“The Estee Lauder companies do not test on animals and we never ask others to do so on our behalf. If a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment, an exception can be made”
This is the statement that Noleen Sliney read to me when I asked her if major labels tested on animals. We both agreed – it was the most CYA statement we had ever heard. Estee Lauder (along with many other mainstream brands) sell their products in China. To sell products in China, the Chinese regulatory bodies make you test on animals before you can put your product on the market. So Estee Lauder, explain yourself please.
Outside of our opinions on animal testing, (The Clean Hub doesn’t allow any brands into their program that do test on animals) what we think is a huge problem with the statement above is the lack of transparency from a trusted brand. Just be honest with us as consumers. I mean, the two statements are clearly an example of an oxy moron. Not to mention that it is ambiguous, misleading, and only contributes to the green washing confusion that is rampant in the beauty sector. No wonder we have trust issues.
As I chatted with Noleen about her work at Noleen Smiley Makeup and how she helps her customers find beauty products that fit them as well as navigate cruelty free beauty, I asked if she would come onto the Clean Chat podcast to help myself (and hopefully you) learn how to decipher what is truly cruelty free, as it is not as straightforward as I thought.
In the podcast we discuss how parent beauty companies, (such as Estee Lauder and Revlon) can influence the brands that they own to test on animals. Noleen has a robust list of all of the parent companies that test on animals as well as a list of the companies that they own that test on animals. You should definitely check it out. You can download it here!
We also go over the differences between the most popular cruelty-free logos such as the CCF Rabbit, Leaping Bunny, and PETA. They all are doing their part in identifying cruelty free brands, but have different levels of requirements which are always good to know from a consumer and brand stand point.
We hope you enjoy the podcast. I had a fab time recording it and had to try hard not to giggle too much. For a robust list of cruelty free brands, download Noleen’s Cruelty free guide here, or check out her website here to get in touch.
Listen to the podcast below or check out the full transcript.
Raquel: Hello everyone, thank you for coming onto the clean chat. Today we are talking to Noleen Sliney from Noleen Sliney Makeup. Hi Noleen, how are you doing today
Noleen: Hi Raquel, I’m doing well thank you so much. How are you?
Raquel: Good thank you. I’m so excited that you’re on our show. So just for everyone I met Noleen virtually through a mutual group called The Female Entrepreneurship Association and we were on I want to say a Facebook thread talking about natural beauty and we realized we’re both obviously trying to deliver similar messages and you know what let’s get on a phone call and chat and see you know what our stories are. And so we did that and we talked for a long time and not only did we feel like, you know we talked about starting a business and things we were passionate about but also how we got into cleaner beauty and I really wanted to have Noleen on the show today not only because she’s so knowledgeable about the industry but also because she’s helping consumers learn about buying cruelty free products . I feel like that’s really important because it’s not so straight forward as it might seem and I really wanted to have an open conversation with Noleen to talk about that. So I’d thought I’d start off with by asking Noleen a little about her background and how she started Noleen Sliney makeup. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Noleen: Sure, well first of all I wanted to say I’m super excited to be here Raquel so thank you so much for having me. Yes I will happily tell you a little bit about myself now. So I’m from Dublin in Ireland although I live now in Gdansk in Poland. I’m a makeup artist and a Green Beauty blogger. But as you mentioned when we had our conversation we found that we both had a very similar background and how we’ve come to what we’re doing today. Just like yourself, I was also in the corporate world for a very long time, for over a decade actually. But I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, I was never really fulfilled doing the work I was doing and I knew that I wanted to do something that I was a bit more passionate about and that could kind of make a difference as well , and work that really fulfilled me. So that’s what led me to being a makeup artist and green beauty blogger now. I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted that decision , which I know you’re similar too as well.
Raquel: Love it, totally get it. Yep.
Noleen: Ya, obviously being an entrepreneur , it has its ups and downs too but it’s definitely worth it I think.
Raquel: Yeah I know I totally agree, I think that you know the downs are totally worth doing what you love every single day.
Noleen: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. It’s really uplifting every day to be doing work that you love doing and getting to work with lovely people like yourself. And I know certainly for me , god since I started its really opened me up to meeting so many people that I never would have had the opportunity to meet and just so many opportunities as well. Doing things like this today for example.
Raquel: Totally agree. And one of the things I noticed, so Noleen has this cruelty free guide on her website that talks all about cruelty free and how to buy products that are cruelty free and how to decipher what’s not . Can you tell us a little bit about that and a little bit more about Noleen Sliney Makeup?
