Bunny-free Beauty: A Look at Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

By Christine Harris

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Photo courtesy of USFWS.

Is our vanity worth the suffering of other living creatures? Though there is no doubt that safety should be ensured before a new product enters the market, modern science has provided effective testing methods that do not require the use of live animals for cosmetics tests. Many of the most widely-used cosmetics in the United States are tested on animals and it can be difficult to find products that are cruelty-free.

Fortunately PETA has amassed a searchable database of over 1300 cruelty-free cosmetics companies. You can also use the database to find companies that do test on animals.  Unfortunately many well-known cosmetics brands test on animals including Maybelline, Revlon, Johnson & Johnson and Proctor and Gamble, owners of Covergirl.  At first glance finding mainstream, drugstore brands that are cruelty-free may seem like a difficult task, but many well-known brands like Aveda, Paul Mitchell, e.l.f., wet n wild, the Body Shop and Physician’s Formula have all jumped on the cruelty-free bandwagon.

When compared to recent progress made by other countries in limiting and banning cosmetic testing on animals, the United States is lagging behind. In 2013 Israel banned the sale of all animal-tested cosmetics. In South Korea the government invested more than $150 million to establish a non-animal testing center for medicated cosmetics such as sunscreens and anti-wrinkle creams.

A new policy to take effect in China in June of 2014 will no longer require that cosmetics and other personal care products be tested on animals before they can be sold to the public.  Now the sale of non-animal-tested “non-specialized cosmetics” produced in China, including soap, shampoo, and some skin-care products, will be permitted as long as the ingredients in those products have already been deemed safe through past testing or are tested using European Union (EU) methods of non-animal testing.  The EU, which currently has 27 member nations, is at the forefront of cruelty-free cosmetics, banning the import and sale of cosmetics that include ingredients tested on animals in 2013. Also in 2013, India became the first Asian country to ban animal testing of cosmetics within its borders.

There is hope that similar strides will soon be made in the United States through the Humane Cosmetics Act. Introduced on March 4, 2014 by Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virgina, the Humane Cosmetics Act would make it illegal for anyone to conduct or commission cosmetic animal testing in the US. It would also prohibit the sale or transport of any cosmetics tested on animals or cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals in interstate commerce.

Modern science has contributed a number of well-developed, non-animal tests for cosmetic products.  With these new methods available the use of animals as test subjects is becoming unnecessary and obsolete.

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One thought on “Bunny-free Beauty: A Look at Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

  1. Great article. I really see no reason to test mascara or lipstick or other cosmetics on animals. We’ve had these products for some time and even though the formulas have evolved, we still have a good idea of how to make safe cosmetics products.

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