You would think makeup brands that test on animals would be virtually nonexistent these days but unfortunately, they are still around. In fact, testing on animals is not only still happening around the globe, it’s often required by law before a cosmetic product can be sold to the public. Besides being unnecessarily cruel, animal testing is also not a very effective way to determine if a product is safe for use on humans. So why do we test makeup on animals?
Looking into the horrific world of makeup animal testing may make you reconsider some of your beauty purchases. Learn how it works, why it's still around, which beauty brands subscribe to animal testing, and which brands are certified cruelty-free.
If you have a weak stomach, you might not want to read this. These are just a few ways animals like mice, rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits are used to test cosmetics:
- Skin and eye irritation tests: Chemicals are rubbed onto the skin or dripped into the eyes of test animals.
- Force-feeding studies: Lab technicians will force-feed animals ingredients (like chemicals in lipsticks or lip balms) for weeks or months at a time and check for signs of illness or specific conditions, like cancer or birth defects.
- Lethal dose tests: Lab animals are forced to swallow large amounts of a test chemical in order to determine what constitutes a lethal dose.
Afterwards, many of these animals are killed and cut open so scientists can study the effects of the tested ingredients on their internal organs.
It feels crazy and barbaric that animal testing still happens in the beauty industry, but it does. In fact, some countries even require animal testing by law, including China.
On the surface, these tests are conducted to make sure products are safe for use on humans - especially if a company is using a new or untested ingredient in their product. However, animal testing has proven to be an unreliable method, since animals' skin and eyes react differently to products than a human's would.
Animal testing has been banned in the European Union since 2013, and India, Israel, Norway, and Switzerland have passed similar laws. The United States does not require animal testing but hasn't banned it - yet.
Although many countries have started banning animal testing - or are at least getting close - China has doubled-down on their animal testing laws. Any beauty item for sale in China must go through an animal testing phase first - even if the cosmetics company that produced it doesn't believe in testing on animals themselves. Because of this, many brands who sell their goods in China cannot be considered "cruelty-free."
In June 2017, NARS announced that although it didn't test on animals internally, they had decided to sell through China - a country that requires animal testing upon entry into the country - saying, "We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law." Customers were not happy about the decision, but NARS has yet to make a change.
Other companies that can't be considered cruelty-free due to their Chinese selling status include MAC, Estée Lauder, L'Oreal, Maybelline, and more.