Cosmetics are a billion dollar industry which releases hundreds of consumer products per year. Of course these products need to be tested for quality and safety before humans can use them. Sadly many companies choose to test their products on innocent animals that are tortured and killed unnecessarily. We explore this unethical and unjust practice to uncover truths for the consumer to consider before their next purchase.
Most people love to buy new cosmetics to look and feel good. However do you ever look behind the label and think how that product got made? Were animals tested? We will explore the toxic link between animal cruelty and the cosmetic industry.
The Humane Society International estimates approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer and die just for cosmetics every year around the world (1), though the amount of animals that are tortured but not actually killed is expected to be in the millions. This is a significant and disturbing figure and disproportionately effects rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice. Cats, dogs and primates are less effected but still cruelly tested on. Tests performed on the animals include skin and eye irritation tests, where chemicals are directly applied onto shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of animals and lethal dose tests in which animals are coerced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that can cause death. These tests cause significant pain and damage to the effected animals and they are often killed at the conclusion of a test (1).
One would think from such alarming rates of animal cruelty there must be numerous benefits from testing cosmetics on animals. Why else would companies put animals through such horrific regimes? Actually, the opposite has been proven to be true with the majority of scientists asserting that animal testing shows an ineffective or unproven correlation at ensuring products are safe for human use. It is assumed that animals will respond to tests like humans do, when in fact their mechanics and biochemistry is entirely different, species to species – so it is a pointless exercise (2). Dr. Gerhard Zbinden, one of the world’s leading toxicologists, once described a standard in vivo test (which is a toxicity testing to see how fatal a product is for human use) as little more than “a ritual mass execution of animals.” (3).
The disparity over animal cruelty testing worldwide shows some countries are much more active in banning animal testing and being ethically responsible, i.e. Europe (Western Europe, Scandinavia and parts of Eastern Europe), Israel and India. In these locations the sale or import of new animal-tested beauty products is also banned and therefore these locations demonstrate excellent ethical practice and set a leading example. Also some countries classify products such as toothpaste, sunscreen and hair dyes as ‘medicated’, which then require mandatory animal testing. Unfortunately this leaves 80% of the world unregulated, and countries such as China have horrific rates of animal testings of up to 300, 000 per year (4). One of the largest cosmetic testing markets, in the United States, uses animals for cosmetic testing is although not required by the Food and Drug Administration though its practice is accepted (5).
‘Dr. Gerhard Zbinden, one of the world’s leading toxicologists, once described a standard in vivo test (which is a toxicity testing to see how fatal a product is for human use) as little more than “a ritual mass execution of animals.” ’
What is the alternative to animal testing then? Surely there is a better, more ethical way of doing things? There are proven non-animal testing methods by government regulators of cosmetics, which also have been shown to be scientifically superior and can be tested faster and cheaper (6). More than 500 beauty companies around the world are recognized as cruelty free as they don’t conduct or commission new animal testing, and only use new ingredients when human safety can be established without animal testing. There are also more than 5,000 established and proven ingredients that can be used with no animal testing required (4). Consumers can also play their part by shopping ethically and not supporting companies that are cruel to animals.
See http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/cometic-brands-that-are-not-cruelty-free/ for more information and support ending this cruel trade for the welfare of our precious animals.
By Simon Chitre