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 companiesdo. 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


Peggy B
Peggy Babout a year ago


Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a year ago


Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago

Very good, tks.

Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Very cool! When will these products be available?

Cindy S
Cindy Sabout a year ago


Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania P
Melania P1 years ago

Great news, but with the technology we have and the money they have this should have started years ago. Poor animals: you consumers have the power. Is it so hard to read a label and not buy cosmetics that tests on animals?

bob Petermann
bob petertmann2 years ago

Great news thanks

Maria Papastamatiou

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

Jennifer H
Jennifer H2 years ago

Interesting. I had never heard of this.