Cosmetic testing is animal cruelty is disguise and we’re doing nothing about it. Before we can argue that animal cruelty is unnecessary, we need to know and understand the gruesome details of the truth. Cosmetic testing is being done on animals such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Uncommonly but still done are the tests on cats, monkeys, hamsters, and dogs. These tests are being done in countries such as The United States, Australia, New Zealand and many more. In fact, it’d be easier to list the countries that have already put a ban on cosmetic testing as it’s a much smaller list than those who continue to test on animals. About 40 out of 195 countries in the world have banned cosmetic testing.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines cosmetics as "articles intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance without affecting the body's structure or functions." Some examples of cosmetics are skin creams, perfumes, lipstick, nail polish, eye and facial makeup, shampoo and hair dye. To broaden this spectrum even more, if there is an ingredient labeled as cosmetic used in any product that can classify it as a cosmetic and may be tested the same way other cosmetics are being tested. This means there are thousands of products being tested on animals.
Another important area to understand is what the tests actually entail. In these tests for cosmetic products, the animals being used “suffer through evaluations for skin irritation, eye irritation and any kind of toxicity. This in turn can cause severe damage to the animal, or worse, death.”. Animals have chemicals forced down their throats, into their eyes and onto their shaved skin. This is all in order to find out what the reaction will be to these chemicals. These tests are supposed to determine whether products are safe for humans. They’re used to conclude whether or not they cause general illness or cancer and birth defects. One of the most common animal studies is called the LD50 test. This is the cruelest form of testing. “LD50 stands for the “lethal dose 50%” test, where animals are given test substances until half of them die. Although this process has never been scientifically validated, it is used as a standard to determine acute toxicity levels for human use. Even with cosmetics, the application of an LD50 test is accurate to just 65%. In comparison, human cell-line tests, are up to 80% accurate.” These animals are forced to ingest large amounts of a chemical being tested to see at what dosage the animal dies. If these tests do not result in death, they always result in pain to the animal. They consequences are sore skin, swollen eyes, convulsions, organ damage, blindness, internal and external bleeding, and birth defects.
To make matters worse many of the items tested by the cosmetics industry are never even used. “The safety of products measured by animal testing often results in development practices that are abandoned. If too much harm comes to the animal, then that increases the chance of harm eventually happening to a human if the product were to be used.” Animals are unknowingly sacrificing their lives to determine whether chemicals are safe when in reality the products rarely make it out of the developmental stage.
Humane Society International estimates that 100,000–200,000 animals suffer and die every year due to cosmetic testing. These are the facts. This is what is being done to give us the products billions of people use every single day. However, it doesn’t need to stay this way. Animal experimentation is costly, inhumane and because animals are not people, not usually predictive. So why are we continuing to use a harmful, inhumane and barely conclusive method?
I believe that cosmetic testing on animals is not needed for the safety and usefulness of products. However, many others would disagree. Although there are numerous downsides to cosmetic testing on animals the benefits of these experiments cannot be ignored. The benefits to animal testing are particularly noticeable in past years.
Animal testing provides research for new products and chemicals used in them. Companies must deal with the consequences of unsafe products and that cannot be ignored. They must have a way to test products before shipping them out into stores because if anything goes wrong or they are unsafe the consequences will be monumental. Natalie Regoli, editor-in-chief for connectusfund.org says “Educated guesses are not good enough for companies that must deal with legal liabilities if their products harm customers.” This is a major obstacle for companies. Animal testing is a solution to this problem because “Trial and error exercises are permitted within this type of research, which makes it possible to create advancements which benefit people.” (Regoli). In other words, being able to find out mistakes and what’s unsafe before it’s put on the shelves is an extreme benefit of animal testing.
However, the results from animal testing are not reliable. “Failure rates from animal research activities in all industries is above 90%. Recent data published by the Food and Drug Administration suggests that the failure rate of drugs tested on animals could be as high as 96%.” This means that not only are the tests inhumane but inconclusive.
Another major case for pro-animal testing is the fact that it has worked in the past not only for cosmetics but for great scientific advancements as well. “Almost every major advancement humanity made in the field of medicine and product development relied on animal testing in some way.” (Regoli). Many scientists back the use of animals in cosmetic testing because it has aided so significantly in their own medical research. Alok Jha and Paul Lewis wrote about a particular scientist that backs cosmetic testing in an article for The Guardian. They said, “An Oxford-based neurosurgeon who last week became one of the first scientists to publicly champion the use of animals in medical research condones their use to test cosmetics.” (Jha&Lewis) the particular scientist names Tipu Aziz was also interviewed for their article. In their interview he said "People talk about cosmetics being the ultimate evil. But beautifying oneself has been going on since we were cavemen. If it's proven to reduce suffering through animals’ tests, it's not wrong to use them." (Aziz).
