Myths If a product says “Cruelty-Free” or has a bunny on it, that means it has not been tested on animals.
Facts This is simply not true as the devil is often in the details. Designation as “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals,” or even the image of a bunny on a label may only refer to the finished product, when in fact, most animal testing occurs at the ingredient level. Furthermore, while a company may claim, “We do not test on animals,” it could still contract other companies to do the testing. The only way to be 100% certain a company is cruelty-free is to buy products from companies that have been certified by the Leaping Bunny Program, which requires that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers.
Myths The law requires animal testing to be conducted on personal care and cosmetics products.
Facts 100% false. Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission require animal testing for cosmetics or household products. There are sufficient existing safety data as well as in vitro alternatives to make animal testing for these products obsolete. While it is true that virtually every ingredient, even water, has been tested on animals in the past, we can help prevent future animal testing.
Myths If a product isn’t tested on animals, it might not be safe for humans.
Facts Not so! There are many reliable alternatives to using animals available, including cell and tissue cultures and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe. Cruelty-free companies can use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as employing in vitro tests and/or conducting clinical studies on humans.
More Cruelty Free Facts
- A company is able to write “not tested on animals” on their products if the finished product is not tested on animals.
- There are no restrictions regarding specific ingredients. A company is able to test a products individual ingredient, or get a third party to manufacture/provide/test a products individual ingredient on animals
- Companies can maintain their stance on no animal testing, however the parent company that owns them, may test other company’s products and ingredients on animals.
- New laws have recently passed in China stating that all cosmetics being sold in the country MUST be tested on animals. These products must be tested on animals, even if they are not legally required to test their products on animals in any other global market.
- Did you know that in Australia, it is ILLEGAL to test a company’s product on animals? Did you know that a company is still legally allowed to employ a third party overseas to still test their product on animals?
- Did you know that the EU have put into place a ban on animal testing for all cosmetic products and their ingredients? Did you know that the EU has made March 2013 the final deadline for this ban- meaning all retailers in Europe will be selling cosmetic products that are free from animal testing?
- Remember that the cosmetics and beauty industry is just that- an industry. A billion-dollar industry. Animal testing is itself an industry. Breeders, transportation companies, laboratories, professional equipment, animal handlers and research staff… The animal testing industry generates millions of dollars of revenue. These industries are powerful. But there are alternatives and they have proven to be successful. And these alternatives do not cause harm to innocent animals who do not deserve to suffer for the sake of our vanity.
We estimate that approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer and die just for cosmetics every year around the world. These are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice. While dogs and monkeys are never used to test cosmetics anywhere in the world, they are used to test other types of chemicals.
Typically, animal tests for cosmetics include skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits; repeated oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards, such as cancer or birth defects; and even widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death. These tests can cause considerable pain and distress including blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding and organ damage, birth defects, convulsions and death. Pain relief is not provided and at the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.
Almost without exception, companies have a choice about whether or not to test on animals. In the majority of cases, animal tests continue because some companies insist on developing and using “new” ingredients. These are ingredients that don’t have existing safety data—because they’re new! So new safety data has to be generated to satisfy the regulators before a product can go on sale, and that means new animal testing.
Why can’t they just use non-animal test methods? Well, they can for many of the test requirements because there are many superior non-animal tests available. But there aren’t non-animal test methods available yet for every single test area that needs to be performed for new ingredients. That’s because for so many years the development of non-animal tests simply hasn’t been seen as a priority, and developing new non-animal methods takes time. We’ll get there for sure, but we’re not there yet. So where there are test gaps, animal tests are performed.
If companies simply stuck to using the many thousands of existing cosmetic ingredients available, they would never have to animal test. That’s how cruelty-free companies work!
Animal testing also continues in the cosmetics industry because of convention—that’s the way it’s always been done, animal tests are familiar even if they’re flawed. Regulators, whose job it is to approve cosmetics for use, tend to be very conservative in their approach and can delay approving a product if the manufacturer provides safety data based on unfamiliar non-animal test methods. HSI works with companies and regulators to increase their understanding and acceptance of modern non-animal test methods.
Some companies claim that they have to test on animals because they sell their products in countries like China where animal testing is still required by law for companies importing into the country. But this isn’t really true. They have chosen to sell in China knowing that to do so will mean new animal testing. Truly cruelty-free companies such as LUSH and Paul Mitchell have pledge not to sell in China until the animal test law is changed.
Yes, animal tests have well-known scientific limitations because different species can respond differently from each other (and importantly, differently from people) when exposed to the same chemicals. This means that results from animal tests may not be relevant to humans, under- or over-estimating hazards to people. Animal test results can also be quite variable and difficult to interpret. Unreliable and non-predictive animal tests mean consumer safety cannot be guaranteed.
This lack of scientific credibility is hardly surprising since most of these animal tests were first devised back in the 1930s, when we had a very basic and crude understanding of how toxicity works in the body, and we didn’t understand the importance or extent of species differences on test results.
Cosmetics companies can stop animal testing immediately and still produce new, safe and exciting beauty products, simply by manufacturing the cruelty-free way. Companies do this by: Using the thousands of ingredients with a long history of safe use, because these will have existing safety data and require no further testing (animal or otherwise) Making use of a growing number of advanced non-animal safety tests that can better predict how humans will react to chemicals. More than 40 non-animal tests have been validated for use, and these modern alternatives can offer results that are more relevant to people, often more cheaply and quickly, too. That’s because advanced non-animal tests represent the very latest techniques that science has to offer, replacing outdated animal tests that have been around for many decades and haven’t stood the test of time. For example, there are a number of skin tests available that use human reconstructed skin, such as EPISKIN, EpiDerm and SkinEthic, as wells as the 3T3 neutral red uptake test for sunlight-induced “phototoxicity”, and the Bovine Cornea Opacity and Permeability test for eye corrosion. Find out more.
This is the approach used by the 600+ companies certified as cruelty-free under the internationally-recognized Leaping Bunny program. Find out more about cruelty-free companies
Yes. Animal testing for cosmetics has been banned throughout the 28 countries of the European Union since 2009. Thanks in large part to HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign, the EU also banned the sale of cosmetic products or ingredients subject to new animal testing after March 2013. Israel imposed a testing and a sales ban in 2007 and 2013, respectively. And following a vibrant campaign by our #BeCrueltyFree India team, India also introduced a national test ban in 2013. Most recently our #BeCrueltyFree Brazil team congratulated the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo for introducing a complete cosmetics animal testing ban in January 2014, and #BeCrueltyFree New Zealand achieved a national cosmetics animal testing ban in 2015!
However, cosmetics animal testing remains legal in most other countries. Although many countries don’t expressly require such testing, as it is not prohibited it continues to take place at the discretion of cosmetics companies and ingredient suppliers. Thanks to our #BeCrueltyFree campaign teams around the world, we now have legislative bills for a ban under consideration in Australia, Brazil, Taiwan and the United States.
Get involved with these easy actions and help HSI put an end to cosmetics animal cruelty: Sign the global Be Cruelty-Free pledge to show your support for banning animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients.
Shop—buy only from companies that say no to animal testing and to newly developed and animal-tested ingredients. Download your own Leaping Bunny Global Shopping Guide. Contact your favourite brands and urge them to make the leap to cruelty-free. Ask whether the company 1) animal-tests its products or ingredients, 2) purchases newly developed ingredients that have been animal-tested by the supplier, or 3) sells its products to countries like China that may require new animal testing. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, put the product back on the shelf. l, Taiwan and the United States.