Noleen: Sure, yep. So I guess I’ll start with Noleen Sliney Makeup, what it is and what I do. So the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is people seem so overwhelmed when it comes to beauty and makeup. They’re overwhelmed by all of the products out there. They’re overwhelmed by all the information they’re being told. You need this and you need that. You know what it’s like, every day the new fancy serum and this oil and all these makeup products that you need. If you look at some of the pictures on Instagram, or even YouTube videos, people are applying makeup with like 50 products. You know, and I’m like thinking, I mean I’m a professional makeup artist and I’m even thinking ‘oh my god I’ve overwhelmed’ by that . It’s crazy. It’s not even that, it’s just so unnecessary and what I do is I take away the overwhelm for people, basically the overwhelm of choosing the products and applying the products because for me at the end of the day you only need really a few products to do a really, really good look. You can do it also only a few minutes. You don’t need like a half hour or an hour every single day for that. So that’s what I do, I teach people how to actually apply products, what products they actually need or few products they need, within a few minutes and it’s all products that are going to enhance your natural beauty and make you look and feel refreshed and rejuvenated and fabulous. Which obviously is gonna make you feel full of self confidence as well of course because when you look good you feel good and when you feel good you feel absolutely amazing.
Raquel: I agree, I totally love that. I used to, as I was younger wear twenty different pieces of makeup and now I have 3 maybe 4. I love what you’re doing, that sounds awesome.
Noleen: Thank you so much. And of course obviously the other side of that is that all of the products that I talk about are all cruelty free, natural and organic ingredients. Because for me it’s not about putting any ol’ product on your face, it’s about products that are going to be kind to your health and to your skin and of course also to animals and the environment as well because that’s super important to me. And I don’t care how amazing a product is claimed to be or how this brand is or the reputation they have, if they don’t adhere to the very minimum of cruelty free beauty then I don’t want to know about it.
Raquel: Yeah, definitely. Is that something that you’re guide kind of helps people learn what is the bare minimum of cruelty free.
Noleen: So the absolute bare minimum of cruelty free, well basically what cruelty free means is that you’re; not testing your products on animals. You’re also not testing your ingredients on animals. So that’s basically what it means. There’s obviously a few other factors to that as well, for example that you’re not outsourcing the testing to somebody else. That is something that I will touch on later but, you know there are some claims from brands that they’re cruelty free when really all they’re saying is that their end product is cruelty free but the ingredients may have been tested on animals or the that they may not do the animal testing themselves but they’re outsourcing it to a third party to do it on their behalf. These are kind of little things that..
Raquel: I didn’t even know that, and how are you able to research that?
Noleen: So this is the thing, this is how I found out all of this, through a lot of research. What I tried to do in the guide actually is you know take away the overwhelm of this because it was a very overwhelming topic for me when I first started realizing this and what was going on. So what I tried to do in the guide is break it down into things like this, so first of all what does cruelty free mean and how to be sure a brand is cruelty free and I’ve also given a list of what brands are cruelty free and what ones aren’t. That’s also I think when you start off, you know you’re kind of thinking, okay is my favourite brand cruelty free or not and that’s what you really want to know first of all. I know for me it certainly was the first thing I did, oh my god I’ve been using this product and this brand for years are they okay or not? So that’s what I’ve done in the guide is try to break things down as simply as possible with just enough information to get you started. And the number one thing as I say is your brand cruelty free or not.
Raquel: Yeah I’ve seen the guide and what I think, what I like what you do is you talk about parent companies and the subsidiaries that they own. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Noleen: Sure, yep yep. So this is something that I think a lot of people are not aware of about the beauty industry is that really they are only run by a few companies, a few big parent companies. And whilst they’re a lot of smaller brands, like there’s hundreds of brand obviously. But I would be pretty sure that any of those smaller brands are owned by a bigger parent company. So an example of that is, some of the big parent companies are L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, and COTE and they all own smaller brands okay. So I’ll just go back to L’Oreal for example, they own Urban Decay, they own NYX, the Body Shop is also one of theirs . Estee Lauder is another big one, they own brands like MAC and Smashbox, Clinique is another one under their umbrella group as well. And the problem here is with the Parent companies, which you kind of touched on is that you kind of have two scenarios here really. So Estee Lauder for example, they are not cruelty free, okay. And also neither are MAC, Smashbox or Clinique.
Raquel: And they don’t claim to be, is that it?
