Animal testing: what no one wants to think about

by Amy Renee
Animal testing: what no one wants to think about

what are your feelings in regards to animal testing?

I was chatting with a friend over a bottle of wine and the topic of animal testing came up. My friend is a nurse and really didn’t say much about her opinions on the matter, but I know she is a huge animal lover. One point I made though is that animal testing is sometimes a necessity. I say this because without it my mother as well as many other people I love might be dead. That being said, I DO believe that animals in research labs shouldn’t be tortured. This is where things get touchy.

There’s a law to protect animals that are used in research and also those that are used in exhibition (i.e., zoos, Seaworld, etc.) and in transport (i.e., to pet shops). It’s called The Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This law  was put into place back in 1966 in order to protect animals to ensure they aren’t mistreated. For example, this law is supposed to ensure that the animals receive sanitary living conditions and appropriate food and water supplies. Under this law researchers are required to comply with certain things such as searching for alternative research methods before resorting to animals testing and giving the animals pain relief to help them cope with certain procedures. Thank God for the AWA, right? Well…not so fast.

Here’s where it gets disturbing. The AWA excludes several animals from this law – many of which are the most commonly used in animal testing (mice, rats, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, etc.). Funny since researchers are scientists and scientists know that THESE ARE STILL ANIMALS SCIENTIFICALLY SPEAKING!!!

But even though animal testing might be necessary under special circumstances like for certain medicines and treatments that could potentially save or at least enhance lives, did you know that hundreds of thousands of defenseless animals such as bunnies, mice, guinea pigs, rats and others are forced into excruciating pain every year for the sole purpose of testing cosmetics, personal-care products, cleaning products, and some food products? Now you might imagine some goofy research scientist in a white lab coat putting lipstick on a rabbit, but unfortunately that’s far from what actually happens. These tests are horribly painful and traumatic for the animals. Imagine someone dripping chemicals into your pup’s eye, which are not only extremely painful, but sometimes lead them to go completely blind and can even lead to paralysis or worse. Yep, that’s a common test they do for cosmetics. And for what? Most of the time they end up with misleading or inaccurate results rendering the research pointless while the animals end up in pain and blind for nothing. And guess what? The product still ends up on store shelves! So why?

I know what you’re thinking – better some lab rat than me, right? Well, note what I mentioned above, that even in studies where animals ended up blind, the makeup can still be marketed and sold. Not only that, but there are other ways to test products. Scientists have developed ways to test products in vitro, meaning they test the chemicals from the products on human cell cultures and these tests are much more accurate than animal studies since they mimic human skin and eyes and other body parts. Not only do these types of testing procedures make much more sense in terms of safety for humans, but they don’t involve torturing animals and this type of research generally costs less too.

India and Brazil do not allow animal testing for cosmetics and as soon as a recent bill comes into effect New Zealand won’t allow it either. India and Brazil don’t even allow animal-tested cosmetics to be imported into their countries. I hope that one day the United States will do the same.

Would you spend $50 on that lipstick and feel good about wearing it knowing that bunnies were tortured in the development in it? I would hope not! I know I certainly wouldn’t and anyone who knows me knows I love makeup (well, when I’m getting dressed up anyway).

No worries. There are plenty of makeup brands that are animal friendly. Here are some great cosmetic brands that are cruelty free:

  • Arbonne International
  • Aveda
  • BareFaced Mineral Cosmetics
  • Bonne Bell
  • Burt’s Bees
  • E.L.F. Cosmetics
  • Jordana Cosmetics
  • Josie Maran
  • Merle Norman
  • Milani Cosmetics
  • Murad
  • Physicians Formula
  • Smashbox Cosmetics
  • Tarte
  • Too Faced Cosmetics
  • Urban Decay
  • Wet n Wild

Although this list is long (and you can find even more products here and here), you probably noticed that many of the popular drug store brands are missing from this list. Maybelline, L’Oreal, Cover Girl, Revlon, and Garnier all test on animals. This made me so upset since I know I likely own at least one cosmetic item from every one of these brands right now. In fact, Garnier BB cream is one of my favorite products. But now I’m reconsidering. I guess I’ll have to find another BB cream. I’ve heard Smashbox makes a great one, although it’s more than double the price. 🙁 But I guess I’d rather pay a little more for my makeup and know my money isn’t going toward torturing animals!

Tips to help you find cruelty-free products when shopping

You might not be able to find cruelty-free substitutions for everything you need or want at first, but don’t give up. There are tools to make things easier. The first and easiest thing you can do is flip the product around and look for this logo or the words, “this product is not tested on animals.” Even if a finished product hasn’t been tested on animals that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t used animal testing during the developmental stages or used animal products in it’s ingredients, so the best way to know you are using an 100% cruelty-free product is to look for the cruelty-free logo or to use products that are marked “vegan.”

Cruelty-Free Logo

Apps that can help you find cruelty-free products

There are apps you can use on your smart phone that make it a lot easier to find cruelty free products. What’s great is that you can use them not only to find cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals, but personal-care and household products as well. Here is a link to the cruelty-free app for Android and here is the link for IOS. PETA also has an app you can use to find “bunny free” products and you can find the Android or IOS versions here.

