Testing cosmetics on animals
Cosmetic testing on animals is a type of animal testing used to test the safety and hypoallergenic properties of products for use by humans. Due to the harm done to the animal subjects, this testing is opposed by animal rights activists and others. Cosmetic animal testing is banned in the European Union, India, Israel, and Norway.
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Using animal testing in the development of cosmetics may involve testing either a finished product or the individual ingredients of a finished product on animals, often rabbits, as well as mice, rats, and other animals. Cosmetics can be defined as products applied to the body in various ways in order to enhance the body's appearance or to cleanse the body. This includes all hair products, makeup, nail products and soaps.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to endorse animal testing methods.
Re-using existing test data obtained from previous animal testing is generally not considered to be cosmetic testing on animals; however, the acceptability of this to opponents of testing is inversely proportional to how recent the data is.
Methods of testing cosmetics on animals include many different tests that are categorized differently based on which areas the cosmetics will be used for. One new ingredient in any cosmetic product used in these tests could lead to the deaths of at least 1,400 animals
Dermal penetration: Rats are mostly used in this method that analyzes moment of a chemical, and the penetration of the chemical in the bloodstream. Dermal penetration is a method that creates a better understanding of skin absorption.
Skin sensitisation: This is a method that determines if a chemical causes an allergic reaction. The chemical adjuvant is injected to boost the immune system. In the past it was performed on guinea pigs, and applied on a shaved patch of skin. Substances are assessed based on appearance of skin.
Acute toxicity: This test is used to determine danger of exposure to a chemical by mouth, skin, or inflammation. Rats and mice are injected in lethal dose 50% (LD50). This test can cause animal convulsions, loss of motor function, and seizures.
Draize test: This is a method of testing that may cause irritation or corrosion to the skin or eye on animals, dermal sensitization, airway sensitization, endocrine disruption, and LD50 (which refers to the lethal dose which kills 50% of the treated animals).
Skin corrosivity or irritation: This method of test assesses the potential of a substance causing irreversible damage to the skin. It is typically performed on rabbits and involves putting chemicals on a shaved patch of skin. This determines the level of damage to the skin that includes itching, inflammation, swelling, etc.
Cosmetics manufacturers who do not test on animals may now use in vitro screens to test for endpoints which can determine potential risk to humans with a very high sensitivity and specificity. Companies such as CeeTox in the USA, recently acquired by Cyprotex, specialize in such testing and organizations like the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), PETA and many other organizations advocate the use of in vitro and other non-animal tests in the development of consumer products. By using safe ingredients from a list of 5,000 which have already been tested in conjunction with modern methods of cosmetics testing, the need for tests using animals are negated.
EpiSkin™, EpiDerm™ and SkinEthic are each composed of artificial human skin as an option for alternative testing. Artificial skin can imitate the reaction actual human skin will have to a product and the chemicals it contains and can be altered to mimic different skin types and ages. For example, using UV light on EpiSkin can cause it to resemble older skin and adding melanocytes will turn the skin a darker color. This helped create a spectrum of different skin colors that are then used to compare the results of sunblock on a different variety of people. To address potential issues with other parts of the human body, research companies such as NOTOX have developed a synthetic model of the human liver, which is the main organ to detox the body, in order to test harmful ingredients and chemicals to see if the liver can detox those elements. Research companies can also use body parts and organs taken from animals slaughtered for the meat industry to perform tests such as the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Test and Isolated Chicken Eye Test.
In 1937, a mistake was made that ended up changing the pharmaceutical industry drastically. A company created a medicine “to treat streptococcal infections”, and without any scientific research the medicine was out on shelves. This medicine turned out to be extremely poisonous to people, leading to large poisoning outbreaks followed by over 100 deaths. This epidemic led to a law being passed in 1938, called the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, enforcing more rigorous guidelines on cosmetic products. After this law was passed companies looked to animals to test their products, in turn, creating the first encounters of cosmetic animal testing.
