Cosmetics industry must come clean on animal testing
Have you ever gotten shampoo in your eyes? Stings, doesn't it? Or applied perfume to broken skin? Or even accidentally breathed in hairspray? Your skin hurts, your throat burns.
Now imagine you're a rabbit, guinea pig, or a rat in a cosmetics testing laboratory and these aren't relatively mild finished products, but raw chemicals.
Animal testing is the ugly secret that the beauty industry would prefer consumers didn't know about. But the truth is, every time you buy a cosmetic product manufactured by a company that tests on animals, or uses animal-tested ingredients, you're paying for animals' suffering.
Now, however, everything has changed: the European Union has strengthened its 2009 ban on animal testing for beauty products by stopping companies from selling cosmetics that have been newly animal-tested anywhere in the world.
The EU ban has been a priority for the lobbying group Humane Society International (HSI). Ricky Gervais wore one of its tattoos; Leona Lewis sent a Valentine's card to the EU commissioner of health; nearly half-a-million EU citizens signed a petition of support.
Never before has there been a stronger incentive for cosmetics companies to quit testing on animals. The EU is the largest beauty products market in the world, so companies must decide if missing out on EU sales is worth unnecessary animal testing.
The industry has reached a fork in the road. Both paths lead to the same destination – a cruelty-free future – because replacing outdated, unreliable and unethical animal tests with modern science is only a matter of time.
The only question is: how quickly will the industry get there? Without doubt, the ripple effect is already evident.
Recently, major Japanese cosmetic brand Shiseido announced it will cease virtually all animal testing in direct response to the EU sales ban. Many others are expected to follow its lead.
To that end, HSI is working to replicate the EU ban in India, Brazil, Korea, Russia, Canada and beyond. Last year, on World Day for Animals in Laboratories, for example, it launched Be Cruelty-Free – the largest-ever global campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics.
Such progress towards achieving a world where no animal has to suffer and die for the sake of cosmetics is encouraging.
But we'd get there faster if the world's cosmetics companies collectively decided to simply stop putting animals through needless suffering.
This is a compassionate standard that all companies can and should adopt immediately – not just for their EU-bound product lines, but globally.
Additionally, for a company to be genuinely cruelty-free it cannot sell in China, where new animal testing is often legally required.
Political and scientific outreach in China is a must, but it is undeniable that the more cosmetics companies that stop selling in China, the faster non-animal tests will replace animal-based methods in the country's regulations.
Even so, all cosmetics companies could immediately abandon animal testing by using the many thousands of existing cosmetic ingredients with histories of safe use, together with modern, non-animal test methods that produce the most reliable, fastest and cheapest results.
It's that simple.
Companies always have a choice.
So as they stand at this new fork in the road, cosmetic companies need to answer one simple question: when will you choose to stop testing on animals?