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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2018
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What does it mean to be cruelty-free?

Cru·el·ty-free (adj.) - (Of cosmetics or other commercial products) “Manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has stated, “It’s important to support brands that take an ethical stand against the suffering of animals, even if that decision could be detrimental to their profits.”

If you agree, it’s important to make a commitment to seek out the highest quality products from companies that share your values. Every cleanser, lotion, serum and oil — every product used or for sale in a spa — should be carefully chosen only after it has met strict (but simple) standards: gentle enough that you would feel comfortable trying them on your children and free from all practices that involve animal testing or undue harm to the environment.

I’m willing to bet that most of us are of the belief that animal testing is a thing of the past. Sadly, this sentiment is only partially true. While we should certainly pause in celebration at the idea that cosmetics testing on animals in the U.S. and many other countries has come to an end over the course of the last thirty years, consumers should be aware that many major product brands (or their parent companies) that we readily use and recognize here in the U.S. quietly pay for animal testing in order to sell their cosmetic products in China.

Did you know Chinese law requires mandatory animal testing on all cosmetics products that are manufactured outside of China? This includes many items found in almost every home: makeup, perfume, skin care, nail products, hair products, hair dye, deodorant, sunscreen and whitening products. The tests these animals endure are unnecessary, often painful, archaic and they are completely irrelevant to human health. Animals used for these experiments include rabbits, primates, mice, cats and dogs.

As long as this mandatory animal testing law remains in place, I feel that it’s important not to support brands that take part in animal testing in order to sell their products in China.

Being in the skin care and wellness industry, I love my personal products as much as the next person. I personally draw a firm line, however, with animal cruelty. And I challenge other salon and spa owners, retailers and each and every consumer, to dig a little deeper into the ingredients in the products they use and the companies that create them.

We have the power to change the world, simply by changing what’s in our medicine cabinets.

There is a beautiful quote by Mother Theresa about “doing small things with great love.” This is a perfect example, and it’s simple. By choosing kind and compassionate cosmetics and not supporting companies with questionable ethical practices, we have a voice to let that company know that animal testing is unacceptable to us. There are so many great products out there. There’s no reason to compromise our values in the name of great skin, hair or nails!

I recommend taking an item or two from your personal care routine and searching that product against the databases at The Environmental Working Group, The Cruelty-Free Kitty or PETA. It’s amazing what you can find, and these tools provide extensive resources to learn more.

Michelle Vandeyacht

Michelle Vandeyacht is the founder of Komorebi & Co., LLC and is a licensed practitioner of both esthetics and massage therapy with nine years of experience. She has been a life-long advocate of a cruelty-free, plant-based lifestyle and is a mom to three children and one old Pitbull mix. She and her partner Dave enjoy cycling and traveling whenever possible. You can find her at Komorebi & Co., 500 W. Franklin Street in downtown Appleton, and at



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