Noleen: So well, so they actually kind of do. So what I can actually give you is an example. Estee Lauder, this is the statement, I took this exactly from their website okay. So they say that the Estee Lauder companies do not test on animals and we never ask others to do so on our behalf, if a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment an exception can be made. So that statement straight away is extremely misleading. This is something that I struggled with in the beginning as well because the very first thing was okay I’m going to go check if a brand is cruelty free. I go obviously to their website and it’s often in their FAQ section. You go and read a statement like that and the first thing you see is, ‘does not test on animals, we don’t ask other to either’ and you’re like ‘Ah, okay few it’s okay’. And then you read that last sentence there, it’s the last sentence that is extremely misleading. And it’s the bit where it says ‘an exception can be made if a regulatory body demands it’. If you see that statement of a variation of it, that’s when the alarm bells should be ringing because that means actually they are not cruelty free.
Raquel: Right because I know that if you want to sell a product in China you have to go through animal testing and Estee Lauder, L’Oreal; they’re all selling their products in China. So, that’s covering their ‘behind’ so that they can address both audiences. Which is not transparent and it’s not right so I’m glad that we’re talking about this today. It really upsets me because here they are, portraying themselves a certain way but they’re not being honest. You have to go and do super research, you know to figure this out.
Noleen: That’s it, you hit the nail on the head there. You would kind of feel as you read that statement, oh okay so this is good, but they’re not being honest, you’re absolutely right. That’s why it is so important to do some research yourself. Even if you emailed them, that’s probably what you would get back from them as well. And you’d be thinking, okay well they’re saying that they’re not but in reality it’s not true because if you’re selling your products in a country where you are conducting animal testing, well then you’re not a cruelty free company. It doesn’t matter whether you’re cruelty free in a hundred other countries, if you’re conducting animal testing in even just one country you’re not a cruelty free brand.
Raquel: Right, and you can’t claim to be, exactly. No I agree. And so, how can consumers figure all this out? Is there a way through logos? Or is there a way for them to decipher what’s truly cruelty free?
Noleen: Yep, so there are a couple of things that you can do. So you just touched on it there. There are some logos that you would see on products and basically what those products mean, they are kind of certifying bodies who – so a brand can go to one of these certifying bodies and basically obtain this cruelty free certification. Basically proof that you are cruelty free. Some of the ones that you’ll see the most, there’s three of them that are probably the most common ones that you would see. For example one of them are the leaping bunny one. I’m sure a lot of people have seen those on products, you know maybe you’ve seen it and you didn’t even know what it meant. But basically that is one of the most trusted certifications you can get and brands really have to go through rigorous testing to obtain their certification. So if you see that you can be pretty certain that the brand is actually cruelty free. Now I will just put one little caveat on that there, now we obviously talk about cosmetics here today and the leaping bunny does only cover cosmetics. So there are some brands that make cosmetics and they also make drugs and the cruelty free certification from Leaping Bunny is only for the cosmetics that they make. So there isn’t any proof about the drugs but you know we’ll just talk about cosmetics today because again that’s a whole big mine field. There are so many other roads that we can go down on this but at the very least you can be certain that you’re cosmetics have not been tested on animals with Leaping Bunny.
The other one that is really, really good a very trusted is the CCF Rabbit which is called ‘Choose Cruelty free’, it’s Fan Australian non profit company. What I love even more about their one is they actually only award certification to companies whose parent company also have cruelty free status. So that’s very important and touches on the point we were speaking about a moment ago.
Raquel: Okay, I have a follow up question for you.
Raquel: So say a company is owned by L’Oreal, but they don’t test on animals, how does that work? Are they still cruelty free or does the parent company make them test on animals if because now that they own them they want to take them overseas and maybe to that Asian market in which you have to do that? How does that work?
