cruelty-free going forward that is important to them. 
    Are companies required to recommit each year? Are they audited at all after they sign up? 
    Not every year. Every couple of years they check in to make sure policies are the same and have them sign a new agreement. It depends on the company – if they are in constant contact, they may not have to. All companies are required to sign a legally binding agreement. But, they have caught companies lying and have removed them. There are a lot of whistleblowers that help with this. PETA has exposed companies who have paid for tests in China without telling anyone. 
    How do you assure that brands are not conducting pre-market and post-market testing when entering China? 
    PETA started the first investigations into brands that were conducting animal tests in China. They work closely with IIVS (Institute for In Vitro Sciences). The scientists at IIVS help to train Chinese scientists on using non-animal testing methods. PETA has very few companies on the list who are currently in China (see below).  As we all know, there are certain parameters to allow for no animal tests – products have to be manufactured (or final product assembled)  in China and there can be no “special-use products”. When working with large companies like Unilever and P&G, they know that the brands are very well versed in the laws of China.
    PETA-Certified Cruelty Free Brands Selling in China:
    Eco & more
    Lisa Rabbit
    Dove (Unilever)
    Herbal Essences (P&G)  
    Wet n Wild 
    Physicians Formula
    First Aid Beauty
    Editor’s note: the Chinese have just released the new CSAR (Administrative Measures for Filing of Non-special Use Cosmetics) and my colleagues and I are still trying to determine what they will mean for PRE-market testing in China going forward. Some have said that pre-market testing is coming to an end, but that is not clear to me yet. We are currently trying to interpret new guidelines from the NMPA. Here is PETA’s statement on this.
    Another important note – Kathy says that brands would be given the opportunity to remove their products from China if post-market animal tests were required. I asked Harald Schlatter (Director Scientific Communications & Animal Welfare Advocacy at P&G) about this, and he said, “We have been told by Chinese authorities that no products of other P&G beauty brands have been tested on animals over the past couple of years. While there is no 100% guarantee, they told us that in case of a health-related consumer complaint, they would reach out to us to provide further safety perspective.  If they then believe more is necessary, they would consider follow up testing, but usually patch testing with human volunteers, not animal testing.“
    But the fact is, officials are not requiring post-market animal tests anyway (see my previous article on post-market testing in China). Kathy says post-market testing has been mainly to ensure products are not counterfeit. In that case they wouldn’t need to do animal tests – they would just analyze the product. There is the potential for complaints about safety, but products that have been on the US or EU markets for years would not be likely to have issues. And if they did, the brand would be able to decide what types of additional tests would be done, or would have the option to pull their products from the Chinese market.
    Do you have any assurances from officials in China that testing can be avoided? 
    IIVS has relationships with officials in China. But this is not really necessary (see above). In 2014 China allowed pre-market testing to be avoided under the parameters mentioned above. PETA has an Asian division. (a PETA affiliate called PETA Asia). PETA checks the Chinese database to make sure no pre-market tests were done before they approve new companies. They also look at when a product was first registered for sale in China and what types of products they offer (no “special use products” allowed).
    Do you note if the parent co is cruelty-free on your list? I see for example that Too Faced says Estee Lauder but it isn’t noted that Estee Lauder is not cruelty-free. 
    Kathy thanked me for the suggestion and is going to look at this and possibly make updates to the list.
    Do you note if the brand is vegan?
    Yes, they note if a brand has signed their paperwork guaranteeing all of their products are 100% vegan. Going forward, brands won’t be called “cruelty-free” unless they are vegan AND not tested on animals. Companies who do not test on animals, but are not entirely vegan will be called “not animal tested”.
    So, can PETA’s cruelty free list be trusted? My thoughts and bottom line.
    So after talking to Kathy, I personally feel better about trusting PETA’s cruelty-free cosmetics brand list. I do feel that it is more lenient than Leaping Bunny’s cruelty-free list, mainly because they are vetting the brands on behalf of the suppliers rather than the suppliers themselves. But they are requiring legally binding documentation from the brands. And the brands are required to then supply language to their contracts with their suppliers. They are not auditing every year, but they are checking in on brands and removing them if they find any issues.
    To compare and contrast, I had an interview with Kim Paschen from Leaping Bunny and will be publishing an article with information from that discussion soon.
    At the end of the day, ANY cruelty-free brand list (including my own) has to take brands and suppliers at their word. All we can do is call them out if we discover lies and discrepancies and I think that we are all on the same team in that sense. More

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    iHerb Beauty Haul – All This for Under $100!

