Do You Buy Products From Beauty Brands That Use Animal Testing?

Aubrey O'day with her dogs

On March 11th, the EU’s sweeping ban on animal testing goes into effect, meaning “all personal care products, from high-end to drugstore brands, will be subject to the rules,” and thus “final products cannot be tested on animals and nor can any of a given products’ ingredients.” Cosmetics will still be tested in-house by their manufacturers for safety, per the EU’s terms.

In anticipation of the ban, beauty giant Shiseido has done away with all animal testing practices in Europe, except in “exceptionally rare cases in which the safety of an ingredient has been called into question,” per WWD.

China, however, is a different story. Apparently China has strict policies in place requiring any new products to be tested on animals before making their way to store shelves, so any brand with a Chinese arm necessarily employs animal testing. In other words, there’s still work to be done.

We were actually surprised at the extent to which animal testing is relied upon by the beauty industry (especially where it isn’t required by law). So, we took this opportunity to read the Humane Society’s FAQ on the practice:

Q: What animal tests are carried out to test cosmetics?
A: Although they are not required by law, several tests are commonly performed by exposing mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals to cosmetics ingredients. This can include:

  • skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of restrained rabbits without any pain relief
  • repeated force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards such as cancer or birth defects; and
  • widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow large amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death.

At the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking, or decapitation. Pain relief is not provided. In the United States, a large percentage of the animals used in such testing (such as laboratory-bred rats and mice) are not counted in official statistics and receive no protection under the Animal Welfare Act.

So that’s obviously horrible.

As a fashion and beauty blogger, we enjoy the terrific perk of being inundated with free cosmetics all the time–and thus can be quite particular about the brands we wear. As it happens, a lot of our favorites are cruelty free–Hourglass, NARS, Bobbi Brown, Stila, etc.

…But we wanted to ask: do you factor in a brand’s use of animal testing when making decisions at the beauty counter?

And, for those of you that do, please mention some favorite cruelty-free companies.

(via HuffPo, photo via Wenn)

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    • http://helloalle.com/ Alle

      There is no such thing as a 100% cruelty free product. Every single ingredient that goes into making cosmetics was, at some point, tested on animals in the exact same horrible ways that you describe. The difference is that those tests were done before a specific date in the 80′s, back before consumers knew or really cared about that stuff. So when a company says that they don’t test on animals, it’s marketing. They probably don’t test on animals right now this second, but they are still using ingredients that were tested on animals–and again, those animals were tortured and they died in extreme pain–at some point.

      So what do you do? Basically I don’t do a damn thing, because I can’t. An animal dead is an animal dead, whether it happened 30 years ago or yesterday. I use really basic products to clean my skin, because I am of the opinion that’s all one needs, and spend many dollaz on my makeup. I buy the stuff that does its job the best; the cruelty-free thing doesn’t come into it for me, because there’s fundamentally no such thing.

      • Amanda

        There is a huge difference between companies using generic ingredients that were animal tested 30 years ago and companies still conducting animal testing now. For one, the quantity of animals suffering is decreased when a company ceases animal testing. While you may not believe in cruelty-free, less cruelty is better than more and worth paying the difference. An animal dead 30 years ago is an animal dead 30 years ago, but it is not an additional hundred or thousand dead today. Additionally, I feel more comfortable knowing that when my money is spent on cosmetics, it is not being used by that company to conduct further inhumane testing. Choosing what your hard-earned money will and will not finance is also cruelty prevention.

    • Nat

      I’ve done animal research for breast cancer, fatty liver disease and a couple other things. And I have to say, yes, these animals are killed in the end. But there are very strict guidelines of the amount of pain discomfort they are allowed to endure before you have to stop, put them down, etc. There are also strict rules for housing them, so they are comfortable and happy and have buddies to play with. I think any animal testing has an air of cruelty , but (and this sounds horrible and harsh) I would rather these products and research be done on animals to check safety before given to humans. I mean, testing on humans first thing could lead to so many problems and as much as I love animals, they are still animals.

      Also, funny story. I was at the pet store picking up Iams cat food for my kitten (because I am not a horrible animal killer and do love her very much) and the kitten adoption lady goes “Oh, I wouldn’t buy Iams! They test on animals!” and I said “Well, I’d hope so, it is cat food.” and the lady just stared at me until I slowly walked away.

      • Dawkins

        Humans are animals. I will never understand the mentality that everything on this planet is only exists for our disposal. I imagine that you have low tolerance for other animals in general and I hope that your kitten doesn’t ever do anything to upset you because you would have no problem disposing of her too. Testing should be done on humans or not at all.

      • Amanda

        Having worked for a pharmaceutical testing lab for nearly a year (after being first misled about the position and staying to compensate for other researchers’ dispassionate and incompetent animal care), I can attest that while strict guidelines exist in theory, individual laboratories and researchers frequently fail to adhere to these guidelines. In addition, one must consider that mice, rats, and birds have long been excluded from the protections offered by the Animal Welfare Act despite their constituting the vast majority of laboratory animals. Testing on animals is a highly fallible practice, both in ethics and in accuracy, and the argument for cosmetics as a necessity worthy of additional animal death and suffering is a weak one.

        I would also agree with the adoption clerk at the pet store regarding Iams, and suggest that you further educate yourself on the variety of animal testing conducted by the company if it is not currently of concern to you. Of course pet food should have preliminary tests run on pets, as this is the only way to determine the safety of mass production and distribution to household animals. However, Iams’ usage of cruel and invasive testing procedures would not be necessary to monitor the quality of pet food were safe and natural ingredients used (I’ve certainly never heard of induced muscular atrophy and surgery in humans to test the safety of produce), nor are the rigid clinical environments and acute stress of laboratory animals properly reflective of the average household pet’s metabolic system. Cruelty-free and externally valid studies can easily be conducted from the homes of pet owners by teams of registered veterinarians performing regular blood, urine, and fecal examinations. In fact, they are already being successfully conducted by several of Iams’ competitors, including Nutri-Vet and Great Life.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sarahpody Sarah Pody

        you are a coward

    • Darla

      Urban Decay, MAC, Stila and Tarte are all my favorites and are all (as) cruelty-free (as possible).

      • Karen

        MAC products are tested in animals, because their want to enter in the chinese market :/ (and bobbi brown too)

    • Mischa

      Yeah, I love me some Urban Decay–for pigment and ethics.

    • Natyasha Deoera

      There are DEFINETELY companies that DO NOT test on animals and are MOST DEFINETELY cruelty-free. Glam Girl Naturals Cosmetics, Urban Decay, and a few others are the trend setters who use ingredients that are natural, and if testing is needed, it is done on humans. It is an all together safer brand, and the fact that PETA does their research to find and create an ongoing current-list of cruelty-free makeup brands is important. Look there to see who is cruelty free and you will be happy you did. Glam Girl Naturals Cosmetics is one of my favorities, and their prices are pretty decent too, with great quality.