A campaign by The Body Shop hopes to end animal testing in cosmetics once and for all, writes Meera Murugesan
LOOKING good shouldn’t involve cruelty. So the next time you apply your favourite shade of lipstick, open a jar of moisturiser or flip open your compact powder, think about whether your beauty routine is contributing to pain and suffering for animals.
Animals have been used in cosmetics testing for over 50 years and 80 per cent of countries around the world still have no laws against animal testing in cosmetic products and ingredients.
The Body Shop, a beauty brand known for its cruelty-free approach has been campaigning with the non-profit organisation Cruelty Free International against animal testing since the 1980s.The brand has since launched a campaign to call for a global ban on animal testing in cosmetic products and ingredients by 2020.
By partnering with Cruelty Free International, The Body Shop will take the campaign to the United Nations and request for an international convention to ban cosmetics testing on animals.
KEEPING IT CLEAN
The Body Shop has always been a brand that has been against animal testing in cosmetics and this campaign is another stage in its efforts to get the practice banned says Jessie Macneil-Brown, senior manager international campaigns and corporate responsibility for The Body Shop.
“The Body Shop passionately believes that no animal should be harmed in the name of cosmetics and that animal testing is outdated, cruel and unnecessary,” says Macneil-Brown.
She explains that the trend in cosmetics now is about being vegan, vegetarian and cruelty-free and The Body
Shop as a brand has proven for over 40 years that one can deliver high quality, amazing products without testing on animals.
Many consumers today want a cruelty-free approach to cosmetics but they may be unaware that animal testing in cosmetics is still an ongoing issue today, or just how barbaric the practice can be.
“It’s not just cruel but so needless and that’s something we want to get across as well. There are alternatives to animal testing for use in the industry today which are faster and give more effective results so there’s absolutely no need to use animals.”
Scientific alternatives to animal testing use cutting-edge technology that is more relevant to humans, including sophisticated computer models and reconstituted human skin donated by volunteers.
These alternatives are quicker, cheaper and more effective, yet over 500,000 animals are used in cosmetics testing every year.
Cruelty Free International CEO Michelle Thew says people are confused about animal testing. The world over, people want this cruel practice to end yet existing laws are a patchwork of different rules with some very big gaps.
While the issue has gained some momentum since the 2013 European Union ban on the sale of animal-tested ingredients and products, there is still much to be done.
“Most countries do not require testing data to be made available to the public or even to regulators so it’s extremely difficult to know how widespread animal testing is. What we do know is that even a single test may involve hundreds of animals,” says Thew.
SHROUDED IN SECRECY
In fact just one new ingredient in a cosmetic product could result in the deaths of at least 1,400 animals. The difficulty with this issue is that very often testing is hidden, it’s not obvious to the public until you alert them to the problem and a lot of people think the issue has been dealt with already, adds Thew.
Many companies may also make claims about being cruelty-free when, in fact they are not, because they know it’s an issue consumers care about.
To ensure that cosmetics are free from animal testing, consumers should look out for the “leaping bunny” logo on the products they purchase. This symbol means the company has opened up its processes for audit to show that there’s no animal testing throughout its supply chain.
“That’s why we encourage people to check for the symbol because when you seeit, you know that the company can prove its claims of being cruelty-free,” says Thew.
*Pictures courtesy of The Body Shop
Calling for an international ban
THE Body Shop and Cruelty Free International new campaign is calling for an international ban on animal testing in cosmetics, both products and ingredients, everywhere and forever.
It is the most ambitious campaign ever against animal testing and aims to get eight million people to sign a petition calling on the UN to introduce an international convention to end the practice once and for all.
The petition can be signed online at any of The Body Shop’s 3,000 stores across the world. Consumers are encouraged to use the campaign hashtag, #ForeverAgainstAnimal Testing on social media to raise awareness of the issue.
Animal exposed to test substances
AFTER World War II, animals came into widespread use for testing the safety of consumer products such as cosmetics. The animals most commonly used to test for product safety are mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.
Animal are exposed to test substances by application to the eyes or patches of bare skin, by injection, by inhalation or by force-feeding.
To assess toxicity for example, rabbits or rats are forced to eat or inhale a cosmetics ingredient or have it rubbed onto their shaved skin every day for 28 or 90 days and are then killed.
To assess skin sensitisation, a cosmetics ingredient is rubbed onto the shaved skin of guinea pigs and the ears of mice to see if they have an allergic reaction. Many of these animals are then killed.