A little under three years ago, I pledged that the only cruelty involved in my make up bag would be the tweezers I use to pluck my eyebrows (OUCH!) I even ditched the eyelash curlers, because, let’s face it, those things are f*cking terrifying.
See, I started taking make up seriously quite late compared to my friends – only going through my Dream Matte Mousse phase at age 17, when most of us millennials had generally graduated to better brands, and I was a red lipstick virgin until 18 as well. Along the way, I’d accidentally stumbled into some good choices – it amazed me to learn that the old budget favourite Collection was cruelty free. But, despite boasting vegetarianism since age 11, I’d never given it a second thought.
I hate the conversation, but my vegetarianism boils down to me not feeling the animal suffering provided me with enough of a benefit in the end product – particularly when alternatives exist. This logic proved easy for me to ignore for years in a cognitively dissonant way when it came to what was going on to my face rather than in to my face.
When it came to ‘pledge day’ (which was more like a week long realisation and research period rather than a set day) my Rimmel lipstick I’d bought the very first time I’d ever gotten paid was on its last legs anyway. I begrudgingly handed over a full tube of possibly the best concealer I’ve ever used in my life to my mum, and my mascara and eyeliner were due to be replaced anyway. As each thing reached the end (or could find a new home), they were replaced with their cruelty free alternative.
Shampoos, body washes, and hair products followed next – although you’d expect that this would have been easier to do first in a lot of circumstances, I never actually bought my own products until I went to uni at 18 and could no longer just steal stuff from my mum. Most recently, I’ve moved into cruelty free deodorant and even cleaning products (Co-op and Superdrug are your friends, seriously).
It seems like a mammoth task looking back, and a very daunting and expensive one if you’re standing on the edge of it getting ready to pledge like I was, but it’s taken me three years. A lot of my make up did get binned or given away at the start, but 75% of them were products that needed to be replaced anyway. Following that, it was just a case of using the last of the Aussie Hair or Tresemme bottles that were sat in the bathroom and going to Lush instead. I’ve used up moisturisers that arrived as Christmas presents, debated the Body Shop parent company issue (they’re no longer owned by L’oreal, in case you don’t know), and I replaced as I went along.
I know some people don’t share this way of looking at it, I’m already imagining the responses I’d get from some people I’ve interacted with on twitter recently, but it’s a realistic and manageable way to go about it. When you think about it, throwing away a full bottle of Nivea I was gifted by an uncle would only have contributed to landfill and dry skin on my elbows. I don’t get toiletries as gifts anymore (my family find it’s easier to buy booze than to do their research) and I won’t recommend an animal tested product to anyone while I’m using it up, even if it is the greatest concealer ever (I’m still upset about it, okay), so the end result is exactly the same.
Now, if you open my make up bag, you’ll find my tweezers if you dig around in the bottom (let me know if you do, by the way, they’ve been lost for a while), several pairs of false eyelashes that always seem to make me feel at least slightly uncomfortable when I’ve been wearing them all night (please tell me this happens to other people) and one product that I’ve yet to use up (it’s MAC, sneaked in about a month pre pledge, it was expensive, don’t judge me) and the rest is cruelty free, and very few animal ingredients as well. An achievement, I think, one achieved one step at a time while battling both waste and consumer demand simultaneously.
Next up, ethical clothing. Then pharmaceuticals. Watch this space!