Cosmetics and animal testing

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our youngest daughter, whose summer internship I talked about here, will graduate from college in the spring. Her original plan of action was to become a medical examiner (although I begged her to consider cosmetic surgery – and FAST), but she has recently decided that her interest lies more in research and plans to do her post-graduate work in that area.

As college students sometimes do, she had a period of waffling a bit deciding which direction she wanted to take when a sorority sister, who graduated last year, swayed her decision making a bit when she decided to forego graduate school and instead took a high-paying (by my daughter’s standards) job in cosmetic research.

Naturally I am aware that some cosmetic companies use animal research to test the safety of their products for human use. I see the label on the conditioner bottle that reads, “we do not test on animals” but I never really gave any thought to what exactly that means and why that would be a good thing to know. I guess in the back of my mind I pictured the furry little animals being lovingly shampooed and conditioned and the research being recorded as to whether or not their skin was irritated and if their split ends had improved. I just didn’t think about it. And now I feel terrible about that.

I feel terrible because my daughter’s friend spends her days spraying cosmetic products into the eyes of fully-conscious rabbits, pigs and monkeys so they can determine exactly how badly this will damage their eye tissue. Apparently this is extremely painful to the animals and they often scream - sometimes breaking their necks or backs trying to escape the restraints.

And she tells people this is what she does for a living.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an animal activist. I am not against animal testing when it's necessary for human medical research. People are still more important than animals; you can’t change my mind on that. But what I am against is this kind of treatment for cosmetic purposes. It just seems so wrong.

Although the FDA does not require animal testing for cosmetics, and although alternative methods (with more reliable results) are available, cosmetics companies still kill millions of animals every year to test their products.

Fortunately there are also many cosmetic companies that do NOT test on animals, among them Avon, Mary Kay and The Body Shop. You can find a full list here.

I think it’s wonderful that our daughter wants to get involved in research. She is still very idealistic and so sure she can make an important contribution to medical science. I just hope she stays away from cosmetic companies.

Edited to add: I did a quick search and found this additional list of companies who do not test on animals. I was happy to see that neither Bare Escentuals or M.A.C. do, but I'm still looking for my hair products.


Jenn said...

I agree completely and hope that your daughter reads your blog. Have you expressed this to her?


Midlife Mommy said...

I guess I was like you -- kind of knew about this but didn't know what it involved, and didn't realize how extensive it is. Do you know there is not one cosmetic company in the list that I use?

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

I am wondering if perhaps that list in not all-inclusive. I should do some further research on that. I'm starting to think those listed may just be the ones who have pledged with the "Leaping Bunny" oganization.

I know Avon doesn't test on animals and I don't think they're listed. I'll check on this tonight and update.

Jenn - I don't think my daughter reads my blog, but she definitely knows how I feel about it. :)

Tanya said...

Man, I can't stand the thought of it. I can't believe it's allowed and wonder why some companies can get by just fine without having to do it, while others insist on it.

It pisses me off, frankly. Thanks for this post Jean!

MizFit said...

I hadnt thought about the shampoo and testing (for shame I know) only the make up.

keep us posted as to what you discover!