The Price of Beauty: Animal Experimentation and the Cosmetic Industry
can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi
“The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk?
But rather, Can they suffer? -- Jeremy Bentham
“To insult someone we call him ‘bestial’. For deliberate cruelty and nature,
‘human’ might be the greater insult.” – Isaac Asimov.
The practice of testing cosmetics on animals began in 1933, soon after a woman applied mascara and went blind. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) in 1938 to protect the public from unsafe cosmetics. In the United States, manufacturers bear responsibility to ensure their products are safe for consumer use. In fact, cosmetic products that have not been adequately tested for safety must have a warning statement on the front label which reads, “WARNING – The safety of this product has not been determined." Although the FDA does not explicitly require animal testing for cosmetics products or ingredients, the agency has historically used animal toxicity data as its de facto gold standard to settle safety issues. The FDA “urges cosmetic manufacturers to conduct whatever tests are appropriate to establish that their cosmetics are safe”, but does not specifically mandate animal testing.
Cosmetic testing on animals includes all of the following practices:
- testing a finished cosmetic product on animals
- testing individual ingredients of cosmetic products on animals
- testing any combination of ingredients on animals
- contracting a third-party company to perform any of the above tests
- using a subsidiary or third-party company to perform any of the above tests in countries were animal testing is not banned.
Some of the tests conducted on animals include:
- eye irritancy tests (Draize)
- acute toxicity tests (LD50)
- and skin irritancy tests
In 1944, John Draize developed a scoring system to grade eye damage. Since the war, the Draize test has become the standard procedure for estimating the eye irritancy potential of a wide variety of products, including shampoo, hairspray, deodorant, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.
In the Draize test, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into one eye of a group of albino rabbits. The other eye is used as a control. Rabbits are most commonly used in this experiment, because they have insufficient tear ducts. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests. Irritation levels are observed over several days. Damage to the cornea, conjunctiva, and iris, as well as discharge, are recorded and combined into a single score.
The maximum score possible is 110, which usually means destruction of the eye. The tests sometimes last from 72 hours to 7 to 18 days.
Since the cornea is one of the most sensitive tissues in the body, irritation and ulceration produces considerable amounts of pain. During the tests, rabbits are often confined in a restraining device, with only their heads protruding. Their eyelids are usually held open with clips. Since the rabbits are restrained, they are unable to rub their eyes to relieve themselves from the irritation in their eyes. Pain relieving drugs usually are not administered because experimenters claim their use would interfere with the test results. As a result of these factors, many animals will break their necks or backs in an effort to escape.
Charles R. Magel, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Moorhead State University, explains it best:
“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: “because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.”
It is important to note that results from animal tests are not transferable between species, and therefore cannot guarantee product safety for humans. Thus, these tests do not provide protection for consumers from unsafe products, but rather they are used to protect corporations from legal liability. This evidence begs the
question…why are countless animals being tortured and sacrificed to supposedly protect humans, when the success rate is this minute?
Hundreds of cosmetic companies have turned their backs on animal testing and are taking advantage of the many sophisticated non-animal test methods available today including Epipak - the use of cloned human tissue to test potentially harmful substances. This method is used by Avon, Amway, and Estée Lauder.
Countries such as the U.S. and Japan require that all new ingredients must be animal tested to ensure safety. This means that every 'new improved super formula' we see advertised has involved much cruelty in its development.
How to Find Cruelty-Free Products:
I wrote to a company, and they said that none of their products are tested on animals? Is this a satisfactory response?
No! It is quite possible that their finished products have not been tested, but the ingredients that go into the products may well have been. When writing or phoning a company, always ask for a fixed cut-off date that applies to both the company itself and its suppliers, as this is the only way you can guarantee that its products are cruelty-free.
- We do not carry out animal tests (another company may have done it on its behalf!)
- Contains only natural ingredients (still may have been tested on animals!)
- Environmentally Friendly (doesn't necessarily mean animal friendly!)
- Our policy has been not to test products or ingredients since year xxx (a dangerous statement as this implies a FCOD, but again they may have contracted the animal testing, or it may be done by their suppliers.)
Look for the Bunny for products that are proven cruelty-free!
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