Let’s Be Cruelty-Free!
Eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner, lotion, and perfume; most people use these items on a daily basis, but don’t take the time to think about who or what was harmed in the making of their favorite products. Perhaps we should. The public should become more familiar with brands that are forcing harm upon defenseless animals. There are a series of tests performed before a company releases a new product, and for decades they have been practiced solely on animals. There are better ways to test new ingredients that can prevent the torture and death of animals. In the ongoing advancements of today’s technology, continuing cosmetic testing on innocent animals is becoming more and more inhumane, especially considering there are positive alternatives that will produce similar, if not better results.
The earliest records of cosmetic testing date back to the early 1940s, when there was an incident involving unsafe exposure to beauty products. Due to the outbreak, organizations began using small animals to test questionable ingredients in beauty products (“Cosmetics Testing on Animals”). Since then, a multitude of companies still take part in animal testing, even though there is no need for them thanks to today’s technology, and previous data that has been collected. Most, if not all, beauty corporations have access to data that alerts them as to whether or not an ingredient is recognized as safe. If this information is already on hand, why continue testing out substances on animals?
Arguments have been made that animal testing has provided information that has kept people safe from coming in contact with risky ingredients. “Animal testing by manufacturers seeking to market new products may be used to establish product safety,” (“Animal Testing and Cosmetics”). Another point made is that it is difficult to test ingredients without the animal research, “With this method, people are assured of never being exposed to any harmful toxins or chemicals, leading to a drop in health risks for consumers,” (“12 Pro and Cons of Animal Testing on Cosmetics”). It is true that with animal testing less humans have experienced negative reactions to beauty products; however, companies are able to produce similar results using alternative methods. Cosmetic testing on animals has already been banned in more than forty countries, and that list is continuing to grow. Although there are brands in the beauty world that have already taken action on the issue, the United States does not have any specific laws banning the use of animals in cosmetic testing (“Product Testing – Animal Testing & Cosmetics”). Hopefully with enough advanced technology, we are able to completely eliminate this issue.
There are a series of tests that businesses conduct on animals in order to rule an ingredient as safe. Rabbits are typically used during these tests because they are tame and easy to work with. The most common test used to show ingredient irritation is the skin and eye irritation test. The name is pretty self explanatory, however, these irritation tests cause major harm to the rabbits. The rabbit’s back is partially shaved and a substance is applied to the bare skin. The area is then covered with padding for two to four hours. After the padding is removed, researchers watch the progression of the skin. They look for redness, inflammation, skin lesions, scabbing, and bleeding. When conducting the eye irritation portion, researchers drop chemicals and other ingredients into the rabbit’s eyes, which can cause discharge, redness, cloudiness, and total blindness. If any of these symptoms are present, the product is deemed not ready for human use. Another very common test is the Lethal Dose Test. During this test, an animal is forced to swallow vast amounts of chemicals used in cosmetics. The results gathered help to determine the initial dosage that causes death if ingested (“About Cosmetics Animal Testing”). To put it in perspective, grab a bottle of your favorite perfume. On the back of the bottle will most likely be the lethal dosage amount, warning users not to consume the substances. If the animals have not already died from the Lethal Dose Test, they are killed by researchers. It is very rare that the animals don’t die after being tested on.
Cosmetic testing that is performed on animals is cruel and inhumane in numerous ways. According to Cruelty Free International, nearly half a million animals are victims of cosmetic testing every year, adding up to over one thousand every day (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”). These victims include rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, and in rare cases, cats and dogs. These animals are used because they are considered to be obedient and easy to control (“Which animals are used in cosmetics tests?”). No matter how submissive an animal is, they will still suffer from burns, food and water deprivation, cuts, and other painful injuries. Often times when the experiments are over and all the data is collected, the animals will be killed. Methods of murder are typically carbon dioxide asphyxiation, neck breaking, decapitation, or overdose (“About Cosmetics Animal Testing”). Rabbits, occasionally pregnant, are forced to consume cosmetic ingredients for up to four weeks, or are shaved so that ingredients can be applied to their skin (“Rabbits in Laboratories”). Guinea pigs and hamsters experience the same torturous methods, and are also eventually killed. Rats and mice have ingredients placed into their ears to see if they have an allergic reaction, both are killed after experimenters get the data they need (“Which animals are used in cosmetics tests?”). Animals of all shapes and sizes are being tortured every day, isn’t it time to stop?
Animals make poor test subjects for cosmetic experimenting, so how do we actually know the ingredients put into our everyday products are actually safe to use? Animal testing began in order to protect humans from dangerous ingredients found in beauty products (“Cosmetics Testing on Animals”). Animals are not human beings, and therefore the results of these trials will vary in accordance with human reaction. There are many differences between animals and humans, including cellular, anatomic, and metabolic contrasts. Clinical Neuroimaging Professor Paul Furlong argues that “It’s very hard to create an animal model that even equates closely to what we’re trying to achieve in the human,” therefore contradicting the entire purpose of cosmetic testing on animals (“Animal Testing – ProCon.org”). People are not comparable a lab rats.
There are alternative testing methods that do not harm animals, and portray more accurate results. Many believe that by banning animal testing, researchers would use human patients, but that is not the case. One method involves mimicking bacteria, tissues, and cells from humans. Human tissues are donated post-surgery every day. They are then reconstructed in order to perform irritation tests. A majority of cosmetic companies have access to this form of technology. Kits have been made for companies to test their substances using this reliable process. Another alternative testing method is to use tissues from dead bodies (“Alternatives to animal testing”). Since the patient has already been declared dead, no harm can come by using this method. In order to make this ethically logical, the cadaver would have previously been an organ donor, and consented to the process. Human volunteer studies also exist. Do not worry, these humans are not put at risk. Scanning machines and old records can produce enough information to see whether or not a substance is safe to use. “An innovative technique called microdosing can also be used in volunteers to measure how very small doses of potential new drugs behave in the human body” (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”). These alternative tests are often times cheaper, both easier and quicker to perform, and overall more effective than animal testing.
Decades have gone by, and yet beauty companies are still using animals to conduct substance testing for their products. There is no need to continue using these horrific methods when technology is advancing every day. Alternatives have been discovered, and are accessible to companies all over to world, especially those in the United States. It is time for this country to become cruelty-free. When it comes to purchasing cosmetics, nobody wants to pick up an eyeshadow pallet and think of the poor rabbit who was tortured in the making of it. Nobody wants to picture their favorite animals suffering in pain and agony. Eliminating cosmetic testing on animals will not only benefit sales, but will save millions of animals’ lives as well.