We’ve listed some common questions, and will be adding some more in the near future. If you have a question that isn’t listed here, please email us, or post the question to our Facebook page

What is Vivisection? 

Vivisection is the practice of performing operations on live animals for the purpose of experimentation or scientific research. Animals are intentionally blinded, blistered and poisoned, for a company to offer shinier hair, clean toilets or sparkly teeth; they are imprisoned, tortured and when their usefulness is outlived, usually killed. 

Rabbits are commonly used in animal testing and often break their backs or necks to get out of restraints as they attempt to escape the pain of an ulcerated eye, which occurs because unlike humans, rabbits do not have tear ducts and cannot flush toxic substances out of their eyes. 

More reading: Animal testing

What is The Humane Guide? 

The Humane Guide is list of all companies endorsed for their humane status by Beauty without Cruelty. These companies have been audited by BWC and have proved they do not test their products on animals by passing our criteria.

You can get anything from sunblock to shampoo, toothpaste to toilet-cleaner, mascara to moisturiser and aftershave to aqueous cream, BWC has over 120 brands endorsed, and the list is growing!

Which companies test on animals? 

Many big name products we see on our supermarket shelves and in our department store cosmetic counters have been tested on animals.  Because animal testing is so prevalent, it is far more practical to audit individual companies to endorse with the Humane Guide than it is to provide a list of products that are tested on animals in which to avoid. As an overview here are an example of a few major companies and their brands that test on animals. 

Just a few examples:
Proctor & Gamble:Pantene, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Nice ‘n Easy, Olay, Oral B, Hugo Boss
Unilever: Domestos, Lux, Dove, Axe, Knorr, Sunlight, V05, Ponds, Sunsilk, Timotei
More companies: Avon, L’Oreal, Chanel, Clarins, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Revlons

A company says they don’t test on animals. Is it humanely manufactured? 

Many large companies claim that they don’t test their products on animals or that they don’t support animal testing. In many cases they go through great lengths to use deceptive PR methods and clever wording to conceal this information.

A few ways in which a company may do is: 

  1. The company claims the final product has not been tested on animals, but the separate ingredients for their products have been tested on animals.
  2. The company doesn’t test on animals, but a parent company or subsidiary company still tests it's final product on product ingredients on animals. 
  3. The company itself doesn’t test on animals, but outsources the animal testing to a third party.
  4. The company does not test on animals themselves but continue to buy, use and benefit financially from chemical ingredients that have recently been tested on animals by their suppliers.  

Should a company not be listed in our Humane Guide, but they are certain that their products are humane and will pass our criteria, then ask them to apply to be listed on our Humane Guide. Never rely solely only on a company’s word. If their products are truly humanely manufactured and not tested on animals, then they should be able to pass our basic criteria and Beauty without Cruelty would be happy to endorse them.  

The Advertising Standards Authority states that companies must be able to provide proof of their humane claims. BWC is an accepted independent organisationable to audit such proof.

More reading: How to spot an Animal Testing Company? 

A product's label says it’s hasn't been tested on animals. Is it humanely manufactured?

If a product says things like No animal testing / Cruelty Free / Against animal testing etc. on their packaging or website it does not mean it is true.  This is a common tactic used in deceptive marketing and labelling. 

A product can only be certified as “humane" if they are endorsed by a third independent party. The strictest third parties are The Leaping Bunny (Internationally) and Beauty Without Cruelty (South Africa). If your company does not test on animals in any form, then please check our criteria and apply for endorsement to get listed in our Humane Guide.

The product has a bunny icon on it. Is it cruelty free? 

Unless it is a logo of a verified 3rd party auditor like Beauty without Cruelty or The Leaping Bunny, then probably not. 

Unfortunately this is a deceptive marketing process called green-washing or humane-washing to make products appear to be ethical, green or humane to the consumer.  

Many companies also include rabbit logos on their packaging - but this is no guarantee that the item is genuinely humanely manufactured either.  

Why is the PETA list meaningless?

