{Guest Post: Christine Gianas Weinheimer} Embrace True Beauty This Holiday Season: 5 Steps Toward Banishing Cruel Cosmetics

Photo by Brian Fagan/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Brian Fagan/Flickr Creative Commons

Happy holidays!

There are only two days left before Christmas and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably spending these last couple of days picking out your last minute gifts, wrapping them, and crossing your fingers that your chosen goodies will be cherished by their recipient. I still have a few more presents to purchase for my family members and am looking forward to sharing some vegan and cruelty-free goodies with them.

Speaking of cruelty-free beauty products, today I welcome freelance writer Christine Gianas Weinheimer to Cowgirls & Collard Greens for the first time. Christine and I met in 2012 outside of Bozeman, Montana at a Cowgirl Yoga Retreat for breast cancer survivors put on by Big Sky Yoga Retreats. Christine was one of the many wellness practitioners on hand sharing her expertise in yoga as well as Ayurvedic medicine. Today however, Christine is here to share her top picks for cruelty-free holiday gifts and tips on how to shop for animal-free beauty products. Passionate about both wellness and animals, it’s Christine’s goal to make a difference in the fight to end all animal testing. Thanks for sharing your expertise Christine!

xo, Kayle

P.S. ~ Sending my best wishes to all of my family, friends, followers and subscribers this season and in the coming New Year. Together we can make 2016 the most compassionate year yet!


I used to think that shopping for cruelty-free cosmetics would limit me to the aisles of the heath food store, and utilitarian product tins that all smelled vaguely of incense or patchouli. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Today, there are options for all tastes, including everything from high-end make-up, to luxurious organic skincare, to budget-friendly finds at mainstream chain stores.

Rabbit & Guinea Pig by Chris Parfitt/Flickr Creative Commons
Rabbit & Guinea Pig by Chris Parfitt/Flickr Creative Commons

Until a couple years ago, I wasn’t too worried about the beauty products I was using. Back in the 1980s, bold advocacy campaigns exposed cruel animal testing by big-name cosmetic brands. The ensuing consumer pressure led many of the largest parent companies like Revlon and Estée Lauder to change their animal-testing policies. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

I have since faced reality: there’s still widespread use of animals to safety-test products such as mascara, deodorant, shaving cream, and shampoo. Rabbits, rodents, and even cats and dogs are forced to suffer the testing, then routinely euthanized.

Sadly, there’s been a trend in recent years for several of the same companies that were previously cruelty-free to quietly start testing again. The primary reason is the desire to expand into the highly lucrative Chinese market, where animal testing of imported cosmetics is required. Usually, the companies hire a third party to do the dirty work for them, leading the landscape of corporate websites to be rife with ambiguous statements that emphasize a commitment to animal welfare, but don’t unequivocally deny testing.

Despite the confusing doubletalk, it is now easier than ever to identify and purchase cruelty-free products, as well as to speak out against animal testing. Whether you’re confused about how to find cruelty-free products, already living cruelty-free but want to do more for animals, or just looking for a small gift for a compassionate friend… read on.

It’s Simple to Buy Cruelty-Free and Help Save Animals!

Here are five things you can do to help end the suffering of animals at the hands of cosmetic companies:


1) Find out which products are cruelty-free. I find the most convenient way to check which products are tested on animals is to download an app to your phone. There are several free options, but make sure you choose a credible source that frequently verifies and updates information. I use the Cruelty-Cutter app, as I find it simple to use, with cool features like an effective bar-code scanner and a social media share function. If you prefer to look online, PETA maintains a comprehensive list that also indicates which products contain animal ingredients. Most cosmetic directories also list household cleaning products — some of the worst offenders in realm of animal testing.


2) Make a statement with your wallet. When it’s time to shop, if you can’t find a certain product listed in a directory, just inspect the item itself. You’ll find that most products that are not tested on animals will proudly indicate their cruelty-free status on their labels or packaging (or on their website if you’re shopping online). Look for a straightforward statement like “Not Tested on Animals” or the internationally recognized Leaping Bunny logo (see logo, right), signifying that the company is certified by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. As a rule of thumb, you should assume that if an item doesn’t say it’s cruelty-free, it probably isn’t.

If you’ve made it this far and you’re buying cruelty-free, you’re already making a significant difference! But if you’re like me, you won’t want to stop there. Just a few extra minutes of your time each month to take the following steps can help end the suffering of our furry friends in laboratories.

3) Clue in the companies. After flexing your consumer muscles, you can drive home the point by contacting cosmetic companies that test. Simply Google the website, click on “Contact Us” and dash off a quick note saying that you won’t purchase their products until they stop testing on animals. Even if the top management can’t be swayed by compassion, you can be sure they’re concerned about the bottom line. If you’re feeling especially feisty, you can post your message on the brand’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. You may also want to thank your favorite company that has chosen to be cruelty-free.

4) Contact your legislators. Ask federal lawmakers to support the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2858), which would prohibit animal testing for all cosmetic products manufactured or sold in the United States. This sweeping legislation is not farfetched; several other countries, including the entire European Union, have already passed similar laws. The Humane Society has a handy template email that will even let you quickly look up your legislator’s contact info.

5) Stay informed and support organizations like the National Anti-Vivisection Society or Beagle Freedom Project, which are devoted to raising awareness about, and ultimately ending, animal testing. There is some promising work being done, but it relies on public awareness, advocacy and generosity to continue.

It’s a highly social time of year, and we all want to look and feel our best. But there’s no reason why animals should be tortured for the sake of “beauty,” especially when so many cruelty-free alternatives exist. My hope for 2016 is that more people than ever take steps to end animal suffering, and choose something truly gorgeous: compassion.

Cruelty-Free Gift Ideas

Still have some last-minute holiday shopping to do? Here are a few ideas for pampering friends and family with products from some of my favorite cruelty-free brands:


Stocking stuffers for her:
Nail Lacquers in Hypnotic and Thunder Road, $12 each
SpaRitual nail lacquers are vegan and free of DBP, toluene, camphor, formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin.
Urban Decay
24/7 Eye Pencils $16-20, Revolution Lipgloss Duo $14, Good Karma Blush Brush $32
This makeup brand is known for its edgy product names, extensive range of eye colors, and cruelty-free brushes. Vegan products are labeled prominently on their website.


Stocking stuffers for him
Jack Black
Industrial Strength Hand Healer $15, Turbo Wash Cleanser for Hair & Body $23
These skin care and hair care products smell fresh and masculine, but in a natural way, thanks to the botanical ingredients. The entire “Pure Science” line is also vegan.

Host and hostess gifts
Soy Candle in Tibetan Mountain Temple $16, Natural Soap in Tuscan Blood Orange $6
Pacifica’s line of vegan fragrances, beauty products and candles come in chic packaging that makes every product gift-worthy.

I would love to hear about your own tips for finding cruelty-free brands, or your favorite products! Please share in the comments section below.


About Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Christine is certified as an Ayurvedic wellness counselor and yoga teacher, and holds a degree in social work. Her passion for helping people, animals, and the environment led her to a plant-based diet and a 25-year career in the nonprofit sector. She is currently a freelance and contract writer, and has written articles for The Flaming Vegan, Everyday Ayurveda, and several nonprofit organizations. She lives with her family in Bozeman, Montana.

Contact Christine at cgianas@yahoo.com or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cgweinheimer

Christine Gianas Weinheimer