Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to
determine the safety of
cosmetics. Substances such as eye shadow and soap are tested on
rabbits, rats, guinea
pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that the test results
don’t help prevent or
treat human illness or injury.
Cosmetics are not required to be tested on animals and since
alternatives exist, it’s hard to understand why some companies still
continue to conduct
these tests. Cosmetic companies kill millions of animals every year to
try to make a profit.
According to the companies that perform these tests, they are done to
establish the safety
of a product and the ingredients. However, the Food and Drug
which regulates cosmetic products, does not require animal testing.
Some of the tests
used on animals are eye irritancy tests, acute toxicity tests, and skin
In eye irritancy tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered
substance is dropped
into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. The animals are often
immobilized in stocks
from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no
anesthesia during the tests.
After placing the substance into the rabbits eyes, lab technicians
record the damage to the
eye tissue at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours.
The tests sometimes
last seven to eighteen days. Reactions to the substances include
ulceration, bleeding, swollen irises massive deterioration, and
blindness. During the tests,
rabbits eyelids are usually held open with clips, because of this, many
animals try to break
their necks as they try to escape.
Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning
tests, determine the
amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to
one-hundred percent, of a
group of test animals. In these tests, a substance is forced by tube
into the animals
stomach or through holes cut in their throats. Experimenters observe
reactions which can include convulsions, labored breathing,
malnutrition, skin eruptions,
and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth. The test was developed in
1927 and the
testing continues until at least fifty percent of the animals die
(usually takes 2-4 weeks).
Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable and have too
many variables to
have a constant result.
Skin irritancy tests are conducted on rabbits, guinea pigs and
other animals. The
process involves placing chemicals on the animals raw, shaved skin and
covering the skin
with adhesive plaster. The animals are immobilized in restraining
devices to prevent them
from struggling. Meanwhile, laboratory workers apply the chemicals
which burn into the
Alternatives to cosmetic testing are less expensive and
generally more reliable to
perform. Animals have different biological systems than humans
therefore the tests can’t
be as accurate as the current tests. Some alternatives include cell
cultures, tissue cultures,
corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical
Companies can also devise a formula using ingredients already proven
safe by the Food
and Drug Administration. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination
of methods to
ensure the safety of a product.
Lobbying by animal welfare groups has resulted in federal,
state, and local
legislation severely restricting animal experimentation. For example,
under the U.S.
Animal welfare act, all animals used in biomedical research must be
bought from vendors
licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA inspects
animals are used and enforces federal laws regarding treatment and care
of the animals.
Biomedical scientists have also taken action to prevent the abuse of the
because abused animals may not provide reliable data. The American
Society, the National Institutes of Health, and many other scientific
joined to lay down guidelines for the use and treatment of experimental
there are also many universities with animal welfare committees.
In the United States survey by the American Medical Association,
it was found
that 75 percent of Americans are against using animals in cosmetic
testing. Hundreds of
companies have responded by switching to animal-friendly test methods.
To help put an
end to animal testing, people can stop buying products that were tested
on animals. You
can also call and write to these companies, or write to your
about the alternatives that can be used.