Because a letter from a company saying they don’t and won’t animal test is irrelevant. Why? Because companies lie. In several ways, and one of those ways is to hide behind saying they ‘only animal test when required to do so by law’, or that they will adhere to a countries guidelines in this regard. ALL the large brands do this. We will say it again- it’s not what they say, it’s what they PROVE.

The minimum requirement is assurances for every ingredient, as well as final product, and a minimum time frame cut-off date as the leaping bunny requires, and BWC expects subsidiaries and holding companies to comply with the same criteria, ie no animal testing, no sponsoring of animal testing etc. The PETA bad list is fine, as a company really has to be bad to get on to this list! The ONLY acceptable humane guides for consumers serious about their humane purchases are Leaping Bunny and BWC. The Leaping Bunny endorsement is an international standard and a group consisting of American Anti-Vivisection Society; Animal Alliance of Canada; Beauty Without Cruelty, USA; Doris Day Animal League; Humane Society of Canada; The Humane Society of the United States; the National Anti-Vivisection Society; and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments and The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS).

Why don’t you endorse The Body Shop? 

The Body Shop claims to not test on animals, however their parent company L’Oréal does test on animals. Our criteria states parent companies and their subsidiaries too, must also comply with our criteria. We cannot endorse The Body Shop since it’s profits are directed to a company who does test on animals. 

But L’Oréal says they don’t test on animals? 

L’Oréal do test on animals. They also go through great lengths to conceal this. For example on L’Oréal's website they promote their policy on animal testing as follows: 

L’Oréal no longer tests any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others. An exception would only be made if regulatory authorities demanded it for safety or regulatory purposes.

If the exception is "only when regulatory authorities demand it", then this means they do test on animals. Many countries (such as China) require new ingredients to be tested on animals.

L’Oréal does try to clear this up, but only provides another smokescreen response confirming they still test on animals.

What do you mean by “An exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes”?

The exception is very rare and stems from the variety of regulations worldwide. Certain authorities have not yet accepted alternative methods in their country and could hypothetically require us to conduct safety evaluations on animals. Also, in response to questions raised by the scientific community and by civil society, local authorities could choose to reexamine the safety data of a known family of ingredients, and could require new safety data.

In addition L’Oréal claims they don't label their products 'cruelty free' due to the term being “ambiguous”. The reason is most likely due to the fact it won’t standard up to  Advertising Standards Authorities. 

L'Oreal has in the past also unsuccessfully tried to block animal testing changes which are in favour of the animals. For example on 2002, after 13 years of discussion, the European Union agreed to phase in a near-total ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics by 2009, and to ban all cosmetics-related animal testing. L'Oreal protested the proposed ban by lodging a case at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, asking that the ban be quashed.

What alternatives are there to animal testing?

There are many alternatives to the use of animals in research. The most common type of alternative methods involves in-vitro tests, skin and cell cultures, epidemiology, computer software, databases of tests already done to avoid duplication and human clinical trial tests. Donated blood can be successfully used for pyrogenicity studies and micro dosing, which involves volunteers receiving very small doses of a drug to assess its basic behaviour. 

More reading: Alternatives to Animal Testing 

Why does Beauty without Cruelty endorse non-vegan products? 

Although BWC advocates for a vegan diet and lifestyle, the BWC Humane Guide focusses specifically on eliminating animal testing and not necessarily vegan only ingredients. We have clearly marked with products are suitable for vegans in the guide. A separate guide is also available in PDF format listing vegan only products. 

Are BWC endorsed products cruelty free? 

No. We prefer not to use the term cruelty free as almost all ingredients, even things like water and salt, have been tested on animals at some stage, therefore there is no such thing - we prefer to use the term Humanely Manufactured.

More Information

Why is Beauty without Cruelty called Beauty without Cruelty if the products endorsed are not 100% cruelty free?


BWC SA has been investigating humane claims for 40 years and is a recognised authority in this field. Over this period, animal advocacy methods and language has evolved. While the name may not be technically correct, the BWC name has 40 years of time, money, expertise and publicity behind it, as well as the good reputation built up with the public and companies alike; it would not be prudent to waste all that by choosing a new name that no one recognizes or knows.