For the Love of Animals! How do I Know Which Product is “Better”?Tom Levin
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The Label Rivalry of Health Marketing
Let’s face it, we come across an overwhelming amount of selection when shopping for our cosmetics and body care products. With all of the different labels and marketing schemes slapped onto product packaging, selecting the right product for you might seem daunting. Even though it is fantastic that health consciousness is becoming mainstream and some of these products may seem trustworthy, it is important to differentiate between a marketing tactic and a certified product. What even defines “Better”? Is it the packaging design? Or the stamps on the back? The buzzwords being used on the label? The best way to begin making this distinction is to educate yourself on precisely what each of these labels mean.
The Brief Urban Dictionary of Health Marketing Terms
- Eco-Friendly – Products which inflict little to no harm on the environment, often using recycled and biodegradable materials
- BPA Free – Does not contain the chemical Bisphenol A in the lining of your product containers, including plastic, lining of cans and bottles
- Cruelty-Free – The product has not been tested on animals during any stage of its creation by the company itself or a third party company
- Vegan – The product itself does not contain animals or any ingredients derived from animals (animal byproducts)
- Organic – in the world of cosmetics, one that has been certified organic by the USDA typically means it contains ingredients which have been harvested without using of synthetic chemical compounds. Without the certification, “Organic” is not a guarantee
- All Natural – May or may not contain all natural ingredients, certified by no one and the ingredient list alone can determine the credibility level
- Non-Toxic – Typically a product that does not contain ingredients which have been strongly linked to toxic responses or death
- Paraben free – Products which do not contain parabens – preservatives which mimic oestrogen in the body and can lead to cancer or other health concerns
- Fair Trade – Products marked as “Fair Trade” have been certified to offer a better deal to the farmers and workers involved, but this does not reflect upon an entire company’s business practices or ethics
- Hypoallergenic – A marketing term used for products who are thought to cause less adverse reactions than others, but there is no scientific proof or legal credibility to these claims
Decision Making Time and Vegan Clarity
If you are looking for products that contain no traces of animals or animal derived ingredients, then cruelty free does not necessarily fulfill these requirements. In this case, you will need to seek out products or companies that are 100% vegan as well. PETA has a great list of completely vegan beauty and body product brands you can reference. Vegan is different than “cruelty free” because there is not necessarily a guarantee that those products were not tested on animals. You can find some products which are both vegan and cruelty-free.
Another paradox to keep in mind is that “Natural” does not automatically mean that a product is healthier or of higher quality. Some products which contain synthetic ingredients can be less toxic and more reliable than “All Natural” products, and often times they both contain the same chemical composition. For example, some products contain “Carmine”, which is a natural ingredient used for red colouring. However, although it is natural, it can cause severe allergic reactions to some people who use products that contain it.
Re-Awaken Your Crafty Side and Go Back to Your Raw, Ancient Self.
Ever heard that saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself”? Well, same goes for your beauty products! No one is suggesting you go ahead and open your own apothecary, though if that is your dream, by all means go on and make it happen. However, if you do a little bit of research, you might find some rather simple recipes you can conduct at home with basic vegan ingredients you already have in your kitchen! Miraculously, it seems PETA has got us covered in this department as well, with its 125 Cruelty-Free DIY Recipes which you can check out here. Now you can be as picky as your big vegan, cruelty-free and all-natural heart desires.