Humans and animals: both beings that feel pain and have a soul. What separates humans and animals that makes animals subject to, often deathly, laboratory testing? Activists around the world have used the same basic concept to plead their cause for years. Many countries and brands have already banned cosmetic animal testing, but the US has yet to make laws to eliminate it. Although the results of medical animal testing save thousands of lives every year, cosmetic animal testing should be banned because there are better alternatives, it is inhumane and scientifically unreliable.
There are two different sectors of animal testing; cosmetic and medical. Animals such as rabbits and mice are used to determine if the products and medicines we use are safe for our skin, and bodies and if they irritate certain allergies. Soaps, makeup, creams, etc. are examples of products that are roughly rubbed or dropped into the eyes of helpless animals. In pictures you can see the hard truth behind products we use every day; animals with their eyes bleeding that often end up dying. Medicine is another area of animal testing. Most of the FDA-approved drugs on the market go through a set of tests before they are released for human use. Nearly every significant medical breakthrough in the past century is thanks to animal testing.
Many major cosmetics brands such as Lush, Dove, and Fenty Beauty have turned away from animal testing, which means it is possible for every brand to do. Scientists have created alternatives that yield the same result, and often with better odds. SkinEthic is one example of a sort of ‘fake skin’ model that has been created and helps companies get the same answers about the products they are searching for. These skin models are also reusable, whereas an animal can only be used once. Handling the animals is also expensive and a burden to coordinate. There are also studies that can be done with real human cells and tissues, and complex computer research that is also reliable. Human volunteers are often an option as well. In many common commercials, you see people being asked to try soaps and shampoos to compare their quality. This sort of test also happens behind closed doors for potential products. Because of modern technology and human participation, a world without animal testing is truly within our reach.
There is really no good argument against the statement that animal testing is inhumane. Chemicals are dripped into the animal’s eyes and often result in major side effects such as death, going blind, or losing their hearing. Creams and lotions are rubbed, and not gently, into their eyes as well. Sometimes their skin is shaved in order to perform these irritation tests. These animals are given no pain relief even though they are made of pain-sensing receptors extremely similar to those of humans. This is all for the purpose of makeup and cosmetic products, nothing that has groundbreaking effects on the human world.
A relatively unknown fact about animal testing in medicine is how unreliable it actually is. Upwards of ninety percent of drugs approved for testing in humans by animal research are not approved for human use. Every year millions of hospital visits are the result of some of the lethal adverse effects in humans caused by drugs that have been approved. Hundreds of thousands of these hospital visits are ended in fatalities. These drugs end up being removed from the shelves, but most of the time there has already been significant amounts of damage done. There are many saga stories of drugs being released that end up causing major problems such as birth defects. All of these drugs go through extensive animal testing and are deemed safe for humans. It is expensive to go through the process of handling the animals, and it sometimes ends up hurting humans. Where is the line?
Unreliability is often common in cosmetic animal testing as well. Less than a fourth of cosmetics tested to give accurate data about human side effects they are being tested to show. It is also interesting to know that alternatives to animal testing are around eighty percent effective. There is hard evidence to prove that not only are the alternatives much more humane, but they are also more accurate.
There is a plentiful amount of cosmetic brands that have made the switch for the better. In the past few years, social media has brought attention to the matter and helped influence many companies to make the change. Among celebrities, it is sort of ‘trendy’ to promote brands that do not use animal testing. When a celebrity is endorsing a product via Instagram or Twitter it is common to see them emphasize the fact that the product is free of animal testing in order to support the cause. Along with brands, even many countries have banned animal testing. Countries like Europe prosper with no harm done to innocent animals. The US has been slow to make any laws against it. There are a few in place, but they only contain petty restrictions that often end up being violated regardless.
Although a respectable amount of countries and brands have supposedly banned animal testing worldwide, there are many loopholes in the system that make this statement flawed. You may purchase a mascara in a cruelty-free country such as Europe, but this purchase will often support animal testing of the same product in other parts of the world such as China. In China animal testing is required in order for the product to end up on shelves, so the same brand that sells cruelty-free products in one country will often still sell their products in countries where animal testing is mandatory. Some brands remain consistent and do not sell to these markets, but their products are often illegally purchased and resold. There is little companies can do about this, but they have pressed for conditions to change. In a country with size like China, any change that is made has a huge impact immediately. Many bigger companies may soil their cruelty-free practices by selling in countries where animal testing is required, but we can look to those that remain faithful to their values to set an example worldwide.
Organizations like PETA and Cruelty-Free International encourage everyone to take a stand against animal testing. By boycotting brands that are not 100% cruelty-free and raising your voice against them, they claim you are helping the cause. LUSH cosmetics once did a very controversial and extreme display: they hired some actors to display what it is like behind closed laboratory doors. The display was graphic and hard to watch. Although it achieved its goal of bringing attention to the matter, many were left bothered by the experiment and considered it too extreme. Organizations orchestrate peaceful protests more often than extreme ones. It is common to see pictures in the news of these events. Protestors make signs, and sometimes bring animals to rally along with them. Together they shout chants and pass out flyers to people passing by.
Our country is full of people who love their pets and would do anything for them, but many of these people do not realize that some of the products they use every day harm animals just like the ones they love. Technological alternatives are too advanced and trustworthy to ignore; it is time the US outlaws cosmetic animal testing for good.