I absolutely love makeup and skincare products as much as the next person, but what I don’t love are the cruel histories behind some of the most raved about products. I consider myself an animal lover because I have some pretty cute pups and I certainly can’t imagine bringing them any harm. So why was I then contributing to the cruelty of other animals with the products I was purchasing? Honestly, it was because I was ignorant to the facts, which is why I want to spread the word about how animal testing is hiding behind some pretty popular brands. When I learned that animal testing was linked to the products on my own vanity I couldn’t help but be surprised. There they were, the beautiful bottles of Benefit foundations and Maybelline mascaras, tainted in my eyes. I was hurt that most of my staple products had such an unfortunate history. I honestly just couldn't believe that animal testing was still so popular after the long history of an effort to stop it. So I vowed to only purchase and use cruelty free products from then on. What I learned was that going “cruelty free” is pretty easy, it is just about being a little bit more conscious about the companies I buy products from. The best part is, when I buy makeup and skincare products now, I know that my money isn’t going towards any animal suffering. The bottom line is that animal testing is inhumane and inaccurate, and those alone are great reasons to go cruelty free.
One reason to stop purchasing items that are tested on animals is because animal testing causes animal suffering. The environments these lab animals live in are so unlike their natural environments it causes measurable stress on the animals(1). Rabbits like to be in groups, and when they are isolated for testing, the stress influences their wellbeing(1). I would be stressed too if I were locked alone in a cage all day, and physically removed every few hours to be poked and lathered with irritating products. Not only is their housing unsuitable, but the tests these lab animals are subjected to are also painful and uncomfortable. The Draize test for example, is used to test for irritation of products by using albino rabbits(2). They pick albino rabbits because they are more sensitive than non-albino rabbits, which means they will most likely experience irritation when exposed to test products(2). The products tested can cause burns which can be extremely painful, and the animals have no choice but to deal with it. The stress these animals endure cannot compare to the stress in our daily lives. We as people have the power to remove certain stressors entirely, but these animals have no such choice.
Another reason to go cruelty free is because animals are not the best models for humans, making the testing inaccurate. So not only are they mistreated, but the results from animal trials are sometimes unreproducible in people. This is mainly because there are fundamental differences between humans and other animals. Even individual humans react differently to a single product than other humans (ex: some one with dry skin versus someone with oily skin) and that problem occurs within our very own species. Only 5%-25% of animal test results are actually in line with human results, which is not very much(4). This disparity unfortunately causes false positives and negatives. A false positive, is when a product does well in an animal model yet fails to work in humans. Not only can these products be failures, but they can actually be harmful when brought to human trails. A false negative on the other hand, is when a product doesn’t work in the animal model, but it could actually work well in human trials. Hypothetically, if the toxicity of chocolate was being tested on dogs and not humans, it would be shown to be toxic and it would be dropped from further testing. No one could benefit from the deliciousness of chocolate because of the false negative. Think about how many useful and truly beneficial products are being thrown out because they fail the animal model! Not to mention how far science has been pushed back because the main vehicle of testing has been via animal models.
It is hard to imagine that all of the industries participating in animal testing will just come to a screeching halt, but there are a few things you can do to help. Money talks, so buying only cruelty free or vegan products really helps. Most products that are cruelty free will have a little bunny logo on the packaging. If you want to take an extra step, double check that the parent companies are also cruelty free (Bobbi Brown is cruelty free, but their parent company, Estee Lauder is not). Beware of cosmetic companies that sell in China. They cannot guarantee that their products are not tested on animals because China requires foreign cosmetics companies to do so (ex: M.A.C. Cosmetics). Another thing you can always do is donate a little bit of money (even $1 helps) to a charity that focuses on helping animals, http://www.viralnova.com/best-animal-charities/ has some to choose from. As consumers, it is important to note where the money we spend is going. If we don’t agree with the values of certain companies, we have the right to buy elsewhere. Giving our money to companies that do good and aline with our personal values, will hopefully push other companies to jump on the cruelty free bandwagon.
- “Stress in Laboratory Juvenile Rabbits: Physiological Indicators,” Adina Baias, Alina Bodnariu, Ileana Nichita, Romeo T. Cristina. Banat’s University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine from Timişoara, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Timisoara, 300645- Timisoara, Calea Aradului, 119, Romania
- Romanowski, Perry. "Animal Testing in Cosmetic Industry." Chemist's Corner. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2016. http://chemistscorner.com/animal-testing-in-the-cosmetic-industry/
Greek, C. Ray., and Jean Swingle. Greek. Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.
Lumley, C. E., and Stuart R. Walker. Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man. N.p.: Quay, 1990. Print.