Being Cruelty-Free on a Budget

It’s hard to live cruelty-free when the main brands that are out there and in our faces are all about testing on animals. It gets harder still when you learn that even The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal, and even though none of The Body Shop products are tested on animals, L’Oreal still stands to benefit financially from our cruelty-free purchases. Then there’s the budget to think about. You’ve searched high and low for a cruelty-free eye liner in the right shade and a cruelty-free lipstick that doesn’t completely removed itself from your lips and smear itself all over your mug within seconds, only to find the price tag is twice that of your usual Almay or M.A.C product. It doesn’t exactly make it easy or appealing for us, because believe me I know just how much louder than the conscience the bank balance can shout.

As well as being a cruelty-free consumer, I am a big fan of buying locally made goods and avoiding the carbon footprint associated with import and export so I was pleased to learn that New Zealand manufacturers of cosmetics do not use testing on animals, nor do any of our testing facilities carry out animal testing for overseas companies. However, I did have a few questions about what the exporting of NZ manufactured goods means for their cruelty-free status, so I got in touch with the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society.

To start things off, NZAVS clarified that New Zealand cosmetic companies, by law, cannot test on animals within NZ, but can have animal testing conducted overseas. NZAVS then confirmed that if any company wants to export to a country that requires animal testing of imported cosmetics (e.g. China) it is the cosmetic company who finances it. However, they confirmed that to their knowledge, and to the knowledge of the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association of New Zealand, there are no NZ companies paying for overseas testing agencies to conduct animal testing on their products, for any reason. This basically means that no matter where you are in the world, if you purchase an NZ produced cosmetic, you are making a cruelty-free purchase.

Unfortunately shopping cruelty-free is pretty difficult when there are so many loopholes, and of course no product is advertised as being tested on animals. Most companies are, however, pretty quick to let us know that there ARE cruelty-free though by emblazing logos on their packing. There’s also a range of apps that you can download to help with your cruelty-free shopping, including SAFEshopper, and the PETA Bunny Free app, as well as a whole bunch of lists of companies that do and don’t test on animals. As good as these tools are, they don’t really allow for the student budget issue so here’s a guide that I’ve compiled from my own experience as a cruelty-free shopping student.

Make Up

Australis– Cruelty-Free and a massive range of vegan products too. Available online and in Farmers

E.L.F Cosmetics– cute name, vegan and cruelty-free. Available online and now at Kmart.

Rovie Mineral Cosmetics– can be purchased online and are very reasonably priced for vegan, chemical-free and cruelty-free products

Doll Face Mineral Cosmetics– Depending on what you’re used to paying, you might find this one suitable. NZ made so worth a look either way.

Washing you and your stuff

While most body care products state whether or not they are tested on animals, finding the same information for cleaning products is a little bit harder. Various combinations of baking soda and vinegar can tackle most situations, but for those that need something a little bit stronger, we recommend the Ecostore and Earthwise. Both are cruelty-free accredited which means they weren’t squirted in a poor bunny’s eye to see what the reactions is (#EndTheDraize).
Look out for them in your local supermarkets weekly specials. Sometimes they are more expensive than the other brands, sometimes they aren’t.
Organic Care– their shampoo, conditioner, and body wash is about as cruelty-free and sustainable as it gets, especially at their sweet prices. Available from most supermarkets and The Warehouse.

If you’re still about the baking soda/vinegar combo, check out Bin Inns homemade cleaning product recipes. Available on their website.


(So you can shop like a hippy without smelling like one)
There’s quite a lot out there, but the price tag is much higher than the standard supermarket bought product. I have come across a few that are the good though.

Innoxa- twice the price but twice the volume

Sukin- this one is about twice the price but is 125ml rather than 50ml

Natures Gate– twice the price but almost twice the volume

Crystal– similarly priced to the regular stuff if you buy from


This one is easy.
No-AD Suncare is where it’s at for sun protection. Cruelty-free, vegan and super affordable. Available online and in most pharmacies.
It’s worth noting that there are several companies that do not carry out any animal testing on their products and advocate against it, but are not deemed cruelty-free because their products may be subjected to animal testing for export purposes. Such companies include Nivea and Revlon. Technically they aren’t taking a full stand against animal testing, but the company itself isn’t conducting the testing (just paying for it instead). Sometimes, like when you’re trying to live on a student allowance, this is a compromise you have to make. L’Oreal have been funding research into methods that will replace animal testing since the 80’s, but still export to China.

It’s also worth noting that cruelty doesn’t just happen to animals, even in this day and age. Fair Trade are great anti-human cruelty products, so if you want to make sure your tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, and bananas are coming from workers who are being paid fairly and are not the victim of slave labour, look for the Fair Trade symbol.

As much as I would love it to be, this article is in no way a comprehensive list of cruelty-free shopping, so check out these websites for extra tips, and my grimoire for easy homemade products

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