All cosmetics, personal care and household cleaning products, or their ingredients, are tested for safety before they are sold. Testing on animals is one method that involves putting laboratory animals through very painful procedures, and ultimately killing them.
A common test is to drop chemicals into rabbits' eyes. This can cause painful redness, irritation, infection and blindness. Skin tests are done by shaving an area of fur off the back of the animal and applying chemicals. This can cause painful irritation, rash, infection and bleeding. These animals are raised solely for the purpose of being tested on, and can be kept in lab cages their whole life. After testing, some can be kept alive for future tests, but ultimately all lab animals are killed and discarded, often long before their natural lifespan.
This 2 minute video by PETA explains cosmetic animal testing. WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.
Animal testing is not the most effective way to determine product safety, as there are now many modern alternative methods available to companies. These include using cell and tissue cultures and sophisticated computer modelling, which can produce more reliable results, more cost effectively. Also, companies can choose to formulate new products using ingredients already known to be safe.
If we purchase animal tested products, we financially contribute to the unnecessary suffering and death of those animals, and we signal to these companies that future animal testing is ok.
There is a huge range of cruelty free cosmetics, personal care and house hold cleaning products available today. Check for signs on labels like 'Not Tested On Animals' and 'Cruelty Free', but be aware however that some cruelty free labels only mean that the final product was not tested on animals, and that the ingredients might still have been. Leaping Bunny certified companies do not test their final products on animals and do not use ingredients tested on animals. Just make sure the ingredients do not include any animal products like milk, honey, gelatin or bees wax.
Purchasing these products and supporting cruelty free companies is a great way to reduce and eventually eliminate animal testing.
The Leaping Bunny List of Cruelty Free Certified Companies is a useful reference.
The One Green Planet list of common animal products in cosmetics is a useful reference.
The PETA List of Animal Derived Ingredients is a useful reference.