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How many times has this happened to you? You see a new body product which looks and sounds based on the description that it’s truly natural and therefore, vegan-friendly, so you buy it? What if that product even had a no-animal-cruelty logo stamped onto it? Wouldn’t you definitely buy it? That’s what happened to me. I was at my local Trader Joe’s and right next to the check out there was a bin full of body butter, which appealed to me considering it’s winter and my skin is so dry. So I grabbed it, scanned the front and then the back. The ingredients list sure was long, but I saw the “Cruelty Free” logo and thought, “Okay, most of that stuff is probably plant stuff, and it has the logo, so I’m gonna give it a shot.” And I bought it.

coconut body butter

When I got home and was unpacking groceries, my husband, in typical dude fashion held up the tub of body butter and dangled it asking, “What’s this?” Was it a food product or something “girly”? I told him it was body butter…duh! He started looking at it a little more carefully and said aloud to me, “Wow, babe. There’s a lot of stuff in this…” That got me thinking. Maybe I had been too hasty in my purchase. Then I remembered! I had downloaded an app onto my new smartphone that allows the user to input any ingredient and the app will tell you if the ingredient is animal-derived or not. The app is called “Animal Free.” It’s available both for Android and Apple smartphones. I quickly began inputting ingredients into the app.

body butter ingredients

body butter ingredients close up

I’ve included both pictures so you can see the ingredients list and the “Cruelty Free” logo. Let’s go through just a few of the ingredients, shall we?

  1. stearyl alcohol: according to the app, “A mixture of solid alcohols. Can be prepared from sperm whale oil.”
  2. glycerin: “a byproduct of soap manufacture (normally uses animal fat).” Unfortunately, the body butter does not specify if the glycerin is animal or plant-derived
  3. polysorbates: “derivatives of fatty acids.”
  4. cetyl alcohol: “wax found in spermaceti from sperm whales.”

Now, I will say this: even though the Animal Free app will tell you if the ingredient in question has a vegetable or vegan alternative, the product you have in your hands does not necessarily make that distinction, as was my experience. Does this mean that the body butter I purchased could have ingredients in them that are actually plant-derived and not animal-derived? Possibly. But because the ingredients label does not make the distinction, I don’t think I want to chance it. The product is unwrapped, unused and I will be taking it back with my receipt that I saved. Also, for the record, I don’t think Trader Joe’s is “bad” or practices animal cruelty and false advertising. My only wish is that there were a little more transparency for products such as these.

If you don’t want to find yourself playing the guessing game as I have just relayed to you, download the app, remember you have it (as I obviously didn’t!), and use it at the store to make informed and compassionate purchases.

Are you going to download the app? What other apps are out there that you would recommend? Be sure to let me know and share your advice with others!