03 Apr Testing Cosmetics on Animals
Cosmetics are intended to enhance or beautify the body, especially the face. Cosmetics in Australia include all make-up and skin and hair care products, as well as things like toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, perfume, and sunscreen. However, the very cosmetics responsible for what is generally an uplifting experience, come with a darker side that can take the shine off any glowing countenance.
PETA: “Companies test on animals to provide data that they can use to defend themselves when they are sued by injured consumers. Companies use the fact the products have been tested – rather than the actual test results – to support the claim that they are conscientious.”
The two main tests used on animals are the Draize Test and the Skin Irritation Test
The Draize Test
After applying the substance being studied to the animal’s eye or skin for hours, it is observed for a week or two to see if irritation occurs. At the end of the test, the animals are killed, brutally, mainly by cervical dislocation (breaking their necks).
Rabbits usually live in groups, seeking comfort from one another when stressed. During these cruel laboratory tests, they are isolated, lonely and afraid.
There’s an eye version of the Draize test where the poor terrified rabbits are locked in restraining stocks, sometimes for days at a time, with their eyes held open with clips. This is to stop them from blinking away the test solution.
Because rabbits lack tear ducts to cry away test solutions, they are the chosen subjects for these cruel experiments. Also, they’re fast breeders, and fairly cheap to maintain with just the bare minimum of care. One can only imagine how terrifying and painful these useless tests must be for these poor gentle animals.
Skin Irritation Test
A test substance is applied to a shaved section of the rabbits or guinea pigs body, then covered for about four hours, after which any remaining test substance is wiped away. After approximately 14 days the skin is assessed for damage. If the chemical used causes reversible skin lesions, eg. inflammation that may heal partially or fully by the end of the observed period, it is considered an irritant.
These terrified animals can suffer ulcers, bleeding, bloody scabs and inflamed skin. Their torturers are not required to administer pain relief during this hideous prolonged process.
Accuracy: Skin Allergy Test
Chemistry and Cell-based: predicts human reaction accurate to 90%
Guinea Pigs: predicts human reaction accurate to 72%
Accuracy: Draize Skin Irritation Test
Reconstituted human skin: predicts human reaction accurate to 86%
Rabbits: predicts human reaction accurate to 60%.
Animals that have been used to test cosmetics
Rabbits – some tests involve rabbits that are pregnant
Rats – some tests involve rats that are pregnant
Dogs – rarely used but have been. They are however used to test other chemicals
At the end of these tortures, the non-human animals are killed!
Humans have much to answer for!
Not tested on animals does not always mean cosmetics are cruelty-free or vegan as they may still contain products derived from animals.
Choosing Cruelty Free
Cruelty-free means “not tested on animals” (Rabbit logo)
If a product is classed as vegan and cruelty-free it means there are no animal ingredients or derivatives used and the product and its ingredients are not tested on animals. Symbol V means vegan and symbol SV means you need to check the labels, as some, not all, of the company’s products are suitable for vegans. These and more definitions are available on the Choose Cruelty-Free website, so you can ensure that the products you are purchasing are in-line with your values.
Some animal-derived ingredients in cosmetics:
ambergris, beeswax, carmine, casein, (also known as sodium caseinate) collagen, fish liver oil gelatin, glycerin, honey, keratin, lactic acid, lanolin, milk, placenta, rennet, shellac, taurine, squalene, guanine, oleo acid, carmine aka cochineal, stearic acid.
Some of these ingredients can also be plant-based, eg. glycerin or glycerol
labelled E422 in food, is a by-product of soap manufacturing and can be
either synthetic or derived from plants or animals.
Lactic acid can also be derived from plants such as beets. When it is derived from animals it is found in blood and muscle tissue.
Squalene is extracted from shark liver oil. Vegan squalene is derived from almond oil and soya protein.
You can always check with the company if you’re unsure of the source of an ingredient.
Fortunately, long-overdue change is happening!
Human volunteers who have donated tissues, both healthy and diseased, are providing a more accurate and relevant way of studying human disease and biology than outdated cruel animal experiments.
Human tissue donations can come via surgeries, eg. transplants, biopsies, and cosmetic surgery. Reconstituted human skin and other tissues have been used to develop skin and eye models.
Companies like Mattek and Episkin, CellSystems gmbH produce these tests in kits that are easy to use. They can test cosmetics and do away with the egregiously cruel rabbit irritation test.
The use of data from
cosmetic testing on animals has recently been banned in Australia. From 1 July
2020 the regulator won’t be able to accept data from animal testing which is
great news for animals.
More than 500,000 animals are killed in cosmetic laboratories around the world annually.
With so many non-animal alternatives that are cruelty free and more effective, it is unconscionable that these precious animals are still being used in some countries to test cosmetics!
Dogs, cats, monkeys, and baboons are not used for cosmetic testing, they have places reserved for them where many other types of torturous experiments are performed. The use of animals in cosmetic testing is questionable, to say the least, the first and possibly the most obvious reason is that animals aren’t humans. What works for animals hardly ever works for humans. In the case of vivisection, 95% of experiments carried out on animals had no positive outcome for humans. Humans and animals have different reactions to different substances, for example, Thalidomide caused limb deformities worldwide in the ’50s but in the animals, it was tested on it seemed ok. The painkiller Paracetamol is suitable for humans but it’s poisonous for cats. Arsenic, on the other hand, is poisonous for humans but does not harm sheep. Learn more about animals used in medicine here.
Many countries around the world including the EU, Norway, Israel, and India have embraced 21st-century science and recognised that cosmetic testing on animals is antiquated and inhumane. Therefore, they have banned cosmetic testing on animals completely. Vietnam has ended the cruel Draize rabbit eye test for cosmetics.
In-vitro genotoxicity and phototoxicity screening methods are more accurate, quicker and cheaper to use than animal testing. Sadly, the USA, China and many other parts of the world are still in the dark ages when it comes to cosmetic testing on animals (exception: California is the only US state that has banned animal-tested cosmetics. It comes into force in January 2020). These backward standards in these countries have many millions of dollars invested in animal testing facilities and will take longer to transition to cruelty-free testing.
Botox is mostly used cosmetically, but because it’s injected into, rather than being applied to the skin, the EU does not define it as a cosmetic.
Because of this ridiculous loophole, hundreds of thousands of mice die horrific deaths each year by being injected with poison while fully conscious, causing them to slowly suffocate and die through muscle paralysis.
But there is hope!
Dr Katy Taylor, Cruelty Free International’s Director of Science, said: “We are delighted that Ipsen has successfully gained the approval of a non-animal alternative in Europe. This will put an end to the cruel killing of hundreds of thousands of mice for the testing of botox products. It is unacceptable that animals go through an agonizing death for a product used for cosmetic purposes when a non-animal alternative is available. We urge other botox companies to make cruel botox animal tests a thing of the past.”
Botox itself contains no animal products, but it is not suitable for vegans because it is tested on animals.
Testing on animals is egregiously cruel.
We owe it to the animals to ensure they are free to exhibit their natural behaviours, are not confined, tortured and ultimately killed.
For the animals, for a kinder world and for your peace of mind, choose vegan and cruelty-free.
Author: Alana B
Animal Rights Activist
Science Museum Brought to Life: Thalidomide
Cosmetic Animal Testing: Rachel Wells and April Mendoza
Humane Society International
Cruelty Free International
Choose Cruelty Free
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