While animal testing has existed in some shape or form for quite some time, the history of animal testing for cosmetic purposes is not very long. For a long time, there were no rules or requirements about ingredients in cosmetics. It was not until the 1930s, after a permanent eyelash dye caused blindness in 16 women and the death of one, that a law concerning the regulation of cosmetics was passed in the US, compelling companies to start testing their products on animals.
In 1944 the Draize eye and skin irritancy tests were developed as a way to regulate cosmetics and test their safety before they went on the market. The Draize eye test is a test to access eye irritation chemicals cause. Rabbits are restrained and the chemical put in one of their eyes. The eyes are then evaluated after one hour and then every 24 hours for two weeks. This test is often very painful to the rabbits, as they often lead to bleeding, ulcers, and even blindess, and the test subjects are likely to be killed when the experiment is complete. The Draize skin irritancy test determines the level of damage chemicals cause to skin. For this test two patches of a rabbit’s skin are shaved and the chemical placed on one of the patches.
These tests have been criticized, as rabbit eyes produce less tears than human eyes and are differently structured. Differences in anatomy and skin structure also means that the data gained from the animal testing does not apply to humans. Even so these tests, along with others such as the Acute toxicity test and the Dermal penetration test, are still used today.
In this time people are more likely to support cosmetic brands that are cruelty free. And now that many chemical and cosmetics have already been tested on animals it has become easier for companies to claim they ‘do not test on animals’ as they already have information from prior animal tests. This also makes it easier for companies to find alternatives to animal testing to test the products as most of the ingredients have previously been tested and approved.
While animal testing is used in multiple fields, such as medicine, those tests can usually be justified, as they are done to improve human health or to keep humans alive. Animal testing in cosmetics however most often results in animals suffering and dying just so that humans can look good. That is hard to justify, especially now that information exists about a lot of chemicals, and alternative methods exist.
People are becoming more aware of animal cruelty, and many makeup and beauty influencers on youtube and snapchat have started boycotting all products from companies that test on animals, and therefore many companies are turning to cruelty free testing methods.
More and more countries are passing laws to control or ban cosmetics that are tested on animals and hopefully animal testing in cosmetics will end completely in the near future.
Below you can see a timeline of countries that have banned animal testing in cosmetics.