I spent my younger years working hard in the City as a Stockbroker. The job didn’t fulfil me, and I remember thinking to myself that although I was lucky enough to have a good job, there must be more to life.
From age 17, my ambition was to become a makeup artist, but I didn’t know how to make it a reality. I have always had a creative eye and was extremely passionate and fascinated by make up in fashion and film, experimenting with my own make up from a young age. However, the fear of trying to become a make up artist and possibly failing stopped me from even trying.
The tipping point came in my late 20’s. I remember waking up one day and realising that the fear of never trying was much worse than failing.
From then on, I had laser point focus. After finishing my day in the City, I would then spend my evenings volunteering in the make up and wig department at The Barbican working behind the scenes on various Royal Shakespeare Company productions.
My holidays would be spent as a trainee on a film set, which was so exciting to me, and I went back to college to retrain. After a few years, I started working as a personal make up artist to celebrities, and I’m so lucky to have travelled the world with my job and met wonderful people.
My interest in natural and organic products has always been a passion. Then 4 years ago, whilst on a natural cosmetics course, I discovered that animal testing was still very much a part of the beauty industry, but no-one knew about it due to clever brand marketing departments keeping it a secret.
I was so shocked that I knew I had to do something. I was shocked that it still existed, and I was shocked that no-one really knew about it. As a make up artist, if I could become cruelty free and still do the same quality work on editorial shoots and red carpet, then anyone could be cruelty free. It’s a matter of awareness and choice.
I support cruelty free brands as I believe animal testing is an extremely cruel and outdated method of testing.
At first it was tricky as I had to replace many of the products that I’d relied on for 15 years. I had to do a lot of research, but the amazing outcome is that I’ve discovered incredible products and brands that maybe I never would’ve done before.
Yes it can be frustrating when big brands bring out new exciting products and formulations that I won’t use, but I just remind myself of the images and videos that I’ve seen highlighting the extreme cruelty to animals that these brands condone, and once you’ve seen them, there’s no going back.
I only support make up brands that do not sell in mainland China
It makes me even more determined to raise awareness and pioneer cruelty free beauty. I love my industry but I find it abhorrent that such pain is inflicted for the sake of a new mascara or shampoo.
Being invited to be the Beauty Ambassador for Humane Society Internationals Be Cruelty Free campaign was a great honour. It came with a risk though, becoming a spokesperson for an ugly truth that my industry wanted to ‘shove under the carpet’.
However, I’m proud to say that the words ‘cruelty free’ are now openly discussed, and I’d like to think that I’ve been part of opening up that discussion and raising awareness. I love being part of such an important change in my industry.
When mainland China opened its doors to Western cosmetic companies, they flooded in to maximise on the profits to be made. The catch? Government law dictates that any imported product sold to a Chinese consumer has to be tested on animals!
There are also post market testing agencies that pick products off shelves and test. Brands that had been cruelty free for years, turned on their morals in a New York second and tried to cover up the fact with clever use of brand language. Never rely on information on a brand website, as there is no law stopping a brand from stating they do not test when in fact they do. Instead, look on websites like LeapingBunny, Peta and Logical Harmony, or research brands yourself.
Since 2013 it is against European Law to sell a product in Europe that has been tested on animals. This is a wonderful change in the law, however at present, Brussels has no fool proof way of policing it. This law only applies to Europe, so if that same brand sells in mainland China, then it is agreeing to and paying for animal testing to be conducted on its products.
This is why I only support brands that do not sell in mainland China.
Typically, animal tests for cosmetics include skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits; repeated oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards, such as cancer or birth defects; and even widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death.
These tests can cause considerable pain and distress including blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding and organ damage, birth defects, convulsions and death. Pain relief is not provided and at the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.
The most frustrating part is that with the invention of laboratory grown human skin that produces more accurate test results, none of this is necessary. Please support cruelty free brands, so that the global beauty industry know there is a demand
I’m vegetarian. I do however, incorporate as many vegan brands as possible into my kit so I can advise on what products to purchase. Vegan brands I love include:- skincare brands Bakel, Skyn Iceland and Green People, make up brands Inika, Eco Tools, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Modish Polish, Spa Ritual, Hurraw and Lime Crime.
Since becoming a Cruelty-free Ambassador, working alongside charities such as Humane Society International and PeTa, I feel that progress is happening in the beauty industry. Over the last year, I have been addressed more frequently by magazines, asking me to write about how to become a conscious consumer, and how to rid make-up bags of unethical products.
I have definitely noticed that the beauty industry is turning a real corner with more and more brands saying no to animal testing. Huge interest is now in vegan and organic makeup products which contain no animals ingredients or harmful parabens so perfect for sensitive skins. It’s great to see that the awareness is growing, especially with the power of social media, which has played a vital role in sending the message across.
Even if one person buys one cruelty free product instead of one from a brand that is tested on animals, then that is a win in my book.
Justine Jenkins is a Celebrity Make-Up Artist and Cruelty-Free Cosmetic Ambassador http://justinejenkins.com/