Noleen: That’s a excellent question. There’s a couple of things I can mention on that here. We’ll go back to L’Oreal again and they are actually such a great example because the two brands that I mentioned that are with them, or under them their umbrella is Urban Decay and NYX and both of those brands by themselves actually do have cruelty free status. But this is where it’s important then, which cruelty free status they have. Those brands themselves, they are cruelty free. They don’t test on animals and I know Urban Decay in particular are very strict on that and when they did get bought over by L’Oreal they said look we want to stay cruelty free we don’t want to ever test on animals. It was one of the kind of stipulations when signing over to L’Oreal, so they were allowed to keep that and they do have the cruelty free status. But the thing is, as you say there are some brand where, smaller brands where they are under the L’Oreal umbrella we’ll say, you know maybe L’Oreal might say to them we’re actually going to take over everything now and you’re going to have to test you’re products on animals or we want you to sell in China. So this is just something yet again, you just have to do your research on to see of those brands that are under we’ll say under the L’Oreal umbrella or Estee Lauder or whoever, you know that brand itself, are they cruelty free? Are they now going to sell in China? For example there have been brands like Loccitane and Nars, who are cruelty free and I’ll be honest, Loccitane was actually one of my favourite brands who were completely cruelty free and then they decided they were going to sell in China. They had the certification and everything and it was taken away from them because again if you’re going to sell in China where they’re testing on animals you cannot be a cruelty free company. So obviously I stopped buying from them of course as well and then they got their certification rescinded. Nars were the same although I’m not sure, I know because there has been a lot of chopping and changing with Nars, they were going to sell in China then I think they got their certification rescinded and now I’m not sure, they may be pulling out of China. Some companies have done that because they’ve said well actually we do prefer to have our certification and it’s not worth doing this anymore.
Raquel: Oh really, okay. So if you’re a consumer and you want to make sure you’re buying something that’s cruelty free, check for the Leaping Bunny. The second was, what was it called again?
Noleen: CCF, so Choose Cruelty Free. It’s also a Rabbit as well and it’s called the CCF Rabbit.
Raquel: Okay, are those the two major ones or is there is there a third one?
Noleen: There is another one that a lot of people would have heard of probably, it’s PETA. Which is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. A lot of companies do have that one but again there is a slight caveat with that one, and that’s the one I’d be just a little bit more careful of because they do some amazing work, they absolutely do but they don’t require that companies are subjected to independent audits. So you know , really all they ask for is a company says oh yeah look we are cruelty free and we can give you a few documents that say we’re e this and bla bla, but they don’t actually do and independent audit where the other two do. So they’re a little bit more rigorous in that way. Now that doesn’t mean when you see something with PETA on it, it’s doesn’t mean that actually it isn’t cruelty free because it probably is. But it’s just something to you know, again that’s why I say do a little bit of your own research as well, reach out to companies, see what people are saying online, see what other blogs are saying or other agencies that are out there. You know, you’ll find the information you want when you Google it. That’s what I have done with companies that I wasn’t so sure of or if I wasn’t so happy with the answers I got back from them, I just decided to do my own research then as well.
Raquel: Right so you’re saying the there’s kind of tiers to how strong the different certifications are, even thought all of them are trying to work towards cruelty free and that’s what they’re mission is. Some have more stringent standards that others. So the top would be Leaping Frog…
Noleen: Leaping Bunny
Raquel: Oh, leaping Bunny. Leaping Frog, what?
Noleen: (Laughter) Leaping frog, that’s cute I like that actually.
Raquel: I mean they’re affecting frogs now.
Raquel: So Leaping Bunny, CCF and then PETA. So now that we have this information, how do we get started? Like if I wanted to… how do I slowly start integrating cruelty free products into my lifestyle? What would you suggest for that?
Noleen: There’s a few things that I’m going to say on this and there’s a few steps you can take. Like obviously when you find out this information the very first thing you want to do is throw all of the stuff that’s not cruelty free, I know that what I wanted to do. But I don’t recommend doing that either, and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But what I’ll do is I’ll give you three steps first of all that you can do to just get you started on this.
So the very first step is to download my cruelty free beauty guide because honestly I do have so much information on there that’s going to help you. What I’m going to do, I mean you’ve seen the guide so you know what’s in it Raquel. What I would say is after you download the guide have a good read over it. Then obviously look to see are your brands are on the good list or the bad list okay, or brands that you’re thinking about buying from. Then what I would say is once you’ve established which list they’re on , especially if they’re on the bad list and they do conduct animal testing what I would say is slowly but surely stop buying from those brands.
I’ll touch on my point earlier that I said, you know don’t through everything out all at once. I know it’s tempting but one of the reasons not to do that is first of all it’s such a waste. There’s already enough waste in the world we don’t need any more so if you still have products finish them off and then what I would say I once the product is finished just don’t buy from them anymore. And use a product instead that is cruelty free. So let’s say for example your lipstick is just about to run out, once it’s run own go and buy a new lipstick from a brand that is cruelty free. That’s what I would suggest. Another thing I would say is not to try everything all out at once and then start buying everything new again is that, because you’re skin can react to that as well. So if you’re using products that are completely new, it’s overwhelming for your skin, you know you’re skin might react and you won’t know which product or ingredient it was that you reacted to. You know obviously you’re back to square on again because oh I’ve just spent a ton of money on all these products but I actually have to throw them out and start again. Just be a little bit careful with that as well.
