The Cruelty-Cutter App Review

This is another late post and I apologise for that. Sure, I was a little bit busy, but that was not the main reason why I couldn't update a new post over the past week. The reason was because Sean took a few days off of work as part of his special leave and he's been using his MacBook most of the time, the laptop on which I do my blog work and photo-editing on. I decided to wake up earlier today to get the chance to use the laptop to finally upload this post, but I didn't get up until after 10:30am because I kept waking up very often. I'm still taking this opportunity to try and get some work done anyways.

Recently I discovered an app that I found on Twitter, and I was intrigued. Seriously, I was intrigued, because I never thought I'd see the day where there would be an app that let you scan the barcode on a product and that was all the work you had to do to find out if something was cruelty-free.

I spent quite some time playing with the app, and even whipped my phone out while shopping so I could test the parameters and see what worked, what didn't and what needed improvement. I went to Kmart to test pretty much all of the brands in store, and I got a really good grasp on how much the app covers, and what areas they needed to work on. Shall we begin with this review?

The app is relatively simple to use, and it doesn't take long to figure out how to use it, let alone master the app like a pro. You just have to download it, create an account, and just start scanning every single barcode that you find. The app saves the results to your history, and you can look back on them easily to see what you've scanned. I find that there's a range of results that one can expect;
  1. "This product is NOT Cruelty-Free!" - and they give you the option to boycott them, bite back, or find a cruelty-free alternative. Surprisingly, Bastiste falls under this category even though I previously thought that they were CF.
  2. "This product is Cruelty-Free!" A LOT of brands are in this category, which makes me happy.
  3. "Alert! Product not found." This happens a lot, to be honest, and I'll expand on that in a moment.
  4. "The cruelty-free status of this product is unknown." 
I find that for the non-cruelty-free alert to come up, it doesn't just cover the obvious brands like Covergirl, L'Oreal, Nivea and Colgate, it seems like they also cover certain brands that are owned by parent companies but have the promise that they are "against animal testing"; such as Batiste and Simple Skincare. However, when I tested them on PETA-approved Too Faced, NYX, The Body Shop, Urban Decay, and Tarte, they passed the test. It seems like the brand has to be certified by PETA or a similar body to pass the app, whereas Simple Skincare only has a statement on their website and packaging that they do not support animal testing. BareMinerals (Bare Escentuals) did not get the tick from this app as they aren't certified by PETA. The brand is owned by Shiseido, though, but it is not sold in China.

On the other hand, cruelty-free brands that are not owned by any parent companies but bear the PETA Cruelty-Free logo (or are certified by the organisation), such as e.l.f. Cosmetics, Wet n Wild, Hurraw! Balm, Natio, YesTo, Thursday Plantation and Milani Cosmetics, all get the tick from the app.

However, they do cover other brands not certified by PETA such as Boots, theBalm, and Sukin. Boots isn't certified by anything, as far as I can tell, but somehow their products get the tick. Australian brands Sukin, Nature's Organics and Natio are certified by CCF (an Australian organisation), and they have gotten the tick, but not Australis, another CCF-certified Australian brand, which is listed as having an unknown status.

The app's parameters are not as clear-cut (yes, that pun was definitely intended!) as I initially thought. I've just discovered that Chi Chi Cosmetics and Lime Crime are certified by PETA, but they're unrecognised by the app. I think that the app developers/moderators contact/research as many brands as possible to gather information and channel their attentions on certain brands when there are requests for their cruelty-free status

Other brands that could not be recognised by the app were products licensed by Kmart stores (and possibly other department stores), Makeup Revolution (status is unknown), Sugarbaby (brand unknown), and Face of Australia (status is unknown).

What I found incredibly interesting was that the app recognises Thursday Plantation as being cruelty-free, whereas PETA has slapped a warning on the brand, listing them as an animal-testing brand. Thursday Plantation isn't certified by CCF either.

So what do I think about the app? I think it shows a lot of promise, and I can see myself using it a lot, but there are a few kinks that they really need to work out. They, of course, should be expanding on their database of brands around the world, but I'm sure that in time that will be resolved as they work on adding more brands. Secondly, and most importantly, in my opinion, that is, the app really should figure out a way to separate independent cruelty-free brands from brands that are owned by parent companies.

This is to make it easier for people like me who have a 100% cruelty-free stance on brands, as in no parent companies and no products to be sold in China. Finding that Urban Decay, Too Faced, Tarte, etc got the tick from the app can be a bit misleading when they're all owned by parent companies that test on animals/sell products within China. If they could include a note for those products to separate the two groups, such as "Owned by L'Oreal/Estée Lauder/Shiseido/Unilever etc". Details like these would really go a long way in how popular the app becomes among the cruelty-free community.

Have you tried this app out before? What did you think?


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