What you can do

As I mentioned above New Zealand has joined Brazil and India in creating laws agains animal testing for cosmetics production. You can join the cause here in the United States by adding your name to the Campaign Against Animal Testing here. You can also like their Facebook page here. And, of course, you can try to avoid purchasing any products that are tested on animals from this point forward. I know it’s a big step, but together we can make a difference! But even if you can’t avoid all products that are tested on animals right now, please make the first step by contacting your state representative and letting them know that you want animal testing for cosmetics and personal-care products to stop. It’s so easy. All you have to do is fill out this simple form and it’s done. Together we can make a difference.

Now I realize that some of you likely have loved ones who are suffering with chronic illness who need medication to survive, or maybe you yourself are. Although I’d like to ask if they (or you) have tried a whole-food, plant-based diet first (please don’t get angry with me, I’m only trying to help), sometimes medications are inevitable. Many medications wouldn’t be available without animal testing, so I know this is a tough subject to argue, so I’ll just focus on the cosmetics for now. Who can argue that animal testing on cosmetics is necessary for survival? Who? Seriously? IT’S NOT PEOPLE!!! IT’S HORRIBLE AND WRONG!

So, as I mentioned above I took a look at my own products while I was developing this blog post and was saddened by how much of my makeup has been tested on animals. I decided to look for some alternatives to my current favorites to see just how different they might be. Well, I haven’t had much time to try stuff out as Healthfest 2015 occurred this past weekend in Texas and I was busy with that, but I did try out a new lipstick and lip pencil by Jordana Cosmetics. I love a dark, red lip and this color is gorgeous so I thought I’d give it a go. And what better time than during Healthfest, where the days were super long and jam-packed with no time for reapplication. These are the products I used: Jordana easyliner for lips in Cabernet and Jordana modern matte lipstick in matte dare.

Trying out cruelty-free Jordana lipcolor at Healthfest 2015

Trying out cruelty-free Jordana lipcolor at Healthfest 2015

I have to say, I was quite impressed by the lipstick. My lips tend to be dry naturally, and coming from the humid climate of Tampa to the drier climate of Texas I worried the matte lipstick would dry out my lips. But it didn’t! In fact, I didn’t have to reapply any of my lipstick unless I ate. Drinking (I drank a lot of tea while there and even a few cappuccinos – with almond milk of course) wasn’t a problem. And here’s another benefit: the lipstick cost less than $3 and the liner was less than $2. I’m not even joking. So…inexpensive, worked as expected, color was divine, didn’t dry out my lips, and NO ANIMALS WERE TORTURED! I’d say that’s a win win! The rest of my makeup didn’t fair so well, and guess what – some of it wasn’t cruelty-free. I haven’t had the time (or money) to replace all of my products since learning all of this, but I did like this lipstick and liner. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

So what do you think? That (above) is a picture of me taken at Healthfest 2015 with the amazing Rich Roll. By the way, if you don’t follow ultra endurance sports and haven’t read his book, Finding Ultra I encourage you to do so – it is incredibly inspirational for anyone whether you are a runner, swimmer, or even just a couch potato trying to find the motivation to start moving.

Well that’s it. I hope I’ve at least gotten you thinking about this often overlooked topic. I know that most people would NEVER purchase products that were tested on animals if they knew what the animals were put through. Again, I’m not talking about medications here, I’m talking about cosmetics, personal-care and cleaning products. Think of it like organic produce – the higher the demand, the higher the availability (and cheaper the price), so let’s all work together to make a change. Besides, as I mentioned above, there are a lot of cruelty-free products that are not expensive at all, in fact they are cheaper than many of the “animal-torturing” products so that’s no excuse!

As always, thanks for reading.

 

References:

  1. Animal Welfare Act. United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library. http://awic.nal.usda.gov/government-and-professional-resources/federal-laws/animal-welfare-act. Updated on March 3, 2015. Accessed on March 3, 2015.
  2. Historic milestone celebrated as India finalises cosmetics animal testing ban: Humane Society International’s Be Cruelty-Free India campaign welcomes victory for animals. Humane Society International of India. http://www.hsi.org/world/india/news/releases/2014/05/india-bans-cosmetics-animal-testing-052314.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweets&utm_campaign=BCF14. Published on May 23, 2014. Accessed on April 1, 2015.
  3. #BeCrueltyFree campaign milestones as New Zealand becomes first Australasian country to ban cosmetics animal testing. Humane Society International. http://www.hsi.org/news/press_releases/2015/03/NZ_cosmetic_animal_testing_ban033115.html. Published on March 31, 2015. Accessed on April 1, 2015.
  4. Animal Welfare Act Quick Reference Guides. United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library. http://awic.nal.usda.gov/animal-welfare-act-quick-reference-guides. Updated on March 3, 2015. Accessed on March 3, 2015.
  5. Moore P. PETA study shows a staggering increase in animal use in experiments. http://www.peta.org/blog/peta-study-shows-a-staggering-increase-in-animal-use-in-experiments/?utm_campaign=022715%20PETA%20E-News&utm_source=PETA%20E-Mail&utm_medium=E-News. Posted on February 25, 2015. Accessed on March 2, 2015.
  6. Animal-friendly shopping tips: eight ways to help animals used in harmful tests. The Humane Society of the United States. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/cosmetic_testing/compassionate_consumer/take_action.html?credit=web_id329654370. Published on March 26, 2014. Accessed on April 2, 2015.

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