In my bathroom cabinet

I write a lot about food, and even though food of course is a central part of veganism, it’s not all that there is. As I’ve said many times; veganism is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. A part of this lifestyle is trying to keep your bathroom as cruelty-free as possible, so in this post I will write about some of my favorite cruelty-free – or vegan – cosmetic brands.

Faith in NatureWhen it comes to shampoo and conditioners, I really love Faith in Nature. I’ve tried so many conditioners, and none of them seemed to work on my hair, until I found Faith in Nature. It doesn’t make matters worse that their products come in a lot of amazing, natural scents! Apart from shampoos and conditioners they also make soaps, lotions, deodorants, cleaning products and even pet shampoos, unfortunately not all of these products can be found here in Finland.

Kingfisher toothpasteFor my teeth I use Kingfisher‘s toothpaste. There are other vegan brands out there, but this one is my favorite. It comes in different versions, both with added fluoride and without. I use the Mint-flavored fluoride-free one.

Crazy RumorsI’m addicted to lip balm, I have to admit that. I have to have one in my bag or my pocket all the time so that I can apply it whenever I want, or I will feel like my lips are cracking. So naturally I’ve tried a lot of different ones, and there are several good vegan ones out there. However, my favorite is definitely Crazy Rumors. They give a soft and not too sticky feeling after applying, and keep your lips moisturized. And they come in tons of different flavors, everything from tea to ice cream.

All pictures in this post comes from the company websites.

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Fighting for a world free from animal testing

Even though the EU accepted a new law prohibiting animal testing of cosmetics within the union last year, the law is far from perfect, and there is a lot more to be done on behalf of the animals used in animal testing for both cosmetic and other reasons.

In fact, the number of animals used in tests in Finland have increased during the last few years, even though you would think that the reality would be the opposite considering how much alternatives have been developed. The animal protection organisation Animalia launched a new campaign last week, with the intend of turning the trend and make sure fewer animals are used for animal testing year by year.

In Finland, most animal tests (70%) are done for basic research, in other words to get information about different biologic processes, without really giving any answers to specific (medical) problems. Genetic manipulation has increased the use of animals for these kind of tests. Animal tests used for medical research amount for less than one-fourth of all animal tests conducted in Finland. The most used animals are mice, rats and fishes, but also rabbits, dogs, pigs and sheep are used a lot. Apart from the use of animals in direct experiments, a lot of animals are also raised so that their tissues can be used.

The well-being of animals used in animal tests is questionable, even apart from the tests themselves, which might be very painful and in some cases cause chronic problems. The living conditions of the animals are poor, they live in confined spaces – rats that are fond of climbing, for example, can live their whole life in cages so low that they can’t even stand up on their back legs – and get no stimulation whatsoever.

There are a lot of alternatives for animal tests, and it has also been proven over and over again that results of tests conducted on animals cannot be directly transferred to humans, but require further research. When it comes to animals raised for their tissues, the problem could easily be resolved by using donated human tissues, which can be done the same way as donating organs – something you might want to consider doing!

On the campaign website www.koe-elain.fi you can find more information about the campaign, about animal testing and it’s alternatives (unfortunately only in Finnish).

In the face of change

I’m sorry for the silence lately, I’ve been so busy with life that the blog has been of less priority. Now we are however all moved in to our new apartment in Helsinki, our wedding is in the past (yes, I just got married – more about that and the great vegan food we had during the wedding in another post), and next week I start my new job.

I’ve just been in Helsinki for a few days now, except the visits I’ve made during the last month since R moved down here. I’m a countryside girl and my thought when I knew we were moving to a big city was something like “Oh no, how can I stand it with all the buildings, traffic, people and busyness?”, but the fact is that I pretty much love the area where we live already. It’s close to the water and beaches, it has several parks and other nature areas and nice places to go walking or running, and still it only takes about 15 minutes to go to the city center by public transport. I think I can enjoy my life here.

The fact that Helsinki is a bigger city also means more options of vegan food, products and restaurants, which I haven’t had time to check out that much yet, but I will, sooner or later. One place that I have had time to visit though, is the all vegan store Heluna Shop in Sörnäinen (Torkkelinkatu 3C, close to the metro station). It’s small and cosy and the woman working there when we visited was very friendly. The store sells some food stuffs, shoes, hygiene products, household products, cosmetics, books, vitamins and even dog food – all vegan. The store is open Tuesdays 1 pm- 7 pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 1 pm- 5 pm and Saturdays 10 am- 2 pm. Check it out if you happen to be in Helsinki! If you’re not, but live somewhere else in Finland or in Europe they also have an online shop.

EU (almost) free of animal tested cosmetics

As of today, the 11th of March, a new directive concerning animal testing of cosmetics will finally be taken into use in the European Union. In theory this means that it is from now on illegal to sell animal tested cosmetics within the EU. In practice, it is a bit more complicated than that, but it is still a huge step in the right direction.

Some things to consider concerning the directive are:

1. There is no good system developed for ensuring that cosmetics coming from outside the EU are not animal tested in any part of the process.

2. The directive means that no new animal tests can be carried out for cosmetic purposes, but companies can still sell products that have been animal tested before the 11th of March, so for a period of time these products will still be around.

3. China demands animal testing of cosmetic products, but since the testing is done by government agencies and not by the companies themselves, their products can still be sold in the EU.

4. Companies (also EU based ones) can still sell animal tested cosmetics outside of EU, as long as the animal testing was done in another part of the world than the EU. Theoretically this means that they have to give up animal testing of cosmetics for the EU market, but they can still use this kind of testing for other markets.

I will still do a check up on products before I buy them to avoid animal tested ones, using for example Animalia’s list of non-animal tested cosmetics that are sold in Finland (maybe the animal rights organisation in your country has a similar list). However, it is really a great step forward and something that has inspired also countries from outside the EU (such as Israel and India) to move towards other types of testing of cosmetics. For me, the main thing is that we are moving forward, that something is happening.

Remember also that “non-animal tested” does not automatically mean “vegan”. Companies can avoid animal testing their products, but they might still have animal-derived ingredients in the products. I admit that I don’t really know all animal-derived ingredients by heart (because there are a lot), and sometimes I probably buy products that do have some small animal-derived ingredient, but I try to avoid it. There are companies that only use vegan ingredients in their products and if possible I try to stick to them.

(Information about the directive taken from the Finnish animal protection organization Animalia‘s membership magazine, as well as Cruelty Free International’s website.)

A hope for an end to animal testing of cosmetics

“Over 80% of the world allows animals to be used in cruel and unnecessary cosmetics tests and these animal tested cosmetics can be purchased in every country across the globe.” – Cruelty Free International

There are alternatives to animal testing, and no living being should have to go through so much pain and suffering for our beauty’s sake.

Cruelty Free International is a global campaign started by the British organisation BUAV that strives to implement a worldwide ban on animal testing of cosmetics. On their website there is information about animal testing, the available alternatives, links to where you can find non-animal tested products in your country, etc. Included in the campaign is also a pledge, asking governments all over the world to ban animal testing of cosmetics and their ingredients.

The European Union was supposed to be free of all animal tested cosmetics by 2013, but now this ban might be postponed. There is a separate petition for this, asking the EU to keep their promise.

It takes only a minute of your time to sign these petitions, but it is a big help to the animals that suffer in laboratories all over the world!