Last week, April 24 was the World Lab Animal Day. I came a bit too late with the post on that, but late is better than never.
It is not a secret that beauty industry is one of the things that have large impact on the world. Beauty products play a huge role helping us look more attractive, more confident and generally make our living a little bit better. But, unfortunately, this industry has a downside to it as well. While making ones happier, it lets others suffer.
Production of beauty products requires testing in order to make sure they are safe for consumers. That is a really essential thing, because no one wants to buy a face cream or a shaving lotion causing allergy, or to end up with a hair loss after using hair dyes. But many people don’t know that every year millions of living creatures are used to perform product testing “in vivo” – a method that involves experimentation using a whole living organism for product testing purposes. Even less people know about the exact ways of performing such tests.
Animals in laboratories are locked in small metal cages and face fear, anxiety and loneliness all the time. The so-called living there means a chain of painful procedures which end one way – death.
“Before their deaths, some are forced to inhale toxic fumes, others are immobilized in restraint devices for hours, some have holes drilled into their skulls, and others have their skin burned off or their spinal cords crushed”, PETA.
You can get a deeper understanding on how tests are carried out by the example of rabbits, which are most often used in beauty industry in eye and skin tests (Draize Eye and Skin tests).
“…these tests involve holding rabbits in full body restraints so that chemicals can be dripped in their eye or spread on their shaved and scraped skin. The restraint stops the animals from pawing at their eyes or back to relieve the discomfort and so interfere with the experiment. The Draize test is used to measure irritation or corrosion caused to the eye or skin, but it is notoriously unreliable, producing highly variable results. It is also extremely unpleasant and painful, causing eye reddening, swelling, ulceration, even blindness, or skin cracking and bleeding.”, Human Society International.
According to the sixth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (2010) mice are the ones which are used most frequently with 59% among other living creatures, then come rats with 18%, fish – 9%, birds – 6%, rabbits – 3%, other rodents – 2%, farm animals – 1%, reptiles and amphibians – 1%, cats and dogs – <1% and monkeys and prosimians – <1%.
Animal suffering because of these tests is only one (though a huge one) side of the problem. Another big issue is that such way of testing is not always informative enough. In many cases even when testing proves the ability of the product to harm living creature, it will still be sold to consumers. Besides, sometimes products which did not harm animals during the testing may turn out to be harmful for people, because our skins may react differently to the same products.
It is obvious that this method is inhumane. Luckily, the alternative is already there. What’s more, there is more than just one way of substituting animal testing for the sake of those, who can’t protect themselves and have to suffer every day to meet the needs of those, who are stronger.
So, here they are:
– In Vitro testing, which means experiments in test tubes or experiments using cells cultures in Petri dishes in controlled laboratory conditions;
– Computer (in silico) modeling – a way of testing, performed on computer or via computer simulation, so neither animals, nor cells cultures are used;
– Research with human volunteers;
– Human-patient simulators: experiments with simulators, which are extremely similar to human bodies. “Strikingly life-like computerized human-patient simulators that breathe, bleed, convulse, talk, and even “die” have been shown to teach students physiology and pharmacology better than crude exercises that involve cutting up animals”, (PETA).
Follow the link to learn more on alternative testing methods: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-animal-testing/
The world of beauty industry is now divided into two camps. One camp consists of a large group of companies that stick to old methods and continue animal testing. On the other side we have those, who use alternative testing methods and ingredients to produce and sell either cruelty-free or vegan beauty products. So in one of my next posts I will introduce you to both types of companies and tell you a little bit more on cruelty-free cosmetics.
The idea here with this blog is to show that using makeup, skincare and hair care products is possible without having others to suffer and I hope that together we can make this world a better place.