The Food and Drug Administration requires that all drugs be tested on animals but there is no law that mandates the testing of household cleaning products or cosmetics on animals. Cruelty free skin care products are those that have not been tested on animals by manufacturers but are not necessarily vegan or organic.
It is difficult to determine how many animals are used in cosmetics testing annually because companies are not required to maintain records for all animals, but estimates are generally in the millions. Common cosmetics experiments on animals include forcibly pumping a product into an animal’s stomach, dropping or spraying a product into the eyes, rubbing a product into the skin and compelling an animal to inhale a spray. A cruelty free skin care product manufacturer pledges to avoid such experimentation on animals. The effectiveness of such experiments is questioned by animal rights activists who argue that in addition to the suffering endured by the animal subjects, the experiments only demonstrate a product’s or ingredient’s toxicity to the specific animal or species it was tested on.
Cruelty free skin care manufacturers use alternative methods for determining the safety of products. In many cases, alternative testing methods are more accurate and cost effective than animal experimentation. Complex computer models, human skin and cell tissue cultures and even corneas from eye banks are effective alternatives to animal testing because they provide results that are more specific to humans than animals like rabbits, mice, birds, cats and dogs. Proponents of animal testing argue that alternative methods are not as effective as testing on animals. Companies that use organic or natural ingredients exclusively in cruelty free skin care products can avoid testing completely.
Cosmetics testing on animals has been banned in many European countries. Consumers that wish to purchase cruelty free skin care and other cruelty free, vegan or organic products can find information on company websites and lists of cruelty free companies online. Informed consumers can make purchasing decisions that best reflect individual values. Purchasing cruelty free skin care products is one way to discourage manufacturers from engaging in animal testing.
For those looking to purchase products that have not come in contact with any animals during its manufacturing process may need to dig deeper beyond just a cruelty free product label. While the final product may not have been tested on animals, suppliers may have tested a specific ingredient on animals that was then used by the manufacturer to make the final product. In addition, cruelty free companies may be owned by a parent company that does test its other products on animals.