Cosmetic Testing

Cosmetics are a range of items used on the skin to improve the appearance/ quality of the skin. The cosmetic and medical world relies on trials to ensure the safety of the product for human usage pre-sales. Such tests are conducted to prevent any reaction on the skin such as burning or irritation.

However, the devastating show behind the curtain hides testing conducted on animals, namely rabbits and mice. These tests include lethal dosage tests, which consist of feeding the animal countless doses of medicine until they inevitably die, to determine the ‘lethal dose amount. Another frequented test is a skin sensitivity test, where the product is applied onto a shaved patch of the animal’s skin, or dripped into their eyes until a visible reaction can be observed. This test is conducted without pain relief drugs in order to derive conclusive results.

Photo by ardeshir etemad: pexels

Such experiments are almost always lethal to the animals, and if the animal is not killed in the testing stage, they will be killed after the test, once again without pain suppressing drugs (usually as a result of cost-cutting systems). This process is highly unethical and deeply immoral.

Although certain countries such as western European countries have banned the sales of animal test products, which has although significantly reduced animal testing in that region, is not enough to solve the problem.

Survey Results

A survey was conducted to understand the awareness of the issue amongst students and adults. The results individually showed that there is minimal awareness of this form of testing amongst cosmetic companies, as well as almost zero initiative. If consumers were better aware of the problem, change is more likely to take place.

Mac, Revlon, and L’Oréal are 3 of the multiple companies that still make use of animal testing. Approximately 40% of the responders claim to have shopped from these companies either currently or in the past. A remaining 50% although having claimed to not utilize products from these companies, still buy from other such companies, leaving only 10% of our test-takers to be labeled as vegan users. 40% of the surveyed subjects claimed to be unaware of this issue at all and found this to be a foreign topic. Such a predicament proves that there is insufficient awareness of the problem, and therefore, insignificant change. Another 50% of the surveyed lot say that they are unaware of the brands they shop from, using cruelty to deliver products, once again emphasizing lack of awareness and its repercussions.

The majority of people have said that they do not do anything to avoid supporting such companies, despite the knowledge of the problem as well as the severity it holds. Very few subjects have mentioned that they only shop from vegan brands, and consciously make an effort to avoid supporting animal testing. This action is quite minimal, and insignificant in solving the big picture problem. Results show that given the opportunity, the surveyed subjects would support the cause, if given alternative options and in the case that they were better informed.

Ethical Implications

Medical research was flourishing in the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century. Various discoveries made during that era have set a foundation for modern research and knowledge. However, the era not only provided a foundation for research but also for the testing methods which grew more regular and common. This very research gave rise to various suspicions regarding the testing methods conducted. The use of both human and animal test subjects for medical/ cosmetic research was a pivotal concern. The revelation of several exploitative projects during the second world war deepened the certainty of these trial methods, including a series of medical experiments conducted on the prisoners under the Nazi German regime such as the Syphilis study. Despite modern acknowledgment, allowing the establishment of various ‘anti-abuse’ declarations and laws, the problem is still prevalent and impending in helpless species of animals.

Even though many countries have laws restricting the trials on animals, there are several inconsistencies that may render said laws inefficient. An example of this is a US welfare act which although prevents animal testing on ‘vertebrates’, is unexclusive of animals such as purpose-bred birds, rats, and mice. These animals account for 90% of the animals used in research fields.

As such, the act of cosmetic testing on any species is considered an extremely unethical practice. Such tests are conducted now on animals, especially small and frail creatures, in order to avoid human harm. However, society is yet to understand the immorality of putting human needs before those of animals, allowing the normalization and rationalization of a clear violation of animal rights.

When questioning the ethical reliability of an action, companies have to question their actions by determining the following;

  1. Is there any alternative method to perform the action?
  2. Does the action benefit and serve human needs where other procedures cannot?
  3. Are there actions put in place to minimize all suffering possible?

All of the above questions can allow us to conclude the ethical violations posed by animal testing. Modern research demonstrates several new scientific methods being explored which are not only safer but are also more accurate in providing test results for cosmetic testing. In addition to the new methodology, there is scarce proof showcasing that animal tests are actually providing any benefit to humans which cannot be alternatively supplied. Various arguments debate the validity of the animal test- results due to an obvious clash in the nature of animal vs human skin and its reactions to products.

Alternate solutions

Replacing animal testing in no way suggests or promotes putting human patients in any harm or risk. In fact, studies show that animal testings are more expensive, less efficient, and even more time-consuming than the various alternatives that modern science provides. Replacing animal testing in modern businesses will prove to enhance and advance the progression of cosmetic tests and will be able to improve the human nature of science. The moral benefits which substitute methods provide have the capacity to make an overall development in scientific customs and practices today.

Cell cultures

Over recent years scientific progression has allowed scientists to grow and therefore mimic the working of human cells and tissues in ways that duplicate the organs within our bodies. This development is called ‘cell cultures'. This process has allowed several studies on medicines for cancer, lung and kidney diseases, AIDs, etc. to research and experiment with possible drugs and treatment plans. However, despite the efficiency of the method, or the cruelty-free nature of the solution, it has inconveniences that renders the solution improbable for most companies. The equipment needed for this solution is highly expensive and costly, unaffordable for most low-end cosmetic companies.

Human tissues

Another similar solution involves using real human tissues which can be acquired post-mortem or even in the form of donations. When undergoing a severe surgery/ treatment it is possible to donate the skin tissue you leave behind in order to be used in drug trials etc. Several current conditions such as Parkinson's disease can be better studied using these.

Computer models

This solution is the most time and process productive. The current advancements and improvisations of society have led to the development of modern technology and computers. Utilizing these programs allows for the most speedy, and easy results. Computer models allow businesses to model and replicate the working of the human body in a way that allows accurate predictions of results. With a mathematical basis supported by virtual experimentation, the method allows sufficient information-based results.

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