Raquel: Yeah, it’s about transitioning slowly and the point is you want it to eventually be a lifestyle change. So like, when you’re on a diet, you don’t want to, I mean it’s more difficult to go cold turkey. It’s better when you do your own research and you feel better about it, you know what you’re doing, you know what is going into you your body and on your body. It’s better to just take your most used product that you’ve run out of and start doing your own research.
Are there any other agencies if someone wants to kind of support cruelty free, how would they get in touch, how do they do that?
Noleen: So I would say go directly to the websites, so those three that I mentioned already they are a really good starting point. I mean there’s obviously so many more of them out there but you start off small and they often have petitions up which are very very good and they do some really great work in this area. Even if nothing else, you’re getting awareness out there. I think it’s Cruelty Free International, there’s people like Ricky Gervais for example, Leona Lewis, like they have a lot of really big celebrities that are endorsing them as well and they help get the message out. Obviously you can do your bit by signing these petitions; by not buying from these brands because at the end of the day it’s all about profits and that’s when these brands will really start to notice, when it hits their pocket and when they’re not making as much money as they used to, they’ll be like oh okay, well we’ll have to make a change here. So that is really probably the absolute best thing you can do is just don’t support them with your money at all.
Raquel: Right, then they’ll start making changes and have end their practices. Yeah, I like that. You know what Noleen I was just thinking I was at this conference e yesterday with Investing Women and there was over 150 different women there and we were talking about beauty and a women said that her daughter who’s 18, the first thing that she looks for when she’s buying a beauty product is that it’s cruelty free and I just thought, that’s so great to hear. Because I fell like when I was 18, first of all that was a long time ago…
Noleen: (Laughter) Not that long ago Raquel.
Raquel: Second of all that there wasn’t that much information on it and now it’s so good to see that younger people are wanting to know more about this space.
Noleen: Absolutely love that Raquel, and it’s so refreshing to hear and you know an 18 year old, you know as you said at that age you’re usually more interested in how many products can I put on and looking at trends, for example what everybody else is doing and you know if other people are wearing makeup from brands that are not cruelty free you kind of want to fit in so I think it’s absolutely fantastic that that girl is doing that. You know, I presume there’s probably more people like her out there as well and hopefully this is a trend that younger people will start to realise this as well.
Raquel: Yeah and I think that now brands are going to see that it’s so important to the younger generation and that it needs to be important to them. Yeah I’m very excited about that, I was so excited to hear as well about that young girl because like you said usually when your 18 your worried about having something on that lasts all night so it’s just refreshing to see and am exciting to see where this space goes.
So is there anything else that you would give for someone who is transitioning into being cruelty free or any other little pieces of advice you’d give to someone?
Noleen: Something else I would say, another way that you can be pretty sure that what your buying is cruelty free is obviously if you’re buying from natural and organic beauty brands. So again there are certifications and I know we’re not talking about that today but there are other certifications that natural and organic beauty products can obtain to prove that first of all their products and ingredients actually are natural and organic. For example the Soil Association is one of the most well known ones. But what those certifying bodies also stipulate or one of the basics that they ask is that a brand is cruelty free, that they absolutely don’t test their products on animals and the ingredients as well are not tested on animals. That’s one of the number one things that they’re going to look for. So if you’re buying from a brand that has a certification like that you can be certain that they haven’t tested their products on animals.
Raquel: Okay wow I feel like I’ve learned so much today Noleen. So we are going to link Noleen’s guide to the podcast and if anyone wants to get in touch Noleen what, is the best way to do that?
Noleen: They can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can obviously just come over to the website as well and fill out the contact form there. I’m at Noleenslineymakeup.com. I’m also on Instagram and Facebook everyday so if you want to come over there and say hi I would love to see you.
Raquel: Sounds fab, so we have totally enjoyed our time today. I love just having an open conversation about natural beauty, cruelty free, just so people , I learn something from people every day within this space and I just feel it’s such an important thing to educate people because like we spoke today, it’s not transparent. Thank you again for coming on the show.
Noleen: You’re very welcome.
Raquel: We hope to have you again on soon.
Noleen: Oh I can’t wait I hope to be invited on again soon.
Raquel: You will, thank you and again thank you for listening to clean chat everyone. Have a great day, bye.