It’s Time to Take Animals out of our Cosmetics

Kristin Jones

            Despite numerous advances in technology and the availability of alternatives, animals are still suffering and dying to test shampoo, mascara, and other cosmetic products. Animals such as rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and rats are subject to invasive tests such as rubbing chemicals onto their skin without pain relief and forcing them to swallow large amounts of chemicals to determine the dose that causes death. Not only is testing cosmetics on animals cruel, but it is also unnecessary as there are already thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use and do not require additional testing that companies can use. Modern technology has also created other methods such as human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models to replace outdated animal testing. Nearly 50 non-animal testing methods are already available, and they are often faster, less expensive, and more reliable. Not to mention, non-animal tests can more closely mimic how humans respond to cosmetic ingredients and products since animals often react differently than humans when exposed to the same chemicals. In addition, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), does not even require the use of animal testing to demonstrate that the cosmetics are safer, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval.

            Animal testing does not and should not need to continue. In fact, many companies, states, and countries have proven that a world without cosmetic animal testing is possible. Large makeup brands such as Tarte, CoverGirl, and Anastasia Beverly Hills do not test on animals, nor do their suppliers. These cruelty-free companies’ success is proof that cosmetic companies can be safe and successful without causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Some states have also taken it upon themselves to ban the sale of most cosmetics tested on animals. California, Nevada, and Illinois were the first states to take the leap, with all three of their bills going into effect on January 1, 2020. California banned the sale of most cosmetics tested on animals when Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act into law. The ban covers both final products and component ingredients developed using animal testing, but only if they were sold in California or tested on animals after the bill went into effect. Nevada was the second state to ban animal testing for cosmetics. Senator Melanie Schieble authorized Senate Bill 197 to prohibit the sale of cosmetic products for which animal testing was performed. However, the bill does provide exemptions for products requiring federal, state, or foreign requirements of animal testing. The third and most recent state to ban cosmetic testing on animals is Illinois which banned the testing through Senate Bill 241 signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. However, unlike California and Nevada, Illinois’ new law provides additional incentives for cosmetics companies to invest in non-animal alternatives to help them stay competitive in a changing global market while sparing animals from painful tests.

            Other states have shown an initiative towards banning cosmetic testing on animals as well. For example, New Jersey is considering passing the New Jersey Humane Cosmetics Act, which would prohibit the sale of cosmetic products that have been tested on animals. New Jersey has previously enacted a law to limit product-testing on animals where alternative non-animal tests are available, but the New Jersey Humane Cosmetics Act would take this law one step further. Additional states considering a similar ban include Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Virginia.

            In order to avoid the inconsistency that results from states choosing whether or not to ban cosmetic animal testing, the United States should sincerely consider enacting the Humane Cosmetics Act. The Act would make it unlawful to use animals for cosmetics testing in the United States and will phase out the sale of cosmetics if the final product or any component was subject to new animal testing. Two-thirds of American voters support such an act as they believe it should not be legally allowed to test cosmetics safety on animals in the United States. In addition, Representative Don Beyer is leading the push to enact the Humane Cosmetics Act in the House of Representatives. Senators Martha McSally and Cory Booker are sponsoring the Senate version. The bill is also endorsed by the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association representing cosmetic and personal care products companies. The bill has been reintroduced in the United States with support from the cosmetic industry in 2019, but there has been minimal progress since then.

            In order to protect animals from the unnecessary suffering that results from cosmetic testing, the United States should take action and pass the Humane Cosmetics Act. Although the thought of such a significant change in the cosmetics industry may seem daunting, more than 30 countries, such as the member states of the EU, India, Israel, Norway, and Switzerland, have already prohibited cosmetic testing on animals. In addition, Turkey, South Korea, and Taiwan have passed laws limiting cosmetic animal testing. The success of the ban on cosmetic animal testing in numerous states and countries around the world proves that it is possible. Thus, the United States should take action to ensure that they return to the forefront of cosmetic safety testing and prevent the suffering of any more animals at the hands of the cosmetics industry.

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