Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful

tests to determine the safety of cosmetics. Substances such as eye

shadow and soap are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and

other animals, despite the fact that the test results don t help

prevent or treat human illness or injury.

Cosmetics are not required to be tested on animals and since

non-animal alternatives exist, it s hard to understand why some

companies still continue to conduct these tests. Cosmetic companies

kill millions of animals every year to try to make a profit.

According to the companies that perform these tests, they are done to

establish the safety of a product and the ingredients. However, the

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetic products,

does not require animal testing. Some of the tests used on animals are

eye irritancy tests, acute toxicity tests, and skin irritancy tests.

In eye irritancy tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered

substance is dropped into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. The

animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads

protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests.

After placing the substance into the rabbits eyes, lab technicians

record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over an

average period of 72 hours. The tests sometimes last seven to eighteen

days. Reactions to the substances include swollen eyelids,

ulceration, bleeding, swollen irises massive deterioration, and

blindness. During the tests, rabbits eyelids are usually held open

with clips, because of this, many animals try to break their necks as

they try to escape.

Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning

tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a

percentage, even up to one-hundred percent, of a group of test

animals. In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the

animals stomach or through holes cut in their throats. Experimenters

observe the animals reactions which can include convulsions, labored

breathing, malnutrition, skin eruptions, and bleeding from the eyes,

nose, or mouth. The test was developed in 1927 and the testing

continues until at least fifty percent of the animals die (usually

takes 2-4 weeks). Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are

unreliable and have too many variables to have a constant result.

Skin irritancy tests are conducted on rabbits, guinea pigs and

other animals. The process involves placing chemicals on the animals

raw, shaved skin and covering the skin with adhesive plaster. The

animals are immobilized in restraining devices to prevent them from

struggling. Meanwhile, laboratory workers apply the chemicals

which burn into the animals skin.

Alternatives to cosmetic testing are less expensive and

generally more reliable to perform. Animals have different biological

systems than humans therefore the tests can t be as accurate as the

current tests. Some alternatives include cell cultures, tissue

cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and

mathematical models. Companies can also devise a formula using

ingredients already proven safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of methods to

ensure the safety of a product.

Lobbying by animal welfare groups has resulted in federal,

state, and local legislation severely restricting animal

experimentation. For example, under the U.S. Animal welfare act, all

animals used in biomedical research must be bought from vendors

licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA inspects

laboratories where animals are used and enforces federal laws

regarding treatment and care of the animals. Biomedical scientists

have also taken action to prevent the abuse of the animals, mostly

because abused animals may not provide reliable data. The American

Physiological Society, the National Institutes of Health, and many

other scientific organizations have joined to lay down guidelines for

the use and treatment of experimental animals. Now, there are also

many universities with animal welfare committees.

In the United States survey by the American Medical

Association, it was found that 75 percent of Americans are against

using animals in cosmetic testing. Hundreds of companies have

responded by switching to animal-friendly test methods. To help put an

end to animal testing, people can stop buying products that were

tested on animals. You can also call and write to these companies, or

write to your congressional representative about the alternatives that

can be used.

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