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Enough Is Enough. It's Time Consumers Stood Up To Animal Testing

05/16/2017 12:58 EDT | Updated 05/16/2017 12:58 EDT

Sixty years ago, most people in the so-called developed world didn't think twice about testing poisonous chemicals on nonhuman animals.

But it's now 2017, and where are we?

rabbit cage

(Photo: Grigorenko via Getty Images)

The United States still allows extensive animal testing (and therefore cruelty) for cosmetic products, and Canada has not gone nearly as far as it can. People still wander store aisles and buy from companies that either directly test chemicals on animals -- or companies that favour such practices by operating in markets (like China) where animal testing is largely required by law.

It's 2017, and where are we? Animal testing and cruelty cannot be defended on any rational, well-thought-out grounds (not that it ever could have been), but it's still routinely done even in supposedly advanced countries. Cosmetic corporations of the profit-above-all-else persuasion are simply exploiting the public's ignorance while nonhuman animals are tortured and killed. Every day.

Brands are all about sex appeal and never show the dark-and-depraved side of the cosmetics industry.

In short, many people throughout the world are simply not aware of the sheer extent of animal cruelty in the cosmetics industry. Big-name brands like MAC and Avon skillfully use PR tactics to push a corporate image that seems animal-friendly; and, of course, advertisements run by these brands are all about sex appeal -- and never show the dark-and-depraved side of the cosmetics industry. So the public continues to buy from companies that support cruelty-towards-animals largely because of the very deft misinformation campaigns that these companies have created.

But what is animal testing, exactly, and why do I refer to it as "cruelty"? One test that is still in use is the infamous Draize test. Created in the 1940s as an eye irritant test, it still has not been banned in the United States. Here's how this test works, as explained in "Animal Testing in Cosmetics: Recent Developments in the European Union and the United States," p. 271:

"Draize and his co-workers developed a technique whereby a beauty or household product is applied to a rabbit's eye, skin, or penis over a twenty-four, forty-eight, or seventy-two hour period. In some cases, the observations last from seven to twenty-one days. Rabbits are placed in a holding device which only exposes their heads so that they cannot claw out their eyes or escape. The subject is usually an albino New Zealand white rabbit.

The test is carried out to see whether signs of blindness, hemorrhaging, bleeding, swelling, ulceration, and/or discharge occur...In most cases, the rabbit is not anaesthetized during the process,and is killed after the test has ended. Such tests are difficult to justify, considering that most of these cosmetic products have already been tested and this duplication is both superfluous and cruel. Interestingly, because rabbits have a different cornea structure and produce a smaller amount of tears than humans, a substance placed in the eye of a rabbit will stay there longer and consequently, the irritancy test may produce different results in comparison to humans."

In virtually any other context, such treatment of an animal would be deemed animal cruelty. Perpetrators of this kind of cruelty might find themselves diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. But since corporate interests have prevailed decade after decade, this test -- and a long list of other cruel tests -- have continued into the 21st century.

The world is slowly-but-surely waking up to the reality -- and horror -- of using chemicals to burn out the eyes of nonhuman animals, of using poisonous substances to scald the skin of these animals, of subjecting countless animals to what is nothing more than ruthless chemical warfare. All of this is justified by major makeup brands as somehow necessary sacrifices on the altar of human beauty.

In March 2013, the EU banned animal testing for cosmetic purposes and prohibited the selling of makeup products containing any ingredients which had been tested on animals. Nonetheless, dozens upon dozens of countries are lagging behind -- including the United States and Canada. A 2014 bill proposed in the United States -- which would have banned such animal testing -- didn't get far and was rather quickly shot down.

That's the bad news.

messy cosmetics

(Photo: Pokrebkov via Getty Images)

Here's the good news. No matter what happens on a legislative level, you as a consumer wield considerable power. Corporations have a tendency to listen to people when their bottom line is hurting, so if ever there was a time to switch to cruelty-free makeup and beauty products -- that time is now.

There are simply no more excuses one could muster to continue purchasing makeup and beauty products that are not cruelty-free.

For starters, effective alternatives to animal testing exist. So even those who cling to the bizarre notion that torturing helpless animals is OK -- so long as human safety is ensured -- no longer have a basis for their belief.

Furthermore, you as a consumer -- and the general public -- now have a wide range of vegan, cruelty-free makeup options. As more and more people are becoming aware of what's going on and what's happening to animals, so too are more and more cruelty-free and eco-conscious products coming to the fore (consider my own company, which produces completely organic, vegan products like lash glues, mascaras, eyeliners and more). Such a range of options were not available 30 years ago, but they are easily available now.

Corporations will continue to endorse animal cruelty and torture until consumers decide that enough is enough.

And now with immediate access to a treasure trove of information, consumers can actively choose to avoid cosmetic products created, sold and distributed by companies that could care less about what happens to nonhuman animals (their evasive corporatespeak notwithstanding). Here, for example, one can find a list of some all-too common brand names that put the profit motive ahead of any duty to social consciousness. Among these brand names you will find those brands that fill the aisles of innumerable department stores across the world: Avon, Chanel, Chapstick, L'Oreal, Revlon -- to name but a few.

These corporations will continue to endorse animal cruelty and torture until consumers decide -- en masse -- that enough is enough and that they will not be a part of these practices. That they will no longer support this anti-animal behaviour with their dollars. That instead they will look to products that do not involve cruelty against animals.

Only then will nonhuman animals be treated more fairly, instead of being strapped down, helpless, as toxic chemicals sear away eyes, skin and organs.

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