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Conscious Living: Cruelty-Free Beauty

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By Janice Brown

Who among us doesn’t get excited about a fabulous new lotion or an amazing lipstick that stays on for more than 20 minutes? As consumers, we buy many personal care products for ourselves and those we love, but we don’t always realize that each purchase we make can help or hurt the animals, the environment, and ourselves.

As more people make the connection that what they buy matters, companies are focusing on bringing products to market more naturally, with fewer chemicals, and with more organic ingredients. Often this means a more compassionate manufacturing process and no harmful animal testing.

One of the leaders in the cruelty-free beauty category is LUSH Cosmetics (LushUSA.com). Since its inception in 1995, LUSH has made corporate responsibility and activism the central tenets of its business operations. The company creates handmade products with all-vegetarian and mainly natural ingredients, and adheres to a strict policy of no animal testing.

In addition, LUSH engages consumers and legislators to advance animal protection, environmental, and human rights causes. LUSH also operates its own unique “supplier specific boycott,” which means they do not buy ingredients from any manufacturer or supplier that tests anything they produce on any animals.

LUSH’s ethics director, Hilary Jones, tells us, “It is the duty of those of us in business to speak up as loudly as the campaigning groups, and show they deserve [support] for their unstinting efforts to make the world a kinder place.”

Paying attention to what we are putting in and on our bodies can literally save lives. When I heard about Ava Anderson Non-Toxic (AvaAndersonNonToxic.com), a company with a mission to provide safe personal care products and educate consumers about the health risks of toxic ingredients, I was intrigued. Teen girls use more personal care products daily than average adult women, and studies from the Environmental Working Group link chemicals detected in girls age 14 to 19 to potential health effects including cancer and hormone disruption.

At the age of 14, Ava Anderson discovered that many personal care products she and her family used contained chemicals producing hazardous health effects. The ugly truth: Most consumers are unaware of the risks of common cosmetic brands. Even when we think we are making safe choices, we often don’t really know what is in the products we purchase.

After months of research, Anderson realized that she needed to create her own personal care products. Her vision and persistence paid off, and she launched her company in December 2009. The brand recently expanded into pet care as well.

Another popular company is debuting a new line to offer compassion-focused products to our pets. Burt’s Bees has been a pioneer in developing earth-friendly, natural health and beauty care products for nearly 30 years. Inspired by co-founder Burt Shavitz’s love for dogs, Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care (BurtsBeesPets.com) will uphold the rigorous natural standards of Burt’s Bees products, including its commitment to using a minimum of 95 percent natural ingredients. Burt’s BeesNatural Pet Care Products are pH balanced for pets and contain no parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances, or sulfates, and, of course, the line is cruelty free.

Get to know the companies that are doing the right thing for animals, while creating the safest, most-humane, natural, and best products to support a healthy and happy world. Be sure to check out these websites before you start shopping:

LeapingBunny.org

GoCrueltyFree.org

Peta.org

Ewg.org

AliveRaw.com

SafeCosmetics.org

NAVS.org

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