The Leaping Bunny Standard

If you’ve seen the seminal film Legally Blonde: Red White and Blonde (2003), you already know about the horrors of animal testing in the cosmetics industry. In case you missed it, the plot is thus: Elle Woods is preparing for her upcoming wedding to Emmett, and wants nothing more than to add the mother of her beloved chihuahua Bruiser to the guest list. The problem is, Bruiser's poor mom is owned by a cosmetics company, and has spent her whole life inside a lab. Elle decides that this will not stand, and heads to Capitol Hill to lobby the release of not just Bruiser’s mom, but to change the law to ban all animal testing in cosmetics. If anybody can do it, it’s Elle Woods!

Sadly, life is not an excellent movie. Off of the silver screen, many of the cosmetic brands you recognize, even some in your own house, continue to test their products on animals. This is of course cruel and unnecessary. Good, decent people don’t want to see animals suffering for their own personal beauty benefits, and so many cosmetic brands are trying to move away from animal testing. Any brand can claim not to be tested on animals, or to be cruelty-free, but the Leaping Bunny Certification is considered to be the gold standard of animal protection guidelines.

By the 1990’s, people were starting to become aware just how much animal testing took place in the production of their cosmetics. More and more people were searching for “cruelty-free” items. The problem was, such a term could be misleading. A finished product may not have been tested on animals, while every ingredient along the way had been. This made shopping for cruelty-free cosmetics confusing, sometimes misleading, and ultimately frustrating. Companies began designing their own bunny logos, choosing to define 'cruelty-free' or 'animal friendly' on their own, without the participation of animal protection groups. It was in 1996 that eight national animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC).

The CCIC promotes a single comprehensive standard and an internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo. The CCIC works with companies to help make shopping for animal-friendly products easier and more trustworthy.
The Leaping Bunny Program is not just a list, but a Standard—the only Standard that guarantees a product to be free of new animal testing. While many ingredients have been tested on animals in the past, the Standard is designed to prevent future animal testing and eventually drive animal testing out of the industry completely.

Not just any old company can be Leaping Bunny certified though. The standards are rigorous, and each product must comply with a laundry list of guidelines. In order to pass muster, each single ingredient must be proven to have never tested on animals. In fact, not only must the ingredients be tested, it must also be provable that at no point in your supply chain are any products tested on animals. Your certification also relies on your third-party manufacturers and suppliers to be Leaping Bunny compliant as well. A “Declaration of Product Compliance” as well as a “Declaration of Raw Material Compliance” must be submitted once a year in order to maintain a brand’s Leaping Bunny certification.

You may have seen alternatives to the Leaping Bunny logo in the past. Many companies use a rabbit in their “cruelty-free” logo, as historically they were very common test subjects in the cosmetics industry. Not every bunny logo has a regulatory body behind it though. There are 3 big logos in the industry that actually mean something:

The Leaping Bunny logo of course, is the one we’re talking about today. It has the most rigorous testing standards, and is the only program that not only ensures a product is compliant, but also repeatedly conducts audits of the brands in its list to ensure they continue to keep their cruelty-free promise. They’re also the only body to certify internationally, recognized in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and much of the European Union. 

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have their own widely-recognized certification, though they are based strictly in the United States. There are two common versions of the PETA cruelty-free logo, with the top logo introduced in 2019. A PETA certification is the only certification that need only be bought one time, rather than an annual renewal. PETA also does not require proof that no animal testing takes place anywhere in a brands’s supply chain, but merely on the product itself. 

The third standard is Choose Cruelty Free, an Australian-based group. The CCF is the only group that will refuse to grant certification to a brand that is cruelty-free but is owned by a larger company that allows animal testing. 

Of course, this isn’t meant to be a sweeping generalization that any brand without one of these certifications must test on animals. Many brands come up with their own creative logos that promise cruelty-free products. The problem is, the governing bodies that test cosmetics do not require a brand to be entirely forthcoming with that info, and not every brand does the legwork of making sure its entire supply chain is cruelty-free. That’s why pledges like the Leaping Bunny Standard are important, so that you as a consumer, can choose a product that protects the welfare of animals at every step in the process.

Upfront Cosmetics is proud to be one of over 600 brands with a Leaping Bunny certification, that are committed to providing a wide range of cruelty-free cosmetics! Next time you order one of our shampoo or conditioner bars, look out for the Leaping Bunny!

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