    This post is sponsored by iHerb, a retailer I’ve been using for years. All opinions are mine – you know I keep it real!
    You guys know I love iHerb.com – I talk about them all the time. I have been buying a lot of my supplements and natural products there for years. I’ve also purchased beauty products from iHerb, but I didn’t realize until recently that they carry major beauty brands, the kind you’d find at the big chain beauty stores!
    I recently bought a Strivectin skin care product at a huge discount. In today’s cruelty free beauty haul, I’ll be sharing what I got with a $100 gift card from iHerb. There is something for every budget – they also carry cruelty free drugstore makeup brands like CoverGirl and ELF.
    Before we get to my reviews, just a reminder for my international friends that iHerb ships to over 150 countries! They also carry products from the U.S., Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, the UAE, etc. You can get your favorite K-beauty and J-beauty brands here too!
    Okay, so let’s get to the good stuff! I was given $100 to shop, and I got ten beauty items!
    Unite Boosta Volumizing Spray

    It’s been a while since I’ve tried Unite hair products, but I have really enjoyed them in the past, so I was excited when I spotted their Boosta Volumizing Spray at iHerb. I have long, wavy, fine hair, but I always feel like I need more volume at the roots. This product did exactly what I wanted it to! It gave me some volume without being heavy, crunchy or greasy. I tried it as an all-over spritz on damp hair too and found that it enhanced my curls and made them more defined (when used with my regular hair gel).
    Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

    I’m never going to stop raving about Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch hydrocolloid patches. You use them after you extract (pop) a zit, and they soak up all the gunk while protecting the wound. Sounds gross, but truly a holy grail for anyone dealing with acne. They are not treated with anything that would dry out your skin. They are just magical!
    Bulldog Shave Gel

    Bulldog is a British brand that is certified animal-testing-free by Leaping Bunny. My husband and I share this rich cruelty free shave gel. It’s made with camelina, green tea and aloe to soothe the skin and prevent razor bumps. It’s also Vegetarian Society approved.
    Grandpa’s Apple Cider Vinegar Body Wash

    I took a chance on this one. I have been loving vinegar for the oily skin on my face, and I thought this might help with my bacne (back acne). So far, I’d say Grandpa’s Apple Cider Vinegar Body Wash is a winner. It doesn’t smell bad like my DIY apple cider vinegar recipes do – it smells more like apple juice than vinegar. It leaves my skin feeling super clean and moisturized – not dried out. I can actually use it all over – even on the drier areas (like my legs). It is sulfate-free, artificial fragrance-free, paraben-free and gluten-free.
    Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer

    Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Taupe is one of my holy grails, so I was happy to try the Brow Definer that I found on iHerb. It’s got a triangular tip so you can shade or draw individual hairs. And there’s a spoolie on the other end to groom hairs into place. In my opinion both products are great – it’s just a matter of the style you’re more comfortable with.
    Sierra Bees Organic Lip Balm

    Sierra Bees is an iHerb-exclusive brand, and I was thrilled to get a pack of four for $4! I got Mint Burst, but there are tons of flavors to choose from (I was torn between mint and creme brulee). The lip balms are smooth and non-greasy. They’re made with sustainably-sourced beeswax, olive oil, sunflower oil and Vitamin E. They are certified USDA organic and GMO-free.
    Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash

    I discovered Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash at iHerb a while back, and I’ve been buying it ever since. It’s alcohol-free so it doesn’t burn. It has a ton of Ayurvedic plant extracts (neem, peelu, and many more) that clean your mouth and nourish your gums. It has a licorice/herbal taste that may take some getting used to, but I love it. My mouth feels much cleaner and healthier with this brand, and I notice that my gums don’t bleed when I use it (even when I forget to floss some days – eek!).
    Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

    Since we’re talking about oral health, coconut oil and tea tree are also great ingredients for a healthy mouth and gums. I found these in Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste. It whitens naturally and contains no artificial sweeteners, dyes, SLS, preservatives, etc. Hello products are Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free and vegan. It has a nice minty feel but is not overpowering.
    Indigo Wild – Zum Bar Goat’s Milk Soap

    I tried Indigo Wild’s Zum Bar Goat’s Milk Soap recently and I loved it so much, I had to stock up at iHerb! I tried the Lavender-Mint scent, and it’s SO nice on a hot summer day! There are a lot of natural soaps that don’t lather, and I just need some lather in my life. Thankfully Zum Bar lathers very nicely without SLS! It’s a natural soap, made with 100% food grade olive, coconut, palm & castor oils, in a goat’s milk base, with pure essential oils and mineral pigments.
    Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion

    And last, but certainly not least, I picked up a refill of one of my favorite hand and body lotions. Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion in Refreshing Lemon is the perfect consistency – not too heavy or too light. And the scent is DIVINE – it’s like sugared lemons. It’s cruelty-free and vegan, and GMO-free.
    So all of that for under $100 is not bad at all! I am so impressed with how many amazing cruelty-free products iHerb carries – high-end and budget. You can find everything you need there – go check them out! More

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    The Best Cruelty Free and Vegan Beauty Products

    in Acne-prone, Body, Combination Skin, Dry Skin, Hair, Lifestyle, Makeup, Misc, Nails, Oily Skin, Skin, Vegan on 07/27/20

    My editorial content has been sponsored by RetailMeNot, however my review and opinions are my own.

