For centuries, animals have been treated as nothing but property, until today. Animals have domesticated themselves right into our hearts and homes. However, I bet if you took a shower today, you would never know that the products you used were tested first for safety by animals. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “hundreds of thousands of mice, rats, and rabbits undergo testing each year to determine the safety of products like lipstick, shampoo, and mascara.”
An article by Kari Paul, “How Fake Skin Will End Animal Testing,” says cosmetics have routinely been tested by rubbing the product onto shaved skin of animal subjects, which were likely killed shortly after the test. U.S. law does not require animal testing for cosmetics, but it does not prohibit it either.
The one thing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics (FDC) Act does state is that products must be safe before they go on the market. Ironically, this law was passed in the early 40’s, due to the tragedies that occurred after some products that tested well on animals caused many to go blind, or even caused death in humans. Almost everyone is familiar with the Thalidomide disaster which was extensively tested on rabbits, and released as safe, only to cause multiple and severe deformities and missing limbs. The reason for these deaths and mutations, and the surrounding controversy, is simply because the animals being tested on do not react the same way human beings would, according to Health Research Funding.
The Animal Welfare Act was implemented in the late 60’s to protect certain animals from cruel treatment during testing, however, that act does not cover the 90% of animals actually tested on, including rats, guinea pigs, and mice.
One of the biggest reasons for the support of animal testing is that the treatments developed such as penicillin and insulin have helped saved many lives. Yet, one of the biggest problems with animal testing is that it has gone on for years, which some believe, is way too long. On the bright side, the number is growing in the amount of companies steering clear of animal testing for cosmetics, and embracing alternative methods. The cruelty-free certification program, Leaping Bunny, has certified over 600 companies across the world for being animal-free in their product testing according to the Humane Society.
One of the alternative methods to animal testing has just recently been developed in the form of “3D bioprinting Episkin” according to Kari Paul. The Episkin is comprised of tissue donated by plastic surgery patients and grown into an artificial skin using a “collagen matrix” says Paul. The Episkin is a model of reconstructed skin used to test products on since it is nearly identical to actual skin.
L’Oreal is one of the biggest companies testing products on Episkin and no longer using animal subjects. Less than two years ago, L’Oreal announced it would “completely eliminate the testing of its products on animals.” That same year, the European Union announced a complete ban on all animal testing for products sold in the EU according to the article. America is finally catching up with the EU by announcing the Humane Cosmetics Act- a bill recently introduced to the House of Representatives. The bill is supported by countless celebrities and over 140 cosmetic companies. It is designed to eliminate animal testing of products, and the sale of animal-tested products in the United States.