L’Oreal Grows Human Skin to Replace Animal Testing

Even though the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act doesn’t require U.S. cosmetics companies to test their products on animals, many companies do. Any cosmetics products that are exported to China must be tested on animals, although this terrible requirement will hopefully be ending soon.

During these tests, rabbits, rats and other animals are subjected to cruel and painful procedures, such as having harsh chemicals dripped into their eyes or rubbed on their skin without the help of pain relievers. The animals are usually killed afterward in really horrible ways — for example, by being suffocated or having their necks broken or heads cut off.

It’s especially despicable that some companies continue to torture live animals when plenty of humane alternatives are available. Nearly 50 non-animal tests are currently validated for use, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In addition to sparing animals, these alternatives produce results that are more relevant to human customers and more cost effective.

One of the alternatives, EpiSkin, was actually developed by L’Oreal – the parent company of cosmetics brands like Maybelline New York, Garnier, Lancome and Ralph Lauren Fragrances. L’Oreal has been criticized for testing its products on animals, although the company states it no longer does so.

Twenty years ago, L’Oreal acquired the biotechnology used to create EpiSkin, which is human flesh-like tissue that’s grown in a laboratory. Six years ago, L’Oreal opened the Predictive Evaluation Center in Lyon, France. More than 100,000 human skin tissue models have been grown there each year since then.

To grow the tissue models, cells are harvested from the top layer of pieces of human skin that have been donated by people of different ethnicities. The cells are placed in petri dishes filled with collagen gel and begin to grow once they’re mixed with water, sugar and amino acids. The fresh tissue models, about the size of dimes, are treated with ultraviolet light in order to age them.

The tissue models are a win-win for L’Oreal: Not only do they eliminate the use of live animals for testing, but the company has made a big profit by selling EpiSkin to other cosmetics, pharmaceutical, chemical and household products manufacturers.

Even more advanced human-like skin tissue will be available in the not-too-distant future. In 2015, L’Oreal partnered with the biotech company Organovo to produce 3-D printed tissue with hair follicles. The 3-D printing technology will allow mass production of this tissue and should end the need for any testing on live animals. L’Oreal has competition: Other companies, including EpiDerm, are also developing 3-D reconstructed tissue models.

Has the development of EpiSkin had a positive impact on the number of lab animals being used? Yes, according to Amy Clippinger, director of PETA’s regulatory testing department. She told CNBC that while animal use per endpoint is not publicly available in the United States, data from the U.K. shows that the number of animals used for skin irritation and corrosion testing globally has been “significantly” reduced over the past 15 years.

More than 30 countries around the world have phased out the testing of cosmetics on animals, and it’s time for all U.S. companies to do the same. The Humane Cosmetics Act, which was introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives, would prohibit animal testing for all cosmetic products manufactured or sold in the U.S. Please sign and share this petition urging Congress to pass it.

And in the meantime, you can search for companies that don’t test on animals on the Leaping Bunny and PETA websites.

Photo credit: YouTube

151 comments

bob Petermann
bob P3 days ago

Great news thanks

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Maria Papastamatiou

Great news. Will definitely start using L' Oreal products.

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H11 days ago

Interesting. I had never heard of this.

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Lori Hone
Lori Hone11 days ago

great news

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Terri S
Terri S11 days ago

I hope this act passes. I still find it difficult to find Leaping Bunny products in regular drug stores. I've gone down every aisle and checked every product in my local drug store and I've never found anything with the Leaping Bunny logo!!

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Petra Demmers
Petra Demmers11 days ago

Signed! I do use make-up myself, but I always make sure thqt there´s no animal testing involved. No animal should have to suffer for my "beauty" products!!

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Carl R
Carl R11 days ago

Thanks!!!

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Connie B
Connie B12 days ago

signed! That's great news! I use products only form the list of leaping bunny.

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Henriette M

Petition signed! Animals feel pain as we human do. Spare them the pain & death afterwards.

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Karen H
Karen H12 days ago

Too many people reading the headline and praising L'Oreal without doing a little research.

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