Come Clean: Ending Cosmetics Skin Irritation and Corrosion Tests on Animals
Thousands of rabbits suffer excruciating skin irritation and corrosion tests for cosmetic products and their ingredients each year. But non-animal alternatives—which are, faster, more accurate, and can be cheaper—are already widely available. No cosmetic ingredient or product is required by law to be tested on animals and the skin irritation and corrosion tests are no exception, but companies may choose to conduct them.
Animal Use in Cosmetics Skin Irritation and Corrosion Tests
Skin irritation and corrosion tests involve placing chemicals on an animal’s skin to test for rash, inflammation, lesions, or other signs of skin damage. A chemical is applied to the shaved, bare skin of the restrained rabbit and left for four hours. The skin is then observed for up to 14 days for irritation, which is reversible damage, or corrosion, which is irreversible skin damage.
But these painful tests are not the most effective way to test cosmetics. Each species reacts differently to substances, so animal tests do not accurately predict how a chemical will affect human skin.
Non-animal testing methods are essential for public health because they more accurately predict the way a human will respond to an ingredient or product. Reconstructed human skin models—grown in the laboratory from skin cells left over from surgeries—can mimic the potential dangers a new cosmetic or personal care product might pose to human skin more accurately than animal tests.
The European Union’s ban on animal-tested ingredients and products went into effect March 11, 2013. The marketing, import, and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients will no longer be legal in the EU. Congratulations to Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., PCRM’s director of regulatory testing issues, and Aryenish Birdie, PCRM’s regulatory testing policy coordinator, who have spent years rallying support for the ban that will save the lives of countless rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats who suffer and die each year for cosmetics testing.
Last year, nearly 25,000 letters from EU residents and people around the world were delivered to the European Commission. The letters called on the EC to maintain its 2013 deadline for a ban on the marketing of cosmetic products tested on animals.
This ban follows Israel’s Jan. 1 ban that no longer allows the import and marketing of cosmetics, toiletries, or detergents that were tested on animals.
Now we must work on the United States. All of the companies pictured above use animal testing. Please do not buy products from these companies. Speak with your purchase power.