    People always ask me what the BEST cruelty free and vegan product in (insert category here) is. That’s a very hard task because there are so many great products out there! And there are a lot of factors involved (skin type, hair type, scent preference, etc.).
    When RetailMeNot asked me to write an article on the best products out there, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pick! I decided to go with my favorites, while also taking into account which products are popular with friends, family and the online “hive mind.” I also took into account which products could be purchased at major retailers like Amazon, Sephora and Target.

    In addition to sharing my favorites in several categories like “best cruelty free lipstick”, “best cruelty free hair products”, “best splurge”, “best value”, and others, I also included several of my favorite Black-owned cruelty free brands (most are woman-owned as well).
    I would love for you to check out my article, and share it if you like it! You can view it here. Let me know what you think of my top cruelty free beauty picks, and if you like this type of article, I’ll try to do more of them here on My Beauty Bunny! More

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    Fitness Motivation • I Feel Empowered

    by Monika Dauterive
    People and Culture Manager, HR at Runtastic
    I have always had a complicated relationship with sports. There have been times when I was truly athletic, and times when I did not move at all. Times when I enjoyed physical activity, and times when I had to force myself to even go for a walk. There have even been times when I was passionate about team sports, and others when I preferred to train alone. But exercise has always been part of my life – whether as a friend or foe. 
    In 2017, my fitness motivation hit rock bottom after I tore my ACL or anterior cruciate ligament. Within only a few months I had put on quite some weight, but also got out of shape at a level I had never experienced before. And while I had finally started appreciating and loving my body, I felt anything but fit.

    How I Stayed Motivated
    After a six-month break from any kind of exercise, I started running again in January 2018. At a pace of 8:00 min/km I was able to do about two to three kilometers before I had to call it quits. 
    I wanted to have an average of three fitness activities every week, so I started the body transformation plan in our adidas Training app. I was probably training at the lowest level possible, and I was satisfied if I finished two workouts per week. In other words: it took me about 20 weeks to finish a 12-week training plan.
    I am my harshest critic, which is why I turned to my social network to boost my confidence. Every time I posted a run or a workout in my news feed, I received positive feedback from my friends; every time I had a low, somebody would take the time to encourage me to keep going. Every time I joined a group workout or run, the high fives at the end made me feel proud of not giving up and boosted my fitness motivation.

    “I am my harshest critic.”

    Reclaiming my Body 
    Eight months into my new exercise routine, my life turned upside down when my husband and I decided to split up. For six months my work-life-routine was anything but balanced, I barely slept. Instead I went out partying, and my diet was… well…non-existent. I consequently lost weight rather quickly (not sustainably though), and my running pace was crazy (for my standards). But I felt weak, tired… and not as voluptuous as I had in curvier days. 
    As a result, I rediscovered my fitness motivation and started working out again and immediately noticed how my arms started to feel firmer, my butt fuller, my thighs stronger, my waist narrower. I increased my workouts to three to four times per week; sometimes I even went for a run and did strength training on the same day. For me, this was (and still is) huge. Seeing the fruits of my labor was really rewarding.

    I love how I feel 
    Even though I re-gained weight in the following months (as I started to eat again, or rather indulge in too many sweets), I felt like a total bombshell. And I still do. My scale and I have agreed that we would keep our relationship distant but friendly, and I do not freak out over minor weight changes. Usually when I look into the mirror or at pictures of myself, I like what I see.
    I am not generally lazy, yet I am easily tempted to just skip a few days of workouts. The longer the break is, the harder it gets to bounce back and muster up my fitness motivation. I sometimes feel frustrated when I run slower than the week before or when I can’t do as many push-ups as I thought I could. 

    “It’s frustrating to lose muscle much faster than I built it; this is what keeps me going.” 

    Finally I have reached a stage where my body can regain muscle much faster after a break, and where I actually miss working out after a day or two. I love sucking in fresh air during a run along the lake, and I love dripping with sweat after a round of burpees (much more than I love burpees, I might add). I love that I can still easily lift my kids and that I can walk for hours without feeling tired. I love that I feel empowered, healthy and happy with my body.  
    About Monika 

    Monika Dauterive is a vital part of the Runtastic HR team and a strong ambassador of our company values. As a mother of two, she tries to be a role model for her kids by teaching them to be content and not take oneself too seriously.
    *** More

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    Tired After Eating? 6 Tips to Boost Your Energy

    You’ve been looking forward to a delicious lunch all morning. Lunchtime comes and you dig into your meal. It tastes so good. But then afterwards you suddenly feel tired and drowsy. What is happening in your body? After a meal, your body really jumps into high gear – it begins with the digestive process: blood […] More

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    Feeling Tense? 5 Best Exercises for Neck Pain

    Do you have to deal with recurring neck tension or upper back pain? A stiff neck and neck pain can be caused by weak muscles – poor posture – or degenerative changes to the cervical spine. The result is stiff muscles in your neck and shoulders, pain and it can even lead to limited mobility. […] More