Cosmetic Animal Cruelty: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Cruelty of Animal Testing

Makeup seems harmless, but when the thought of animal testing comes to mind, it’s anything but. We often forget that the products we use every day are potentially tested on animals. According to Cruelty Free International, animal testing is pretty pointless; the science of it is ineffective, as animals don’t develop the same diseases humans do. As for cosmetic testing, the potential reactions of animals could be completely unrelated to humans. 

The Humane Society says that even though animal testing is not required by law (like it is in China), companies still choose to use it. The animals most frequently used are mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs. In these tests for cosmetic products, they suffer through evaluations for skin irritation, eye irritation and any kind of toxicity. This in turn can cause severe damage to the animal, or worse—death. Even if you aren’t an animal person, you can’t deny the pain and suffering these animals go through. 

At the end of their rounds of testing, if the animals haven’t already died, they are then killed without any kind of pain relief. Unfortunately, these animals are often not protected under the Animal Welfare Act. Again, animal testing can be pointless because, according to the Human Society, "different species can respond differently when exposed to the same chemicals." So this means that the results that companies may get from these tests could be irrelevant to how their products could affect the human body. 

Animal testing is simply unnecessary. This doesn't mean that we should instead put humans in danger. A solution to animal testing is for companies to use products that are already deemed safe. There are tons of ingredients that have already been confirmed as safe for human skin. They have been used for years and were tested in the past. This means they do not require more testing, putting an end to animal testing, which is how so many companies remain cruelty-free. According to PETA, an alternative to animal testing that companies use is to use cornea-like 3D structures, which are produced from human cells. These human skin cultures can be grown and purchased specifically for cosmetic testing. 

Humane Society International estimates that 100,000–200,000 animals suffer and die every year due to cosmetic testing. In these tests, the animals have chemicals forced down their throats, into their eyes and onto their shaved skin in order to document their reaction to ensure the safe use for humans. These tests determine if these products cause general illness or health hazards like cancer or birth defects. They also conduct lethal dose tests, where the animals are forced to swallow large amounts of a test chemical to see what dose can cause death. These tests can result in immense pain, distress, blindness, swollen eyes, sore and bleeding skin, internal bleeding, organ damage, birth defects, convulsions and even death in the animals. 

However, there are scientists who back animal testing for cosmetics. Animal testing obviously reduces suffering for humans, which scientists feel is most important. According to Understanding Animal Research, we share 95% of our genes with mice, which some argue proves that using them for testing is effective. There is also the argument that veterinary research relies on animal testing. Animal testing has also contributed to many life-saving cures and treatments. But the fact remains, cosmetic testing is still seen as extremely inhumane and unnecessary. 

As of April of this year, there are many companies who still test on animals. We’ve gathered a list of companies who do and do not test to help you transition into a cruelty-free makeup collection (keep in mind, some companies have chosen to remain silent about their testing policies). Cosmetic companies based in the UK are typically cruelty-free, as cosmetic testing is banned there. To ensure an absolute cruelty-free cosmetics collection, always look out for the signature cruelty-free bunny logo.

Makeup Companies

Who tests: Almay, Amazing Cosmetics, Artistry, Avon, Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Borghese, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Chapstick, Cle de Peau, Clinique, CoverGirl, Demeter, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Estee Lauder, Flirt, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Guerlain, Helena Rubinstein, L'Oreal, Lancome, Laura Mercier, MAC, Make Up Forever, Marc Jacobs, Mary Kay, Max Factor, Maybelline, OPI, Prescriptives, Rimmel London, Revlon, Shiseido, Shu Uemura, Sinful Colors, Sephora brand, Stila, Tom Ford, Tony Moly, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Who doesn’t: Anastasia Beverly Hills, Ardell, Ardency Inn, Becca, BH Cosmetics, Butter London, Charlotte Tillbury, China Glaze, ColourPop, DuWop, ELF, Essence, Flower, Hard Candy, Hourglass, Illamasqua, IT Cosmetics, Jordana, Josie Maran, Kat Von D, Makeup Geek, Milani, OCC, Physicians Formula, Pur Minerals, Sonia Kashuk, The Balm, Too Faced, Urban Decay, Wet N Wild, and Zoya.

Skincare Companies

Who tests: Algenists, Ambi, American Beauty, Aveeno, Avene, Avon, Bain de Soleil, Bioderma, Biotherm, Bliss, Boscia, Caudalie, Cetaphil, Clarins, Clarisonic, Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Coppertone, DDF, DHC, Dermablend, Dr. Brandt, Dr. Jart, EOS, Eucerin, Fresh, Garnier, Gatineau, Glamglow, Good Skin Labs, Grassroots, Jurlique, Kiehl’s, L’Occitane, La Mer, La Roche Posay, Lab Series for Men, Lubriderm, Mederma, Neutrogena, Nivea, Noxzema, Nu Skin International, Nuxe, Ojon, Olay, Origins, Oriflame, Osiao, Peter Thomas Roth, Piz Buin, Ponds, ROC, Rembrandt, Simple, SK-II, Skin ID, St. Ives, Vaseline, Vichy, Walgreens brand, and Yves Rocher.

Who doesn’t: Aesop, Alba Botanica, Blissoma, Desert Essence, Dr. Bronner, First Aid Beauty, Glossier, Juice Beauty, Lush, Pacifica, SuperGoop!, Trader Joe's, and Yes To.

Of course this is just a fraction of the industry, but these are the most popular brands who do or do not test on animals. If you wish to switch your collection to all cruelty-free products, it’s an easy transition! It’s suggested to continue using the products you have, as not to waste your hard-earned money, but don’t repurchase items that aren’t cruelty-free. A lot of cruelty-free brands are actually pretty affordable and great quality, so swapping out products for cruelty-free ones won’t be a pain at all. The best way you can help to put an end to cosmetic animal cruelty is by going cruelty-free!

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