Animal fur has been a serious faux pas for seasons – designers such as Gucci, Burberry and Versace are refusing to work with it, fashion editors like Anna Dello Russo won’t wear it, and even the Queen of England has renounced it. Entire countries are banning fur farming – Poland and France are the latest nations to add their names to the list, and both Israel and the UK are considering a ban on the trade itself, thus prohibiting the sale and import of it. In short, fur has seriously fallen out of favour with today’s consumers.
So why are we still wearing it on our faces?
Faux lashes, and salon treatments that offer them, are a beauty staple – all kinds of extensions, from glue-on to semi-permanent versions, are widely available. But few faux-lash lovers actually pause to think about what the falsies are made of. Many people who love the look of faux lashes have no idea that what they are wearing is actually mink fur. Most consumers assume that lashes are synthetic – or simply don’t think about it. After all, fur is the last thing you’d expect to find at the beauty counter.
The truth is that mink lashes are no different from a mink fur coat; they’re natural yes, but they’re still cruel. They come from fur farms – where 85% of all the fur in the world derives from. Animals living in those places are removed from everything that’s natural to them, and endure extreme confinement in barren wire cages. Minks are semi-aquatic animals, who need access to water to swim in, which a fur-farm environment of course lacks. Undercover investigations from mink farms, even in countries that the industry is quick to call “high-welfare”, have seen animals suffering from thirst, starvation, neglect, and open wounds that were left untreated. Mink and other animals on fur farms are often killed by the cheapest methods available, which include being gassed, poisoned, or bludgeoned to death.
Brands selling mink lashes sometimes claim that mink are “brushed” to obtain the hair that is used to make the lashes. There isn’t much evidence to support this – the lashes are more likely to come from fur farms – but even if this were true, there would still be cruelty involved. Mink don’t need to be brushed. These wild animals are naturally afraid of humans, and any handling would be stressful to them, which means that they would be likely to attack whoever is doing the brushing. In any case, it’s highly unlikely that mink lashes came from “brushing”, and much more likely that they were obtained from animals who were killed for their fur.
What makes mink eyelashes – by any definition a vanity item – even more of a questionable purchase is the fact that European mink are critically endangered. Since 2015, these animals have been on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s extinction red list – meaning that the species’ numbers are rapidly dwindling. The species currently occupies only 20% of its former range. In Spain, the number of mink is only around 500. Knowing this, the notion of abusing these animals for fur (whether it’s for clothing or beauty) becomes even more problematic.
Luckily, the beauty industry is just as quick as fashion to move away from fur. Since animal rights organisations started calling out beauty brands for selling fur – because essentially, wearing mink eyelashes means wearing fur on your face – labels such as Sephora, Tarte, Too Faced and Urban Decay have vowed to eliminate mink lashes from their ranges and commit to only using vegan-friendly false lashes.
One of the latest beauty labels to go fur-free is Velour, the brand of lashes worn by Meghan Markle on her wedding day. “When it comes to cruelty to animals, fur eyelashes are no different from a fur coat,” says Elisa Allen, Director of PETA UK. “PETA is celebrating Velour’s decision to join Sephora, Tarte, Too Faced, Urban Decay, and the other beauty giants that are proudly fur-free.”
And fur-free certainly is the future – whether we’re talking about our wardrobes or our makeup collection.
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Cover image via Hayley Kim Design.