Un­be­liev­ably, many brands still do an­i­mal test­ing. Will you make the switch?

Friday - - Contents -

Sev­eral ma­jor cos­metic com­pa­nies still test their prod­ucts on an­i­mals. But there are plenty of al­ter­na­tives.

You may have caught this heart-warm­ing video pop­ping up on your Face­book feed: A squadron of bea­gles ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the out­doors for the very first time. First cau­tiously nos­ing their way out­side, they ten­ta­tively sniff the air, and then, tails wag­ging, bot­toms wig­gling, and ears flap­ping, they launch into the yard. Some stay curled up in their car­rier, fright­ened by the sud­den open space and new smells, while oth­ers can’t sup­port their own body weight, hav­ing never had enough room to be able to stand up and with the lack of ac­tiv­ity leav­ing their leg mus­cles un­de­vel­oped and wast­ing away. Th­ese are not ex­cited pup­pies, out for their first jaunt, but older dogs who have never seen the sky or felt fresh air.

For th­ese for­mer beauty in­dus­try test sub­jects, the tight quar­ters of a cramped cage is the only home they’ve ever known, and a gloved hand hold­ing a sy­ringe the only hu­man con­tact they’ve en­joyed. This par­tic­u­lar video shows the res­cue and re­lease of 156 bea­gles from a Ban­ga­lore cos­met­ics man­u­fac­turer’s lab­o­ra­tory, by the char­ity, Com­pas­sion Un­lim­ited Plus Ac­tion af­ter the group pe­ti­tioned the In­dian gov­ern­ment to refuse the lab’s an­i­mal-test­ing li­cense.

While th­ese pups have moved on to happy homes – the char­ity says it was flooded with thou­sands of adop­tion re­quests – other dogs are less lucky. Along with mon­key, rab­bits, mice, fish and frogs, they’ll live out their days in a clin­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment as a beauty brand’s test sub­ject un­til they have served their as­signed func­tion and are eu­thanised.

The most com­mon tests are skin sen­si­ti­sa­tion, skin ir­ri­ta­tion cor­ro­sion, and eye ir­ri­ta­tion, says Anita Baker, Busi­ness Di­rec­tor of Lush Mid­dle East, a brand that ac­tively cam­paigns against an­i­mal test­ing. ‘The tests gen­er­ally in­volve in­ject­ing the an­i­mals with harm­ful sub­stances, ex­pos­ing them to ra­di­a­tion and other toxic gases, and test­ing their re­ac­tion to drugs and other chem­i­cals... a sci­en­tific ex­per­i­ment that is likely to cause them pain, suf­fer­ing, or long-term harm.’

With man’s best friend con­tin­u­ing to en­dure such bru­tal ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, is there any ben­e­fit to test­ing beauty prod­ucts on an­i­mals? Not at all, says beauty blog­ger Kim­ber­ley Nis­sen, ed­i­tor of The Plas­tic Diaries (the­p­las­tic­di­ ‘Through my work as a beauty writer, I dis­cov­ered what an­i­mal test­ing re­ally meant and I was hor­ri­fied. I then learnt that th­ese bar­baric tests aren’t just cruel, but ac­tu­ally point­less as we have de­vel­oped test­ing pro­to­cols that are more ef­fec­tive with­out us­ing an­i­mals.’

Baker agrees, point­ing out that Lush has suc­cess­fully cre­ated prod­ucts with­out an­i­mal test­ing. ‘We want to show the world that it is pos­si­ble to in­vent, man­u­fac­ture and bring to mar­ket a range of prod­ucts that ad­here to all the le­gal safety re­quire­ments, with­out ever hav­ing to test on an­i­mals along the way,’ she ex­plains. Baker says that al­ter­na­tives in­clude 21st Cen­tury Tox­i­col­ogy (21CT), which fo­cuses on tox­i­c­ity path­ways as an al­ter­na­tive to an­i­mal test­ing and ob­serv­ing hu­man cells to test out new prod­ucts, both of which the an­nual Lush Prize con­trib­utes re­search funds to­wards.


While the Euro­pean Union banned the de­vel­op­ment and sale of an­i­mal-tested cos­met­ics and other beauty prod­ucts in 2009, coun­tries out­side of still al­low an­i­mal test­ing, and in the case of China, man­date it. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment re­quires by law for beauty im­ports to com­mis­sion an ap­proved lab­o­ra­tory to test its range on both mice, and a non-ro­dent an­i­mal (most com­monly mon­keys, and yes, bea­gles) to gain ap­proval for sale. This means any beauty com­pany that re­tails in China has, and will con­tinue to test on an­i­mals. With China rep­re­sent­ing an es­ti­mated $50 bil­lion (Dh184 bil­lion) in do­mes­tic sales of beauty prod­ucts in 2015 and pro­jected to be­come the largest mar­ket for per­sonal care and cos­met­ics glob­ally in the next five to ten years, it’s a tempt­ing win for brands set on world dom­i­na­tion.

