A brief history of testing on animals
Humans have been testing on animals since about 500 BC – the time of the Greeks. Back then, many (including Aristotle) believed that animals lacked intelligence and so what was done to them didn’t matter.
But Theophrastus, a successor to Aristotle, said the animals did possess intelligence and that causing pain to them was an “affront to the gods”. This is the earliest known debate about the ethics of testing on animals.
Many years have passed and our understanding of animal testing is more robust. In 2004, The European Union banned all animal testing on cosmetic products. But the United States still has no such law in place.
That’s a real shame because animals who are bred for the sole purpose of testing live psychologically and physically painful lives.
But just because a country doesn’t have any laws in place regarding the use of animal testing, doesn’t mean that companies have to do it. That’s why Australian Gold is 100% cruelty-free no matter where we’re selling our products.
How Australian Gold makes cruelty-free sunscreen
Australian Gold is committed to creating high-quality, nourishing sun care products that aren’t tested on animals in any way. To make sure that we always live up to that expectation, we’ve partnered with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
PETA maintains a comprehensive database of companies that are cruelty-free. To get on the list, a business like ours must not test any of its products nor any of the ingredients in its products on animals at any point in the supply chain.
The results speak for themselves. You can search PETA’s database today and see that Australian Gold meets the organization’s rigorous expectations.
Of course, some very common cosmetic ingredients were invented a long time ago, before the issue of animal testing was as well understood as it is today.
Therefore, what PETA really cares about is that these ingredients weren’t tested on animals after a certain date. And Australian Gold’s products satisfy those requirements.
What cruelty-free means and what it doesn’t
Cruelty-free is a label that’s a bit of an abstraction. It’s worth reviewing what all it encompasses and what it excludes. We’ll do that in this section.
Cruelty-free means no direct testing on animals
When a company says that something is cruelty-free, one of the things that it means is that it doesn’t test the product on any animals themselves.
A hypothetical sunscreen company would violate this aspect of the cruelty-free label if they created a new sunscreen formula and tested it on animals.
Cruelty-free means no supplier testing on animals
The cruelty-free label also extends to a company’s suppliers. So if you see this label, that also means the businesses that supplied the company that made the cruelty-free product don’t test their products on animals.
Put another way, a hypothetical sunscreen company would violate this if they procured aloe vera from a company that tested their aloe vera on animals.
Cruelty-free doesn’t mean vegan
These two labels aren’t interchangeable with one another — each says something slightly different.
Something vegan contains no animal products or animal-derived ingredients. When something is cruelty-free, it means that neither the ingredients nor the product itself were tested on animals.
You can buy a product that’s cruelty-free and not vegan. And, surprisingly, you can also buy a product that’s vegan but not cruelty-free.
For example, some companies don’t use any animal products or animal-derived ingredients in their cosmetics. But they might still test those cosmetics on animals.
That’s why just looking for a vegan label isn’t enough.
Cruelty-free doesn’t say anything about environmental practices
Finally, just because a company doesn’t test on animals doesn’t necessarily mean that its products are good for the environment.
A cosmetics company can be cruelty-free while still contributing more than its fair share to the pollution of our planet. If this is something you’re passionate about, then you’ll need to look for other labeling.
Who regulates cruelty-free products?
Unfortunately, there is no regulatory power behind the cruelty-free label in the United States. That means companies are technically free to use it however they wish – even if some of their ingredients actually are tested on animals.
There are reasons why a business wouldn’t lie about this.
For example, it wouldn’t be that difficult for an activist to research a company’s testing practices and discover they weren’t telling the truth. If that became public knowledge, the company’s reputation may never recover.
Things are a bit better in the European Union, where it's expressly forbidden to use the cruelty-free label on products that don’t deserve it. But there hasn’t been a court case testing this rule. So it’s unclear how serious the EU is about enforcing it.
PETA and cruelty-free products
Since no official governmental organizations oversee cruelty-free regulations in the United States, third-party organizations have stepped in to pick up the slack.
PETA is the leading organization for the welfare of animals. Its Beauty Without Bunnies campaign was created to make it easier for consumers to learn about the testing practices that go into creating their favorite products.
You can search for any cosmetic company that you want on the campaign’s website and it’ll tell you whether that company tests any of its products or ingredients on animals.
Alternatives to animal testing
There are plenty of ways for a company to test its products without resorting to using unconsenting animal volunteers. Here are three of the most popular:
In vitro testing involves using a new technology called “organs on chips”. These grow human cells that mimic the real functioning of the organ systems.
These “chips” are a more effective way to test the efficacy and safety of products and ingredients. That’s because they mirror how human biology would respond to those inputs in a much more accurate way than crude animal tests can.
Experts have even said that in vitro testing is cheaper and faster than testing on animals.
Companies can also use complex computer modeling systems to replace animal testing. This involves using lots of data to simulate how a new product or ingredient would interact with humans’ biological systems.
There are studies that show computer modeling to be effective enough at simulating the impact of products to replace animal testing altogether.
Research with human volunteers
Finally, companies can always test their products and ingredients on willing human volunteers. This is much more ethical because the participants know the risks and accept them.
They’re also not bred for a life in a cage or disposed of after the experiments are done.
With human testing, volunteers are usually given a very small dose of whatever the product is. This dose is meant to be enough for the company to get the results that it needs without seriously endangering the life of the volunteers.
Does not testing on animals diminish the quality of a product in any way?
The unfortunate reality is that animal testing is the way that things have been done for a very long time. That means many people have gotten used to the idea of using things that were first confirmed to be effective on animals.
It could leave you questioning whether there’s some lack of quality or a potential safety issue with products that aren’t tested on animals.
But there absolutely isn’t.
Cruelty-free products are just as effective and safe as products that aren’t tested on animals. Some are even tested on humans or human cells, which may offer more accurate results than animals would.
The bottom line is that the cruelty-free label doesn’t diminish the quality of a product in any way.
Australian Gold’s cruelty-free sunscreens are the ethical way to take care of your skin
You need sunscreen to keep your skin safe from the sun’s UV rays. But that doesn’t mean you need to support animal testing or use subpar products.
Australian Gold sells a wide variety of nourishing sunscreens and sun care products, including:
Take a look at our online shop to see a full list of our products. You can shop confidently knowing that everything you see will be cruelty-free.