An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 animals—mostly hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits—undergo tests of body-care product ingredients each year, according to Humane Society International. Tests include irritation tests “where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of restrained rabbits without any pain relief,” according to the organization’s website; force-feeding; and lethal-dosing, to determine how much of a chemical causes death when ingested. After tests are conducted, the animals are killed.

You may already offer your clients cruelty-free massage oils, lotions, scrubs and other topicals. This practice is animal- and earth-friendly—and can also provide a unique marketing angle.

Seventy-two percent of the U.S. population, according to a Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine survey, believes that animal testing is inhumane or unethical.

Using cruelty-free products in your practice tells your clients that you believe in a natural, holistic approach to health care. Here are four things to consider every time you choose to buy cruelty-free.


1. What “Cruelty-Free” Actually Means

Most people assume that a product labeled as being cruelty-free means it hasn’t been tested on animals; however, a fact sheet at the website of Leaping Bunny, one of the top authorities on cruelty-free products, notes that it’s not quite that simple.

To be certified as 100 percent cruelty-free requires “that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers,” as stated in the fact sheet.

Suzi Scheler, founder of Cruelty-Free Kitty, a guide to cruelty-free products, simplifies this definition. Being cruelty-free, said Scheler, means “there must be no animal testing performed at any point during the production.

“This means that the company you’re purchasing from doesn’t test on animals, that they don’t purchase ingredients from suppliers who test on animals, and that no third parties test on animals on their behalf,” she said.


cruelty-free products do not test on animals, such as rabbits

2. Benefits of Cruelty-Free Topicals

Other than the obvious benefit to animals when a product is created using a cruelty-free process, Sheler said that another advantage of using cruelty-free topicals is “they often contain more natural and nontoxic ingredients and less of the harsh chemicals.”

Some of these natural ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, essential oils and botanical extracts, added Sheler.

Melissa Hollan, L.M.T., a blogger at Melissa’s Cruelty Free Product Reviews, cited other advantages, as well.

“For many years, corporations have had all the methods needed to test products for safety and effectiveness without conducting unspeakably painful, frightening and traumatic testing on animal subjects,” said Hollan. “I am convinced that, by choosing cruelty-free products, I am using my personal economic power, however small, to help bring an end to needless animal testing.”


3. A Competitive Advantage

To best reach your clients who care about animal cruelty, Scheler suggests you let others know that you care, too.

“For online promotion, one of the best things you can do is reach out to the cruelty-free community and cruelty-free bloggers,” she said. “There are currently hundreds of cruelty-free bloggers, and [that number is] growing every day.”

“Letting your clients know that your business is cruelty-free adds another appealing dimension to the discriminating consumer who likely already values the intuitive, relational and energetic qualities of bodywork and would value your ethical standards,” said Hollan.

“When potential customers already have so many practices to choose from, why not make yours stand out by taking the quality of your products to the next level?” she added.

Hollan does this by informing her clients about the products she uses in sessions. “My favorite part of using cruelty-free products is the opportunity to share information with my clients,” she said.

“When they love the way an oil leaves their skin feeling or the fresh scent of a linen spray, I happily share what the product is and, more importantly, why it’s wonderful for them—and our animal friends,” said Hollan.

“Most people are excited to find effective products for their home and personal use and feel good when they know they are using something that is animal-friendly.”


guinea pig

4. How to Find Cruelty-Free Products

“Unfortunately, cruelty-free claims aren’t regulated,” said Scheler, “meaning that any product could claim to be cruelty-free on the packaging without really being cruelty-free. I’ve come across products that have the mention ‘not tested on animals,’ but when I dug deeper, I found out that the ingredients were tested on animals.”

To avoid purchasing these types of products, Scheler suggests you look for official logos. “You want to look for one of two symbols: the Leaping Bunny logo or the PETA Caring Consumer logo,” said Scheler. “These are the most trusted cruelty-free certifications, and the Leaping Bunny is recognized worldwide.”

When asked how she vets her cruelty-free products, Hollan shared that she researches their company of origin, as well as parent companies. As part of this process, Hollan uses the searchable database provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“I will not purchase a product from a company that promotes itself as cruelty-free if that company is owned by another that does conduct animal testing,” Hollan said. “I also will not purchase from companies that have declared a moratorium on animal testing, until they are truly proven to be cruelty-free.”


About the Author

Christina DeBusk is a freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness and business marketing. She currently writes for ChiroNexus as well as other health-related publications. She can be contacted through christinamdebusk.com. She has written several articles for massagemag.com, including “What Is Body Butter?