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)