Cosmetics And Animal Testing: What You Need To Know

It's easy to make light of cosmetic testing on animals if you don't understand the real cruelty behind it. Memes like this, while comical, are an over-simplification of wide-spread suffering.


The truth is that common cosmetic testing practices include:

  • Dripping chemicals into the eyes or rubbing them into the shaved skin of animals to test for eye and skin irritations.
  • Forced-feeding of chemicals to animals in order to discover related illnesses, whether it be general sickness, cancer or birth defects.
  • Lethal dose tests where animals are used to determine how much of a chemical has to be ingested to cause death.
  • And while many tend to envision lab rats in these scenarios, many times bunnies and beagles are the real-world ideal test subjects because of their trusting and docile nature.

    Once the testing is over, the animals are destroyed. According to the Humane Society, "normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation."

    It's important to note that the FDA does not require animal testing on cosmetics. As a matter of fact, due to of a lack of safety regulation, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act doesn't require FDA pre-market approval of cosmetics at all. Instead, "It remains the responsibility of the manufacturer to substantiate the safety of both ingredients and finished cosmetic products prior to marketing," according to the FDA's website.


    Yet there are viable alternatives to animal testing.

    The Humane Society claims, "There are nearly 50 non-animal tests that have been validated for use, with many more in development." These include computer and mathematical models that simulate chemical interactions and in vitro tests where skin and cell cultures are used in place of live animals. Cosmetic companies can also create new products using chemicals that have already been proven to be safe.

    What Trade Has To Do With It

    Even companies that call themselves cruelty-free in the United States are testing on animals if they sell their products in China where animal testing is required by law on imported cosmetics.

    Cosmetic brands including Benefit, Bliss, Caudalie, Clarins, Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder and Gucci all export and offer their products in China, according to PETA.

    The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are working to introduce the Humane Cosmetics Act which would prohibit animal testing in the United States and would ban the import of foreign products and ingredients to America that have been tested on animals elsewhere in the world.

    The EU [European Union], Norway, Israel, India, Turkey, New Zealand and South Korea are leading the way with bans already in place, while Canada, Brazil, Australia, Taiwan and other countries are queuing up with similar legislation of their own as part of the global #BeCrueltyFree effort led by Humane Society International. -The Huffington Post

    So what can you do to make sure your cosmetics, personal-care products and household chemicals are cruelty-free, both at home and abroad?

    According to Leaping Bunny, which formed when eight animal protection agencies banded together to create a consumer standard through their Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, you shouldn't always trust the labels on product packaging. 'Cruelty free', 'Not tested on animals' and even the appearance of the trusted bunny logo don't ensure these products weren't tested on animals at the ingredient level or that the brand didn't contract another company to do the testing.

    How To Shop With Confidence

    Instead, choose brands to support and buy from using the researched shopping guides published by Leaping Bunny, PETA and Cruelty Free Kitty. FYI: Leaping Bunny also has an app.

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