Animal Testing in the Makeup Industry

“Save Ralph” is a recent film highlighting the animal cruelty involved with testing the safety of products on animals. This cruelty has been a source of debate for many years as people wonder if it is okay to compromise animal’s lives for better human safety. (Screenshot taken by Gretchen Stern from “Save Ralph” film)

“No animal should suffer and die in the name of beauty.” 

That quote is the message of the short film “Save Ralph” produced this year to highlight the cruelty animals face when companies test their products on them. 

It takes a rather satirical approach to the topic, as the rabbit Ralph goes through his day and explains the things that happen to him and other rabbits daily but puts a positive spin to his situation. He talks about his pain but then explains how he is happy to do his part to help the superior race, after all, humans have been to the moon, what have rabbits done?


How Testing Works:


Many types of makeup use animals such as the rabbits depicted in the video — in real life, using many other animals such as rats, mice, guinea pigs, and even occasionally dogs is not unheard of. In order to allow customers to use things like lipstick and concealer, chemicals from the products are first rubbed onto the shaved skin of these animals or dripped into their eyes. Researchers force-feeding them different substances is also common, so then they monitor the animals before killing them so that they can look at the effect those substances have on their organs. 

Yes, makeup needs to be safe and effective for people to use. No, animals should not have to suffer because of that.


What are Alternative Solutions?


Using other methods does not mean putting people at a high risk, and it could actually speed up the testing process. First, there is the simple process of putting some of a product onto human skin and seeing how it reacts. People who participate in this are volunteers or may get paid, and that is a big difference — researchers force animals into these tests, while people are not forced, and they are not exposed to products in the same cruel way. 

Most cells can be grown in labs, which provides a more logical testing solution. These cell cultures are already used with chemical testing, vaccine production, and drug development, so including makeup testing makes sense. 

Donating human tissue is another prominent way to study human reactions. If people are willing this tissue can come from different surgeries. It can come from people who have died, and it does not even have to be healthy to contribute to research. 


Many popular makeup brands like Mac, Clinique, and YSL use animal testing.


Here is a list of some of the many brands to avoid. These companies will often locate production in areas of China where animal testing is a requirement.

Ethical Brands:


While the list of brands to avoid is long, there are many that are cruelty-free. E.L.F., Burt’s Bees, Glossier, LUSH, and bareMinerals being just a few examples

The movement to end this inhumane practice is similar to the movement to end fast fashion, and it just provides one more piece of evidence that people’s effort to be more attractive and their attention to appearance has gone too far. 

Many common household items are actually the results of animal testing: not only makeup, but shampoo, sunscreen, cleaning products, and so much more. 

This does not mean people have to stop buying those products they love, but it does mean we all have a responsibility to do our research before buying certain brands. Animals can not speak for themselves, but people can protest for them by not supporting those brands that cause the issue in the first place. 


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