Testing cosmetics on animals
Testing cosmetics on animals is a form of animal testing, intended to ensure the safety and hypoallergenic properties of the products for use by humans. Because of the harm done to the animal subjects, this testing is opposed by animal rights activists and others, and is banned in the European Union.
Using animal testing in the development of cosmetics may involve testing either a finished product or the individual ingredients of a finished product on animals, often rabbits, but also mice, rats, and other animals. In some cases, the products or ingredients are applied to the mucous membranes of the animal, including eyes, nose, and mouth, to determine whether they cause allergic or other reactions.
Re-using existing test data obtained from previous animal testing is generally not considered to be cosmetic testing on animals; however, the acceptability of this to opponents of testing is inversely proportional to how recent the data is.
Due to the strong public backlash against cosmetic testing on animals, most cosmetic manufacturers say their products are not tested on animals. However, they are still required by trading standards and consumer protection laws in most countries to show their products are not toxic and dangerous to public health, and that the ingredients are not dangerous in large quantities, such as when in transport or in the manufacturing plant. In some countries, it is possible to meet these requirements without any further tests on animals. In other countries, it may require animal testing to meet legal requirements. The United States and Japan are frequently criticized for their insistence on stringent safety measures, which often requires animal testing. Some retailers distinguish themselves in the marketplace by their stance on animal testing. The Co-operative Group in the UK maintains a cosmetic-testing website,  which includes statements from all their suppliers about the extent of their animal testing.
European Union bans
Testing of cosmetics on animals is banned in the European Union (EU), after it agreed to phase in a near-total ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics throughout the EU from 2009, and to ban all cosmetics-related animal testing. However, cosmetics tested on animals outside the EU were still imported and sold until 2013.
Although the British Home Office stopped giving licences to test finished cosmetic products in 1998, compounds that have both cosmetic and medical uses, such as those in the "anti-wrinkle" preparations Zyderm, Restylane and Botox, are still bound by the regulations requiring animal testing. According to activists, a raid on a laboratory in 2004 revealed that the LD50 test is still used on every batch of Botox (a toxin that, when administered intravenously, is lethal to humans) to establish potency.
Cosmetics manufacturers who genuinely do not test on animals may now use in vitro screens to test for irritation or corrosion to the skin or eye, dermal sensitization, airway sensitization, endocrine disruption, LD50 and many more endpoints which can determine potential risk to humans with a very high sensitivity and specificity. Companies such as CeeTox specialize in such testing and organizations like the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), PETA and many other organizations advocate the use of in vitro and other non-animal tests in the development of consumer products.
- Animal testing on invertebrates
- Animal testing on non-human primates
- Animal testing on rodents
- The Three Rs (animals)
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