Most people who are pro-animal testing believe it’s them or the animal. However, that is simply not true. In today’s world there are other tests that we can use to deem a product as safe for humans and more often than not it’s more accurate. Eliminating animal experimentation of cosmetics is completely possible. In the last three decades scientists have produced more innovative alternatives to animal testing. These methods utilize human blood, cell lines, synthetic skin and computer simulations to determine the safety of products. Some international corporations have adopted these alternative tests methods, reducing and in some cases eliminating their dependency on animal experimentation. As a result, they cut prices and time spent on testing their ingredients and products. “More than 50 non-animal tests have been validated for use, and these modern alternatives can offer results that are more relevant to people, often more cheaply and quickly, too. That’s because advanced non-animal tests represent the very latest techniques that science has to offer, replacing outdated animal tests.”
Additionally, there are thousands of ingredients deemed safe for cosmetic use. Through all the years that cosmetics have been around we have done millions of tests to see whether or not a product is safe. Because of this we know of thousands of safe ingredients. Companies do not need to continue to create and test new products if they simply use those already deemed as safe. Cruelty free companies stick to using these safe ingredients instead of trying to find new ones and their products do not suffer.
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Another major problem with cosmetic testing is the fact that it’s expensive. “The average cost to care for a single chimpanzee published by Save the Chimps is $16,000 per year. To care for the average dog, the average cost is $9,000 per year. A single rat or mouse will cost several hundred dollars per year. Now multiply those costs by the 100 million animals that are rotated through the animal testing industry each year.” Companies are spending billions of dollars on animal testing when they could be using it to fund research that is cruelty free.
This topic is important to me because I use makeup almost every day just like billions of other humans in the world do. I do not want to use or support companies that put defenseless animals through harm for their own benefit when it’s not absolutely needed. My general consensus is that most people feel the way I do but are unaware of the alternatives for cosmetic testing. So, what do we do about this problem? How can we see a change? We can start by sharing this information with others. Peter Senge an American systems scientist who is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the founder of the Society for Organizational Learning said “Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something or getting something from them. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action.” Which means that by sharing this knowledge with others we can create a change in the way cosmetics are being tested today.
Another solution to this terrible problem we’re all involved in is by deciding to become cruelty free. Only buy products that are cruelty free. You’ll be able to tell they are by looking for the cruelty free logos. (see image to right.) By pledging to become cruelty free we can create a movement. This could cause companies that are not cruelty free to lose valued customers and money. They’ll quickly learn that the only way to gain these important assets back is to abandon they’re flawed forms of testing and look to more humane methods.
Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” This quote easily conveys the thought that animals are important, and they deserve to be treated well. Creatures do not deserve to continuously be harmed. In the article “Taking Animals Out of The Makeup Aisle” written in the New York Times by Andrea Cheng it says, “The fact remains, cosmetic testing on animals is still seen as extremely inhumane and unnecessary.”
- “About Cosmetics Animal Testing.” Humane Society International, 3 May 2019, https://www.hsi.org/news-media/about_cosmetics_animal_testing/.
- Chief, Editor in. “16 Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Animal Testing in Cosmetics.” ConnectUS, 12 Dec. 2018, https://connectusfund.org/16-key-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-animal-testing-in-cosmetics.
- “Cosmetic Animal Cruelty: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” FINE Magazine, https://www.finehomesandliving.com/Cosmetic-Animal-Cruelty-The-Good-the-Bad-and-the-Ugly/.
- “Cosmetics Testing FAQ.” The Humane Society of the United States, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cosmetics-testing-faq#alternatives.
- Cruelty Free International, https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/alternatives-animal-testing.
- Elvira, Ruben. “Not All-or-Nothing: Animal Testing Justified in Medical Research, Not Cosmetics.” Madison365, 26 June 2018, https://madison365.com/not-all-or-nothing-animal-testing-justified-in-medical-research-not-cosmetics/.
- Google Search, Google, https://www.google.com/search?q=cruelty+free+logos&safe=strict&sxsrf=ACYBGNTwXc2tL_pE_qW1Jd3PxpAqoI-JFA:1576113117187&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjH5Obz9q7mAhXYQs0KHbOIDFwQ_AUoAXoECAsQAw&cshid=1576113399894916&biw=787&bih=568#imgrc=Fro-CbJTKoGxYM:
- Jha, Alok, and Paul Lewis. “Scientist Backs Animal Testing for Cosmetics.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Mar. 2006, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2006/mar/04/businessofresearch.research.
- Kantamneni, Visala. “Cosmetics Animal Testing Has Been Banned in These Amazing Places.” One Green Planet, One Green Planet, 10 Apr. 2014, https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/countries-that-have-banned-cosmetics-animal-testing/.
- “Mahatma Gandhi Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mahatma_gandhi_150700.
- “TOP 15 SHARING INFORMATION QUOTES: A-Z Quotes.” A, https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/sharing-information.html.
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