As consumers, we do not often get a peek behind closed doors. We trust that the products we purchase will be safe, that they’ll be of high quality, and will have the desired results. But how can the manufacturers be so sure that their products tick all these boxes?
You’ve seen the high prices on some anti-wrinkle creams, and you’ve also seen people buying them. Clearly, something must be working – but how exactly have these companies perfected their formulas?
Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry still uses animal testing to help determine the safety and efficacy of the products they are selling. Not all companies engage in this practice, however those that do are not always transparent about their testing processes.
It is perfectly understandable that as a responsible consumer, you would want to know as much as possible about the products you buy, including whether they have been tested on animals. To help you understand a little more about what goes on, let’s answer some top questions.
Why Test on Animals?
You have probably heard the term “lab rat.” It refers to an animal that’s used in laboratory testing, most often for either medical or cosmetic products. Rats, mice, and other small animals have the ability to breed very quickly, meaning that thousands, if not millions, of test subjects can easily be made available. Therefore experiments can be repeated over and over to determine results.
Medical and cosmetic products are subjected to certain regulations, depending on where they are produced. There is usually a government agency overseeing the products that make it out to consumers, and there are safety and efficacy requirements which must be met before anything can be sold.
Some companies choose to demonstrate the effectiveness of their product by providing the overseeing agency with the results of extensive animal testing.
What Does Animal Testing Look Like?
It isn’t pretty. Take a look at any product in your cosmetics case: do any of them have warning labels on the back? They may mention something about eye or skin irritation, or perhaps there’s a caution against ingesting the product.
In some cases (although certainly not all) these warnings have been added as a result of animal testing. The chemicals used to formulate some cosmetic products will be tested on animals to see whether they will harm, or even kill them.
Some tests involve chemicals being directly applied to the eyes or skin of animals, while others involve force-feeding them to find out what happens if the product is accidentally eaten. Animals are sometimes even injected with the chemicals to determine at what concentration the chemical becomes lethal.
Animals used in testing are often not provided with pain relief, and indeed many of them do die as a result of these experiments.
What Can I Do About This?
One of the best things you can do as a consumer is contact the companies that make your favorite cosmetics, and ask them about their animal testing policies. If you find that they are engaging in practices you don’t agree with, you may want to switch to products that are cruelty-free.
Companies that do not test on animals often proudly proclaim that fact right on the packaging, so it’s easier for consumers to find cruelty-free products. For instance, this anti-wrinkle cream comes from a company that never tests on animals, and may therefore be a better alternative to the one you’re already using.
Are There Alternatives to Animal Testing?
Yes, there are alternatives. Companies that don’t test on animals use ingredients in their cosmetic products that have a long history of safety in the consumer market. There is no need to subject animals to further testing, because through careful research, these companies are able to come up with formulations that are known to be both safe and effective.
Lastly, you do have the ability to make your voice heard. You can write to companies that test on animals, and ask them to find a better way. As consumers become more informed about these practices, companies will be held more accountable for what they do. You can make a difference.