Updated: Aug 2, 2021
We often hear the saying that beauty is pain - in this case, quite literally. Of course, we all like getting pretty, but do you know that some companies, even well-known ones, test their products on animals before selling them on the market?
Why Test on Animal in the First Place?
Usually, testing chemicals using animals in beauty products to check a list from the mandatory safety protocol that some countries offer as a condition to sell products in their regions. Not only beauty products, but this regulation is a must for products that relate closely to human usage. Regrettably, animal testing is standard practice to check chemical toxicology. This way, the government can assure that products are safe for human consumption before releasing them to the market. Arguably, these tests are mandatory to ensure protection from potentially applying dangerous chemicals to our body parts. Hence, multiple scientists and countries argue that animal testing is a necessary evil for the greater good.
The Problem with Animal Testing
Some procedures on animals to test the safety of beauty products are force-feeding them with chemicals or applying newly developed substances to their skins to observe corrosive side effects.
One of the tests is the Draize Eye Irritation test, which consists of putting chemicals into the eye of a conscious albino rabbit without any medicine to relieve their pain. According to International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals (IAAPEA), Draize Eye Irritancy Tests can last up to a week. The extensive test allows the researchers to see dangerous side effects that develop over time in their eyes, such as hemorrhaging or scabbing.
Despite the United Kingdom ban on animal testing for cosmetics since 1998, Cruelty-Free International found the United Kingdom subjects rabbits to 40 Draize Eye Irritation Tests in 2018.
Without a doubt, not only these albino rabbits will have to endure physical pain, but also the psychological one of being in constant fear and close-quarter confinement. What is worse, an Israeli news outlet found that of all experiment subjects in the lab, only 3% of animals survive. The low percentage is unfortunately unsurprising. Most animals that have served their purpose in the lab end up being killed for dissection to see additional side effects that might develop within their bodies.
Animal Testing Regulation around the Globe
Humane Society International notes a few countries that ban or limit cosmetic animal sales or testing. These countries are the entirety of the European Union, United Kingdom, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Australia, Switzerland, Colombia, Guatemala, Norway, Iceland, Israel, and India. The list continues with some states in Brazil and the United States implement similar regulations, which hopefully will be followed by the rest of their countries and beyond.
It is an excellent improvement for animal rights that large beauty products consumer bases are outlawing animal testing. However, we still have one problem: China.
For a long time, China requires testing beauty products on animals before being sold to Chinese consumers. Finally, however, animal rights activists made a massive remarkable breakthrough in May 2021.
China has declared that it is now open to imported, non-animal tested beauty products for general cosmetics like nail polish and makeup. China only asks that companies entering their merchandise to the Chinese market provide proof of safety assessment. Additionally, this regulation is not yet in effect for products designed for children or containing new cosmetic ingredients.
1. In vitro testing
Now we can check potential skin irritation in humans by using synthetic replicas of human cells. This method can replace rabbits that typically have to undergo the painful process of having their backs shaved and poured with the chemicals that can corrode their skin.
2. Computer (in Silico) Modeling
We can now use Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships (QSARs) that keep a database of various substances and their suitability with the human body. This computerized system works by comparing existing known hazardous material to the tested chemical.
3. Research with Human Volunteers
Through micro-dosing, human volunteers will take a small dose of chemicals. Then, using imaging techniques researcher will be able to see how the chemical reacts in our body. This way, laboratories do not need animal involvement in testing new chemical compounds.
How to Find Cruelty-Free Companies?
Introducing the Leaping Bunny Standard, a standard from a cruelty-free organization made of 8 animal protection groups preventing beauty industries from committing animal cruelty in any kind, including animal testing. Leaping Bunny checks companies for their cruelty-free production process in its entirety. Some of the lists include if a company tests on animals or whether companies commission other corporations under the table to test animals on their behalf. If a company passes the assessment, it can advertise itself as a cruelty-free company with Leaping Bunny's infamous logo. Successful certification will also let customers know that the company is not harming animals through lab testing in any part of their production process.
As customers, if you are interested in shopping from cruelty-free Leaping Bunny certified stores, you can visit the Leaping Bunny Where to Buy page.
You can also find the list of cruelty-free companies by visiting Cruelty-Free Kitty, a website full of resources to spread awareness against animal cruelty.