Upscale Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido announced that it will stop testing products on animals because there are adequate alternative methods of conducting tests, and because the European Union has banned animal testing on cosmetics. It is joining the ranks of companies like Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and The Body Shop, which eschew animal testing and even fight actively to end it.
Shiseido’s decision results from three trends, though its press release mentions only two:
1. alternatives to animal testing are excellent and continue to improve
2. the European Union, Israel, and other countries ban trade in cosmetics that have been tested on animals
3. popular opinion opposes animal testing of cosmetics
The first factor is what animal advocates have been saying for years: there are alternatives to vivisection — better, more reliable alternatives — so there is no need to torture animals so people can have more lipstick.
Second, companies cannot sell animal-tested products as more countries ban them. The European Union, for instance, voted to ban vivisection for cosmetics back in 2009, effective this year.
Third (and this is the one Shiseido didn’t mention), consumers oppose animal testing. A survey from February 2013 found that overwhelming numbers of people do not want their cosmetics tested on animals.
A nationwide poll conducted by Lake Research Partners found that 67 percent of American voters oppose testing cosmetics on animals.
Three in four voters say that they would feel safer, or as safe, if non-animal methods were used to test the safety of a cosmetic instead of animal testing.
Women, who are the major consumers of cosmetics, largely oppose animal testing of cosmetics, with 72 percent of those polled opposed.
Most women — 70 percent — think animal testing of cosmetics should be illegal.
Some companies that used to oppose animal testing reversed themselves in order to sell their products in China, which requires it. Urban Decay is a notable example because in the past it had prominently advertised its strong opposition to animal testing. The company justified the switch with the argument that change must come from within, so it could more effectively fight against Chinese animal testing by being inside the Chinese market. Then it flip-flopped again and is back to not testing on animals. Bonus: its products are vegan too.
Other companies are making the same change. A certification that products are not tested on animals called Leaping Bunny has rescinded its seal of approval from L’Occitane, Yves Rocher, Caudalie, and Mary Kay, all of which have apparently resumed testing on animals.
Testing cosmetics on animals is much more sinister than it sounds. It doesn’t mean giving rabbits and guinea pigs a makeover. It means torturing and then killing them.
The LD50 test, for instance, involves dosing animals with larger and larger amounts of a substance to determine what quantity kills 50% of the subjects (what that proves is beyond me). In a Draize test, researchers pour a substance into rabbits’ eyes (the rabbits’ are confined with just their heads poking out of the constraints, sort of like old timey village square stocks) to find out what it does to them, from some swelling all the way to death. Even pregnant animals are subject to painful tests so researchers can observe the damage to their fetuses.
Animal testing on cosmetics is cruel and useless compared to some of the cruelty-free alternative tests available. Take the extra step when you are shopping to make sure that your cosmetics did not cause the torture of sentient beings. Look for the Leaping Bunny logo on packaging, which has the most stringent requirements; next best is PETA’s “cruelty free” bunny. Consumer choices matter quite a bit to cosmetics companies, so let’s send them the loudest message possible that animal testing is not okay.
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