Slices of Life: Cruel to be kind

I think my big take-away is that not all products are cruelty-free. Call me innocent, but I thought we were way beyond that. Sigh.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

Last weekend I dove headfirst down a deep rabbit hole. And, as those of us with rabbit hole experience can attest, once you hop in there is no going back.

I met my friend, Alice, today. She is 98 years young and I’m so glad to know her.

It started innocently enough, as most rabbit hole ventures do. I recently got a haircut and have decided to embrace my naturally wavy/curly, albeit fine, hair. I have a lot of hair, but its baby-fine texture sometimes makes volume an issue. Curls require volume, so I hit the Google with “Best shampoo for curly fine hair,” which resulted in numerous websites with lists of the best products for my particular needs.

I clicked on one list and the journey began. I was confronted with various brand names, some I recognized, some I did not. The lists listed numerous facts for each shampoo including scent, ingredient list, price, where to purchase and whether the shampoo was cruelty-free.

Say what? Call me naive (because I am) but I thought the whole animal testing thing was outlawed sometime during the days of 8-track tapes.

Turns out I was wrong.


Some of the brand names I recognized very well were not considered cruelty free. Yep. They test their products on animals “when required to do so” and can’t promise that those tests aren’t cruel.

You see how this rabbit hole sucked me in? I am a lot of things, but I hope to think that cruel is not one of them. I’d much rather be seen as kind. I think most of us can relate.

I knew I had to find out more so I revisited my go-to search engine.

From my perspective, there’s only one thing that could make it more perfect: If Wordle itself was a five-letter word. But that would be asking a lot — or better put in Wordle terms – heaps, loads and scads.

Turns out, one particular country (hint: it starts with “Ch”) still requires animal testing on certain products in order for those products to be sold on their soil. Some companies choose not to sell their products in this country; others overlook this little detail in the name of profit, and not only allow animal testing but even pay for it as well.

My mouth was wide open at this point.

I want my high-needs hair to look good, but not at the expense of an innocent bunny rabbit or any of its offspring. I’m also not questioning a company’s need to make a profit. I get it. But at what cost? That’s a personal question for all of us; I may have my answer, you may have yours — and that’s OK.

As my search continued. I learned that another key word when looking for cruelty-free is “vegan.” I like meat as much as anyone, but not in my shampoo or beauty products.

I think my big take-away is that not all products are cruelty-free. Call me innocent, but I thought we were way beyond that. Sigh.


I spent the day reading reviews and ended up ordering a couple of shampoos and conditioners (as well as a curl-activating product) that are all vegan, cruelty-free and (even better) they didn’t break the bank.

My life is again filled with hope, not only for the bunnies of the globe, but my hair as well.

Here’s hoping that any rabbit holes in my future only serve to help bunnies, not hurt them — and that my new products are as kind to my hair as they are to the planet.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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