Re­cently fall­ing afoul of pub­lic opin­ion is cult cos­met­ics brand NARS, which en­tered the Chi­nese mar­ket in June, im­me­di­ately an­ger­ing its fan­base by choos­ing money over morals. ‘The global elim­i­na­tion of an­i­mal test­ing needs to hap­pen,’ said the Shi­seido-owned brand in a state­ment re­spond­ing to a threat­ened boy­cott. ‘We firmly be­lieve that prod­uct and in­gre­di­ent safety can be proven by non-an­i­mal meth­ods, but we must com­ply with the lo­cal laws of the mar­kets in which we op­er­ate, in­clud­ing in China.’ Nis­sen says that NARS’ de­ci­sion to launch in China is dis­ap­point­ing and weakly de­fended, but not com­pletely un­ex­pected.

‘The cus­tomer de­mand is there [for cru­elty-free] and that’s grow­ing rapidly, but it’s the brands who are drag­ging their feet in mak­ing the change. In some cases, for ex­am­ple NARS, they have ac­tu­ally gone back­wards,’ she notes. ‘China of­fers mas­sive po­ten­tial for rev­enue so it’s no shock that more brands want to en­ter that mar­ket, but as a re­sult, it’s at the ex­pense of their brand iden­tity and be­tray­ing their loyal cus­tomers from

other parts of the world.’

Un­like China, the UAE doesn’t re­quire prod­ucts to be tested on an­i­mals be­fore be­ing ap­proved for mar­ket, nor are there fa­cil­i­ties equipped or li­censed to test on an­i­mals on the be­half of non-phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal brands. How­ever brands that do test on an­i­mals can sell here, and are not re­quired to dis­close if they do.


Want to start a cru­elty-free beauty rou­tine? Chloe Ragg, a Dubai pub­lic re­la­tions agency owner and mum-of-one, says that it’s eas­ier than you’d think, with a new line-up of prod­ucts paired with her home-made cof­fee and co­conut oil scrubs leav­ing her skin glowing. Ragg first sought out cru­elty-free prod­ucts when she was di­ag­nosed with can­cer ear­lier this year and de­cided to com­mit to a plant-based diet, elim­i­nat­ing all an­i­mal prod­ucts from her meals. Her de­ci­sion soon crossed over into her beauty choices. ‘It got me think­ing about the skincare and make-up I use, and it made ob­vi­ous sense to switch over to cru­elty-free prod­ucts, not only for the ben­e­fits gen­er­ally for my skin, but for the ben­e­fit of the an­i­mals that th­ese prod­ucts were tested on,’ ex­plains Ragg. While she’s found the change worth­while, her big­gest hur­dle was find­ing what brands were truly de­void of an­i­mal test­ing. ‘What I found hard was find­ing a com­pany that is gen­uinely cer­ti­fied for cru­elty-free make-up and beauty prod­ucts. I think there are a lot of com­pa­nies that aren’t ex­actly truth­ful when it comes to this – I re­ally think it would de­ter a lot of peo­ple from us­ing th­ese prod­ucts if they knew that an­i­mals were harmed dur­ing the test­ing phase.’

Nis­sen agrees that brands have be­come in­creas­ing crafty when it comes to dis­clos­ing their po­si­tion on an­i­mal test­ing. She says that since she went cru­elty-free in 2014, she’s had

‘The cus­tomer de­mand for cru­elty-free is grow­ing RAPIDLY, but it’s the BRANDS who are drag­ging their feet in mak­ing the change.’

to pay ex­tra at­ten­tion to how the prod­ucts she re­views are la­belled. ‘For ex­am­ple, some brands will put a logo of a lit­tle bunny or write ‘cru­elty free’ on their pack­ag­ing as a way to pig­gy­back off au­thor­i­ta­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions,’ she points out.

Nis­sen says that even brands with marked an­i­mal test­ing sec­tions on their web­sites can mis­lead con­sumers, as it’s not just the fin­ished prod­uct that may be tested on an­i­mals, but the in­gre­di­ents within. This can be an ex­ploited loop­hole with a tube of lo­tion stat­ing ‘Not Tested on An­i­mals’ only re­fer­ring to the fi­nal prod­uct. ‘They use tricky word­ing in­stead of clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion to por­tray their com­pa­nies prac­tices,’ gripes Nis­sen. ‘By do­ing this they aren’t ly­ing, but they aren’t telling you the truth ei­ther – they put the em­pha­sis on you to in­ter­pret their words as the way they meant them.’ Both Nis­sen and Ragg say that they were both shocked about which brands en­gage in an­i­mal test­ing. ‘I wrongly as­sumed that the big brands like May­belline, L’Oreal and Revlon wouldn’t test on an­i­mals,’ says Nis­sen. ‘I now al­ways check PETA’s or Leap­ing Bunny’s web­site when I’m mak­ing a new pur­chase, as they list clearly which brands are in­volved in test­ing and to what ex­tent.’ Now, she says, ‘I feel so much bet­ter get­ting ready each day that no one died for me to be clean and pre­sentable.’

If you watched that cute ‘free the bea­gles’ video we men­tioned ear­lier, you may be won­der­ing the same thing we were – why use bea­gles? It turns out that due to their small size, trust­ing na­ture and de­sire to please, bea­gles are one of the eas­i­est breeds for sci­en­tists to han­dle, even when the dogs are in agony. Even when they are be­ing in­jected, burned, blinded, and bred for a pain-filled and clin­i­cal life, bea­gles still crave our love. Which has us won­der­ing, isn’t it time we fi­nally loved them back?

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