- Cruelty Free International: Cruelty Free International and its partners manage the certification of all the companies across the world looking to be cruelty free. Companies producing beauty and household products which do not test their products on animals for any market can request membership of The Leaping Bunny Program, which allows that company to feature Cruelty Free International's Leaping Bunny logo on their products. This program sets global standard of operations and sales. Companies headquartered internationally can obtain certification from Cruelty Free International. Companies headquartered in the United States and Canada can obtain certification from The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) In 2013, over 500 companies were certified. However, some company's certifications were revoked after it was discovered they continued to test on animals in Asia.
- Humane Society International: This is a global animal protection organization that works to help all animals—including animals in laboratories.
Procedures of animal testing
There is a strategy used in animal testing laboratories titled the 'Three R's:' Reduction, refinement, and replacement' (Doke, "Alternatives to Animal Testing: A Review").
- Reduction: This approach is built upon the ethics to have a minimal number of animal subjects being tested on for current and later tests.
- Refinement: This suggests that the planned distress and pain caused to an animal subject to be as little as possible. This approach focuses on making a home for the animals before entering testing grounds in order to elongate the life of laboratory animals. Discomfort to animals causes an imbalance in hormonal levels which create fluctuating results during testing.
- Replacement: This provides the opportunity to study the response of cellular models, but in other words, replacement searches for alternatives that could be done rather than testing on animal subjects.
Legal requirements and status
Due to the strong public backlash against cosmetic testing on animals, most cosmetic manufacturers say their products are not tested on animals. However, they are still required by trading standards and consumer protection laws in most countries to show their products are not toxic and not dangerous to public health, and that the ingredients are not dangerous in large quantities, such as when in transport or in the manufacturing plant. In some countries, it is possible to meet these requirements without any further tests on animals. In other countries, it may require animal testing to meet legal requirements. The United States and Japan are frequently criticized for their insistence on stringent safety measures, which often requires animal testing. Some retailers distinguish themselves in the marketplace by their stance on animal testing.
Legal requirements in Japan
Although Japanese law doesn’t require non-medicated cosmetics to be tested on animals, it doesn’t prohibit it either, leaving the decision to individual companies. Animal testing is required mainly when the product contains newly-developed tar colors, ultraviolet ray protective ingredients or preservatives, and when the amount of any ingredient regulated in terms of how much can be added is increased.
Jurisdictions with bans
Brazil, São Paulo
São Paulo in Brazil, banned cosmetic animal testing in 2014.
The European Union (EU) followed suit, after it agreed to phase in a near-total ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics throughout the EU from 2009, and to ban cosmetics-related animal testing. Animal testing is regulated in EC Regulation 1223/2009 on cosmetics. Imported cosmetics ingredients tested on animals were phased out for EU consumer markets in 2013 by the ban, but can still be sold to outside of the EU. Norway banned cosmetics animal testing the same time as the EU. In May 2018 the European Parliament voted for the EU and its Member States to work towards a UN convention against the use of animal testing for cosmetics.
European Free Trade Association
In early 2014, India announced a ban on testing cosmetics on animals in the country, thereby becoming the second country in Asia to do so. Later India banned import of cosmetics tested on animals in November 2014.
Jurisdictions where prohibitions are considered
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is potentially "making strides toward ending cosmetics testing on animals."
In Australia, the End Cruel Cosmetics Bill was introduced to Parliament in March 2014, which would ban local testing, which generally doesn't happen there, and importation of cosmetics tested on animals. In 2016 a bill was passed to ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, which came into effect in July 2017.
In March 2014, the Humane Cosmetics Act was introduced to the U.S. congress which would ban cosmetic testing on animals and eventually would ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. The bill did not advance.
China passed a law on 30 June 2014 to eliminate the requirement for animal testing of cosmetics. Though domestically-produced ordinary cosmetic goods do not require testing, animal testing is still mandated by law for Chinese-made "cosmeceuticals" (cosmetic goods which make a functional claim) which are available for sale in China. Cosmetics intended solely for export are exempt from the animal testing requirement. As of March 2019, post-market testing (i.e. tests on cosmetics after they hit the market) for finished imported and domestically produced cosmetic products will no longer require animal testing.
In 2013, the Russian Ministry of Health stated "Toxicological testing is performed by means of testing for skin allergic reaction or test on mucous tissue/eye area (with use of lab animals) or by use of alternative general toxicology methods (IN VITRO). In this manner the technical regulations include measures which provide an alternative to animal testing".
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