Testing cosmetics on animals is related to many aspects of the product’s manufacturing process, occurring on the individual ingredients within the formula or on the finished product. Though you have heard some good news about this method, it has become one of the most controversial topics the world has ever had. It was already banned in the UK, but it still does occur in other countries. The European Union has even introduced a testing and marketing ban in 2009.
Now, both sides of this argument are firmly entrenched in their beliefs, making it difficult for them to reach any agreement. There are positives and negatives on each side, so the best way to come up with a well-informed decision about it is taking a closer look at its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Animal Testing on Cosmetics
1. It aids research.
Without the ability to test cosmetics on animals before being released to consumers, it would be difficult for researchers to make an educated guess about these products’ safety. But with animal testing, developers of these products are able to conduct trial and error to learn more about providing consumers with the best possible goods.
2. It helps improves human health.
With this method, people are assured of never being exposed to any harmful toxins or chemicals, leading to a drop in health risks for consumers. Now, scientists argue that testing cosmetics on animals before introducing them to the public is needed for the process, or people would be exposed to products that are potentially harmful.
3. It gives benefits to companies that are performing it.
Firms that are participating in cosmetic tests on animals have a competitive edge over those that do not do it. Also, they feel that they are safeguarding the environment through the method.
4. It uses animals that are a close match to humans.
Though animal composition is not completely similar to human beings, it is just sufficient for scientists to use on tests to see how cosmetics would work on humans. While there are certain inherent limitations with this method, it is the best method until medical technology advances further.
5. It offers benefits to the animals themselves.
Can you imagine if vaccines were not tested on animals? Millions of them would have died from distemper, rabies, leukemia, tetanus, infectious hepatitis virus, parvo or anthrax. Animal treatments that were developed using animal testing also include remedies for glaucoma and hip dysplasia, as well as pacemakers for heart disease. Moreover, animal testing has also been instrumental in saving endangered species from extinction. Aside from all of these breakthroughs for animals, the method also helped produce medicines for humans. Thus, it should also be the same with animal testing on cosmetics.
6. It is highly regulated, with laws in place to protect animals from mistreatment.
Aside from state and federal laws and guidelines, animal research is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) since 1966. Aside from stipulating minimum housing standards for animal research subjects, this law also requires regular inspections by veterinarians. All proposals of using animals for research should be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) that was set up by research facilities.
List of Cons of Animal Testing on Cosmetics
1. It causes death of animals.
While there are painless trials, where animals are able to return to wherever they came from afterwards, this does not always happens in all trials. Take note that some animals are killed immediately after each trial. And in some cases, animals may suffer from chemical poisoning or injuries, which would force them to live the rest of their life in captivity.
2. It poses inhumane treatment.
In cosmetics testing, animals would endure inhumane treatment, where they are being restrained. In the case of the Draize Test, for example, eyelids of the test rabbits were held back for at least 3 days during the test. This practice has become particularly controversial because animals mostly experience suffering and discomfort, and would eventually die—all for the sake of aesthetics and “looking good”. It is this aspect of animal testing that has drawn an enormous amount of criticism, not just in the UK, but internationally.
3. It performs tests that are not necessary.
Unfortunately, animal testing on cosmetics does not always lead to the release of new cosmetics. In fact, there are tests done, without products actually put into use. Animals are just suffering and dying in vain by being subjects in dangerous tests that do not even have direct human benefits. Unless every product, which is being tested, is proven safe for public consumption, proponents of this method do not see the need for doing it.
4. It costs a lot of money.
It is important to note that animal testing is not cheap. Providing shelter, food and care for the animals is costly. Not only that, the procedure usually takes place over the course of several months, accumulating more expenses for firms relying on it. For the animals themselves, they often have to be purchased, which is another considerable cost.
5. It passes drugs that are not necessarily safe.
This was certainly true by looking at the sleeping pill thalidomide in the 1950s, which caused thousands of babies to be born with severe deformities. The drug was definitely tested on animals before it was released commercially. It was later found out that the drug did not result in birth defects unless it was administered at extremely high doses. Another case was that involving the arthritis drug Vioxx, which showed to protect the hearts of mice, yet went on to be the cause of tens of thousands of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before it was pulled from the market.
6. It is not proven as the main reason for medical breakthroughs.
Many scientists stated that medical accomplishments that used animal testing may still have been made without such procedure. In fact, they said that there is no evidence that animal experiments were essential in attaining such advancements. If enough time, money and resources were dedicated to animal-free alternatives, other scientific solutions would have been found.
Animal testing on cosmetics is undeniably a very controversial topic, where there are scientists who see some benefits, while others see it as unnecessary when there are alternative methods. Based on the pros and cons listed above, which side are you on?
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.