Animal testing in cosmetics is cruel, unnecessary and outdated. Yet, when choosing to develop or use new, untested ingredients in their cosmetic products, some companies still conduct tests on animals to assess the safety of these new ingredients.
As the Humane Society of the United States reports, invasive tests performed on rabbits, mice, guinea pigs and rats often include:
- Skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of restrained rabbits, without any pain relief.
- Tests that deliver doses of chemical substances to mice through repeated force-feeding. These tests last weeks or months so researchers can look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards such as cancer or birth defects.
- Widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which rats are forced to swallow large amounts of chemicals to determine the dose that causes death.
“At the end of some tests, the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation,” HSUS reports.
In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, regulated by the FDA, prohibits the sale of mislabeled and “adulterated” cosmetics, but does not require that animal tests be conducted to demonstrate that the cosmetics are safe.
As such, more than 115 million animals in the U.S. are exposed to a series of painful tests each year, often resulting in death, Humane Decisions reports. Yet, the total number of animals killed or injured in testing may never be known, as laboratory-bred rats and mice receive no protection under the Animal Welfare Act.
When selling these products in foreign markets, companies must choose to concede to local laws and regulations or stand by basic principles of animal welfare. When antiquated regulations demand animal testing, companies often capitulate rather than lose access to that market and, consequently, those profits.
This practice of animal testing is both cruel and unnecessary. Alternatives to animal testing already exist, and humane, safe cosmetics can be created using thousands of existing ingredients. Furthermore, several non-animal methods are already available to test new ingredients. These advanced scientific technologies are often cheaper, faster and more relevant to humans making them more reliable predictors of safety than archaic animal tests.
“Animal testing is completely unnecessary,” Suzanne LeRoux, founder of One Love Organics told Forbes. “Like individual food allergies, we can all have different reactions to topicals as well. And a product that has been tested on an animal is not going to have the same result on a person. The practice is outdated and does not guarantee safety. We prefer to use ingredients and products tested on human volunteers, so animal lives and quality of lives can be spared and the products will have a more accurate safety result when used by people. It’s a win-win for humans and animals to stop animal testing. Choosing to buy only cruelty-free products can make a huge impact. Voting with your dollar is ultimately what causes larger companies to institute change.”
“People have been testing cosmetics products on animals since the Second World War”, writes Kerry Postlewhite, Director of Public Affairs at Cruelty Free International,. “Since then, science has moved on and public opinion has changed. Yet testing continues. Meanwhile, consumers are shocked to hear that animal testing still happens in cosmetics, claiming the lives of around half a million animals a year. ”
A 2015 Nielsen survey found the ‘not tested on animals’ claim on packaging actually matters more to consumers than any other. Add your voice to those speaking out against animal cruelty. Click below to make a difference.