Article by Shelley Norris
It seems as though many people are turning a blind-eye to the monstrosity of cosmetic animal testing when, ironically, vulnerable creatures are literally being blinded at its expense. Don’t be fooled by the vibrant colours and sweet perfumes of big-named brands Johnson & Johnson, Avon and Estee Lauder’s cosmetic products, as they all come at a serious cost. Let’s take a step inside the horror-house labs behind this cruel act, to educate ourselves and put a stop to this obsolete practice once and for all.
As hard as it is to believe, cosmetic animal testing, and animal testing in general for that matter, still occur in this era – even though non-animal testing techniques have been established and are widely available. So, instead of measuring how long it takes a chemical to burn away the cornea of a rabbit’s eye, manufacturers can now drop that same chemical onto cornea-like 3D tissue structures that have been produced from human cells. Dozens more cruelty-free tests alike have proven to be faster and more accurate at predicting human reactions to a product than animal testing has ever been. Yet somehow the sadistic morons who continue to test on animals cannot seem to recognise the – what I thought were very obvious – differences between a human’s and a rat’s anatomy. And so sadly, huge multiproduct manufacturers driven by fear of lawsuit and, inexplicably, frozen by inertia continue to burn, poison and blind animals in their futile experimentations.
Unfortunately, majority of society are aware that this outdated practice still occurs. However, it seems as though people find it easy to distance themselves from the cruel act because of the particular species being tested on, and more importantly, because they are unaware of what cosmetic testing truly involves. Mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs are victims of this practice, and although these creatures have been deceptively labelled as disease-ridden, pests and plain old ‘OMG, totally ew!,’ the reality is that these creatures feel as much pain, physically and emotionally, as any other animal on this planet. So ask yourself this: Do you know what gruelling experiments these animals endure at the expense of your everyday beauty routine? If you answered: ‘Umm, ahh…no, not really,’ then here are some of the most common experiments conducted in cosmetic animal testing:
Draize testing is a procedure commonly used to determine possible dermal irritation from a particular substance. This torture technique – or ‘scientific experimentation’ as they like to sugar coat it – involves putting a substance (typically potentially hazardous chemicals) into the eye, or on the skin of an immobilised rabbit. Sounds f***ing terrible already, right? But wait, it gets worse! Observations of the rabbits’ reactions are then taken over a period of up to 72 hours. Yep, you heard it right; these poor little bunnies suffer for days and days covered in chemicals that may burn, poison and blind them.
Let’s use a little analogy to get the imagination flowing. Do you remember all those times you thought to yourself ‘I can totally handle no goggles in the pool’, and so you’d swim for hours and hours with your eyes open underwater just to impress your friends? But then you’d totally end up regretting it, because for the rest of the day your eyes were blood-shot red and stinging so bad it felt like they were on fire. Well, multiply that horrible experience by 100, and you have probably experienced something similar to the draize test. So yeh, it doesn’t tickle.
Also referred to as skin sensitisation testing, the guinea pig maximisation test is used to determine allergenic substances. Here, guinea pigs are made to look like naked mole-rats (which is horrific in itself) while chemicals are applied directly to the surface of their shaved skin. Occasionally, for a more torturous scientific evaluation, the same substances are injected underneath layers of skin. If you think that sounds totally disgusting, things are about to get bloodcurdling. Where guinea pig maximisation tests differ to standard skin sensitisation tests, is that it is an adjuvant-type test in which the allergenic state is enhanced. Adjuvants are used to boost the immune system, ensuring that the severity of the irritation during testing is maximal. So…they want them to suffer. The adjuvant typically used in this practice is known to cause inflammation, induration, pain and necrosis* at the site of the injection. Did someone say nasty, and totally ethically controversial?
Does everyone remember that time they experienced a horrendous case of food poisoning? Probably on holiday in Indonesia, relaxing on the beach somewhere and all of a sudden it feels like the devil wants to escape your body from all orifices? Hmm, not fun, right? Well neither are the similar symptoms produced by acute toxicity testing on vulnerable rats and mice. ‘Researchers’ (or the sadistic morons as I previously referred them) are ultimately trying to calculate the ‘lethal dose’ of a particular substance when performing this test. Typically, substances – which, of course, are inedible by our standards – are administered in extremely high doses via force-feeding, forced inhalation and/or absorption through the skin. So, it’s not long before their small bodies become completely poisoned and susceptible to the likes of diarrhoea, convulsions, paralysis, bleeding from the mouth and death. Acute toxicity testing – it’s not cute.
As humans we give our consent to participate in any form of scientific research, and we also have the legal right to withdrawal from these tests at any given time. Animals are not given this same right for the simple fact that they cannot talk. However, their visible pain and emotional stress speaks louder than words. It’s time to take a stand, and support cruelty-free brands. Stop feeding these horror-house labs and we will put a stop to this obsolete practice once and for all. For more information on animal testing, please visit peta.org or Animal Liberation.
* Necrosis: the death of most or all of the cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply
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