What are Cruelty-Free Substitutes for My Favorite Lotions?

Personal/Inspirational, Skin Care
We love Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, with colloidal oatmeal that hydrates as well as soothes. Unfortunately, it is also not cruelty-free.

Submitted via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page:

Dear Nicki,

I love the calming properties of oatmeal the Aveeno lotions and how amazingly soft it makes my skin. Are there any similar products that are cruelty free?


Dear Laura,

The Iceman bunnyYou are right:  According to PETA, Aveeno (Johnson & Johnson) is one of the many U.S.-based brands that still do test on animals.

While toxicity testing is a blessing for the American consumer, animals do not need to be involved.  Skin and cell culture, mathematical and scientific modeling, and other methods are commonly employed by cruelty-free brands to test the safety and efficacy of products. The proof it can be done is alive in Europe:  Starting in 2009, the E.U. initiated a complete sales ban on animal-tested products that will be effective in 2013.

On the other side of the equation, this increases costs to the consumer eventually, as laboratory rats are far less expensive than, say, human skin grafts or advanced skin computer modeling.  Yet many women I have talked to would rather pay more for products that were not tested on animals.

One source of debate: Many published scientific studies also sacrifice animals; some scientists consider it to be more or less necessary to do so in order to further scientific progress.  Is it moral to do so only to better understand and find cures for disorders like cancer, heart disease, and the like?  Or are the safety of cosmetics and skin care products included in this?  What do you think?

If you firmly don’t believe in animal testing, don’t worry – there are existing alternatives.  Here are some substitutes for tried-and-true favorites:

Instead of Aveeno Active Naturals Moisturizing Bar, try Yardley Oatmeal Almond Soap.  Aveeno leaves your skin admittedly a bit more soothed, as Johnson & Johnson’s colloidal oatmeal is just exquisite.  But the Yardley makes a fine substitute.

Instead of Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, try upgrading your retinol to a potent cruelty-free one like Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion ($38.85, Amazon.com) or my own ($39.95 on August 16 – sorry, I couldn’t resist!).  So there’s quite a price differential between the Neutrogena and the others here, and I apologize for that.  But the Neutrogena is pretty weak – I estimate less than 0.025% retinol with my best guess.  It does work, it just takes a long time to do so.

Truth be told, the only cruelty-free drugstore brand retinol for $15 or less at this time is Derma-E, and that is retinyl palmitate, which is 20 times weaker than retinol.  Boo!

Instead of Nair hair removal, try Jolen Creme Bleach.  An easy switch for hair removal that actually smells better anyway.

Unfortunately, at this time, I can’t find substitute cruelty-free products certain favorites like Olay Regenerist (with niacinamide and peptides) or Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 100.

One interesting fact:  Most ingredients that are in “cruelty-free” products were originally tested on animals by other companies at one time or another.  It’s nearly impossible to find a product or ingredient that hasn’t been deemed safe via animal testing at some point.  Still, we’re doing our part at FutureDerm, Inc. not to test on animals, and to encourage others to stop as well.


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  • Laura D.

    Thanks Nicki!

  • I knew you felt that way, but it’s always wonderful to read that! Looking forward to the release of your cruelty free retinol on August 16th!

  • If it helps, all the Paula’s Choice products are supposed to be cruelty-free. I can’t wait for yours to come out 🙂

  • I second the CeraVe suggestion! There’s really many options though, I’d recommend going to the Leaping Bunny website and downloading their list of cruelty-free companies – this is really the gold-standard in cruelty-free info! PETA’s “Companies that do not test” list is also a good resource and includes more brands. For cruelty-free retinol I recommend Paula’s Choice.

  • Sophie

    How About CeraVe AM? It has 30 SPF and Niacinamide, which really makes my skin smooth and moisturized. I don’t know about the other CeraVe products, but I like this one very much, and it is cruelty-free.

  • jeff

    i wonder, we hate that they test on mice…..but yet if we find one in our house..we kill it.

    • Alexis

      Who would kill it? I wouldnt.

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