Animals used for cosmetics testing are condemned to a frightening and painful life. They endure chemical burns on their skin and eyes, and chemical poisoning due to forced inhalation and ingestion – all without any form of pain relief. And after all of this, these sentient beings are killed as they are of no further value to the testing facility.
The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 4148), introduced in March by Representative Jim Moran (D-VA), would “phase out cosmetic animal testing and the sale of cosmetics tested on animals.” This would be achieved by prohibiting the use of animals for cosmetics testing within a year of enactment, and prohibiting the sale of cosmetics tested on animals within three years of enactment.
The FDA defines cosmetics as items used for “cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” H.R. 4148 would not impact animal testing in biomedical research.
The European Union, India, and Israel have all banned the use of animals in cosmetics testing and no longer allow the import of cosmetics if they, or their ingredients, were tested on animals. China has recently ceased requiring that all cosmetics be tested on animals. The U.S. does not require cosmetics to be tested on animals, but many companies, like Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Mary Kay, and Procter & Gamble, still do.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of testing cosmetics on animals is that humane methods are available that are often faster, less expensive, and more accurate. Animal-based cosmetics tests indicate how cosmetics might affect humans, but they cannot provide a guarantee as humans can have very different reactions.
Dozens of validated non-animal testing methods are available to cosmetics companies. These alternatives utilize artificial human tissue, donated human blood, computer technology, and in-vitro processes, to name a few. Cosmetics companies can also select from the thousands of ingredients that have already proven safe without the need for further testing.
Since introducing the Humane Cosmetics Act, Rep. Jim Moran has retired and will be succeeded by Democrat Don Beyer. Beyer is expected to continue to advocate for the legislation, which is currently assigned to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The legislation currently has 55 Democratic and one Republican co-sponsors. In addition, 133 industry stakeholders stated their support for the legislation, including Paul Mitchell, Burt’s Bees, The Body Shop, and LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.
The Humane Cosmetics Act is desperately needed to remove U.S. cosmetics trade barriers in the European Union, India, and Israel, to stimulate the development of more advanced non-animal testing technologies, and finally, to end the cruel an unnecessary abuse of mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals for the development of beauty products.
In the meantime, there are ways you can take action.
First, call or email your state representative and ask them to support the Humane Cosmetics Act. Second, you can learn more about a cosmetics testing on animals and alternatives through the Humane Society of the United States and American Anti-Vivisection Society websites. Last but not least, you can search for and purchase products from companies that do not use animal testing.
Correction: The article originally cited Revlon as conducting animal testing, per the PETA website, but other sources suggest that this may no longer be accurate.