Stop cosmetic testing on animals

Josette Corazza

In a huge victory for animals, the European Union, Israel, and India have banned the sale of cosmetics or cosmetics ingredients that have been tested on animals. Unfortunately, however, there is no ban on testing cosmetics or household products on animals in the United States, so companies that make and sell their products here can choose freely to conduct testing on animals. Animal experiments for cosmetics and household products continue even though non-animal tests are widely available. 3-D tissue structures produced from human cells could be used in place of animals, and yet they still aren’t. This terrible trend in the cosmetics industry needs to stop.

There are various references to animal testing prior to the nineteenth century, but cosmetic testing only began in the first quarter of the twentieth century. This practice is cruel and unnecessary, as animal testing is not mandatory to develop or sell products in the United States. Although they are not required by law, several tests are commonly performed that expose mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs to cosmetic ingredients. These can include skin and eye irritation tests in which chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of restrained rabbits without any pain relief, repeated force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards, and widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow large amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death.

At the end of a test these animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking, or decapitation. Pain relief is not provided. According to the Humane Society, in the United States, a large percentage of the animals used in such testing are not counted in official statistics and do not receive protection under the Animal Welfare Act. Large cosmetics companies such as Revlon and Avon have created revolutionary change by halting animal testing, but many of the most popular cosmetics brands still continue to use these brutal methods. Widely popular companies like Johnson & Johnson, Dove, ChapStick, Old Spice, Clorox, and Maybelline test on animals.

There are many alternatives to cosmetic testing on animals. There are already many products on the market that are made using thousands of ingredients that have a long history of safe use. Companies can ensure safety by choosing to make products using those ingredients, or by using existing non-animal tests or investing in and developing alternative non-animal tests for new ingredients. According to the Humane Society, there are nearly 50 non-animal tests that have been validated for use. These modern alternatives can offer results that are more efficient and cost-effective, not to mention more humane.

To combat cosmetic testing on animals, people can refuse to buy products from companies that use animals. Look for the leaping bunny logo, a mark of cruelty-free companies, on products to ensure that you are aiding companies making the right choices. The good news is that today, a multitude of cruelty-free cosmetics and household products are not tested on animals. PETA has a database of these companies available online. If possible, buy products from these companies instead of those that test on animals. Lending support to companies that recognize the risks and brutality of animal testing is a step in the right direction of one day ending testing once and for all.