The Unnecessary Cruelty of Testing Makeup on Animals

It's easier now than ever before to choose vegan and cruelty free cosmetics. Here's why you should.

The unnecessary cruelty of testing makeup on animals

Many assume that animal testing is a simple matter of a chimpanzee getting its nails painted, or a few mice taking a bath with some newly formulated shampoo. The truth is far darker.

Animals used for cosmetics testing live isolated, bleak lives consisting of nothing more than suffering for these experiments. They are fed unrealistic quantities of a given substance so scientists can look for signs of cancer, birth defects, or other illnesses or health hazards. Chemicals are dripped into their eyes and rubbed into their shaved skin to look for irritation. They’re given “lethal dose” tests, in which they’re forced to swallow large amounts of a chemical to determine how much could kill you. When the tests are done, the animals are killed — all in the name of personal care products. (3) 

It is our mission at Axiology to help educate and empower consumers to make informed choices. We believe it’s important for all people to understand what goes on behind the scenes in the cosmetics industry, and why we’re forever committed to creating vegan and cruelty-free makeup.

Unnecessary Cruelty

The cosmetics industry is highly unregulated in the U.S., and no safety testing is required for ingredients or products to hit shelves (4). That means that any animal testing that occurs in our country — where it is still legal — is by choice, and at the sole discretion of the cosmetics company. Plus, most countries don’t require companies to keep or release statistics on the number of animals used or killed in cosmetics tests, so there’s no way to know the real toll.

Though in theory it sounds like a good idea for a cosmetics manufacturer to go above and beyond regulations to ensure consumer safety, the animal testing methodology is cruel and archaic. Plain and simple, animal testing is not necessary or helpful when it comes to cosmetics. 

First, the results of cosmetics animal studies are unreliable and not applicable to humans, making the suffering of animals in vain. Second, there are modern, non-animal safety testing alternatives, such as computer models, in vitro (test tube) methods, cell and tissue cultures, and trials with human volunteers. Third, these modern methods are not only the best choice, ethically, but they often take less time to complete and at a fraction of the cost of crude animals tests. Fourth, these modern techniques are designed specifically to determine how a given ingredient will affect humans, correcting for the species differences that have called animal testing results into question over time. Most importantly, no animal should live and die, experiencing only suffering, in the name of human convenience. (2)

How Is Animal Testing Changing?

Though great strides have been made to stop cosmetics testing on animals, there’s still a long way to go. Let’s start with the good news: Animal testing is not required in the U.S., and is illegal in all member countries of the EU, as well as in Australia, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and the U.K. Many other countries are also currently considering laws that would ban animal testing in cosmetics. 

One of the biggest challenges on this front in recent years has been a blanket requirement by China that all imported cosmetics be tested on animals. This has meant that any company wanting to sell in China — the world’s largest market — have had to test their cosmetics on animals. Mintel and PETA estimate that 300,000 animals are used in cosmetics tests each year in China alone, with the Humane Society International estimating the death of 50,000 to 120,000 rabbits yearly over the past decade. (2)

In addition to being a huge blow to anti-cruelty efforts, this has also created complications in markets outside China. For example, though animal testing is illegal in the European Union, it is possible for an EU company to still have their products animal tested in China for sale there. Beyond that, this company may continue selling the same product in the EU — even though it has been tested on animals — so long as the animal data was not used for product safety data in the EU. Though this may feel like a bit of legal gymnastics, it has created real complications for consumers, who have had to rely on vegan certifications and their own research to feel confident they’re not supporting animal cruelty. 

However, the world got some really good news in July 2020 when China’s State Council announced that beginning January 1, 2021, imported “ordinary” cosmetics, such as shampoo, perfume, and mascara, may no longer require eye and skin irritation animal tests. Though “special” cosmetics will still require testing, this is a big win for animals and animal rights activists, as the “ordinary” category makes up the vast majority of products sold. It remains to be seen how this major change will unfold, but it’s a hopeful step in the right direction. (3)

A Cruelty-Free Present

Axiology Beauty uses ingredients like avocado oil and coconut oil because they’re kind to the Earth and animals. However, it’s true that the cosmetics industry has a dark past, and that virtually every ingredient — even water — has been tested on animals. While we can’t change the past, we can ensure that this inhumane cruelty to animals doesn’t persist into the future. 

That’s why we’re committed to better beauty products. In the words of our founder, Ericka Rodriguez, “Makeup shouldn't just be safe for the people who wear it. It should also be safe for animals, the planet and the people who make it.”


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