Leaping Bunny

It’s a new year this week for dozens of countries in Asia, and, according to the animal-based zodiac used in that part of the world, it’s the year of the rabbit. If you are a rabbit (or cat in Vietnam), you are supposed to be “… articulate, talented, and ambitious… virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and, being conscientious, never back out of a contract.” (Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco)

The rabbit is also the symbol of The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. This coalition of eight animal-protection groups came together in 1996 in response to growing consumer demand for verifiable standards on animal-testing of cosmetic products. Until that time, companies could simply say “sure, we’re cruelty-free and don’t test on animals,” but there was no way of measuring these claims.

The standard used by CCIC is stricter than that in use by the cosmetic/personal care companies themselves. Most say that they don’t test on animals, and that is true. However, CCIC requires that animal-testing be cleared from every stage of production, including the ingredients used to make a product. This is why the brands of the big makeup conglomerates like L’Oréal, Lauder Corporation and Proctor & Gamble (Cover Girl and Olay) are not bunny-certified. For a company to be certified by the CCIC, they must submit to independent audits of their processes and renew their commitment to them annually. Companies do not have to pay to be certified; they submit an application and an audit is carried out by the CCIC to ensure their compliance with the standards. However, if they wish to use CCIC's leaping bunny logo on their products, they pay a fee to license the logo.

Products certified by CCIC are not necessarily vegan. Their focus is on certifying animal-testing claims. Since ingredient lists are a legal requirement for most companies producing personal care goods, it’s easy for consumers to find that information and decide themselves whether or not a product meets their personal standards. Sephora online, for example, lists ingredients for every product on the site, as does CurlMart.

The leaping bunny logo is recognized in Canada, the United States and most European-Union countries. However, the great majority of the companies that are certified are smaller cosmetic manufacturers. The only major brand name makeup and personal care product companies certified are Aubrey Organics, Burt’s Bees, Dermalogica, Hard Candy, Kiss My Face, L’Occitane, Paul Mitchell, The Body Shop and Urban Decay.

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics' website has a comprehensive list of personal- and household-care product companies available. There are also pet-care companies listed! You can download a shopping guide or order a pocket-sized one to take with you. And there are links to websites of CCIC-certified companies to help you locate these products where you live.

If this is an issue close to your heart, look for the sign of the Bunny!