Around 75%* of people in the EU and 79%** of people in the United States are against animal testing for cosmetics and support a law against this outdated and unneccessary practice.
Since 2009 there is even a testing and marketing ban in place for the EU, meaning no actual testing or selling of products that have been tested on animals within the EU or else where in the world.
Yet, there are still plenty of products that have been testend on animals on the European market, thanks to loopholes that allow tests on animals in China or other countries - as long as the data isn’t used to demonstrate product safety for EU standards. Furthermore, if a company is conducting animal tests in e.g. China for the Chinese market – animal testing in China is required (there have been developments in 2021, though: https://www.peta.org.uk/blog/cruelty-free-cosmetics-china/) – those products are still also sold in the EU. Other countries, like the US don't legally require animal testing for cosmetics, but the tests are still permitted.
You can see the dilemma and how the ban is not a guarantee for cruelty-free cosmetics, let alone a near end in sight for animal testing.
There are scientific limitations to animal tests (animals often respond differently than humans when exposed to the same chemicals) and results from animal tests can also be quite variable, even between two species (such as mice and rats) and difficult to interpret.
More importantly there are other ways.
Companies can use already tested and safe ingredients with a long history and no additional required tests. Or they can use any of the 50 non-animal tests that are already available, which can more closely mimic how humans respond to cosmetic ingredients and products; they are also often more efficient and cost-effective.
Since I feel like „animal testing“ is such a mainstream expression and doesn't really paint the picture, I want to go into a few details at this point - because it is not just an unneccesary but also cruel practice and those animals deserve to have their fate and stories heard and known.
Typically they use rats, mice, guinea pigs, or rabbits, who are purpose-bred in secretive facilities and who will never see the light of day or breathe fresh air. They are confined to cold and bleak cages in the laboratory with artificial light.
It's estimated that over 300,000 animals in China alone are used every year, but the global number is likely much higher. In the United States, a large percentage of the animals used in such testing (such as laboratory-bred rats and mice) are not counted in official statistics and receive no protection under the Animal Welfare Act.
Pregnant rabbits are force-fed ingredients before they are killed and disected to see if their offspring in the womb is deformed. For the Draize test rabbits are restrained, unable to move or wipe their eyes, while experimenters apply chemicals onto their eye. After the test is done, they are killed, usually by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation. For inhalation tests rats are squeezed into narrow tubes and forced to inhale substances for hours on end, sometimes daily for weeks or months. Then, they are killed and dissected.
Since there is no single globally accepted legal definition, the label „cruelty-free“ doesn't guarantee that a product has not been tested on animals or is vegan.
To differentiate: „cruelty-free“ means that none of the ingredients were tested on animals, whereas „vegan“ means none of the ingredients were derived from animals. So a vegan product can still have been tested on animals.
But let's get to the important part: What can you do to help end animal testing for cosmetics for good?
1. Obviously: Stop buying products that have been tested on animals
As these companies speak the language of money, we vote with our wallets. It has probably never been easier to avoid these products thanks to the internet and the following websites, who list companies that are truely „cruelty-free“ and don't conduct any animal tests. Cruelty-Free Kitty - List of Cruelty-Free Brands
As well as lists of companies who do still test on animals:
2. Let them know
The more complaints, the more pressure. Let companies know why you are boycotting them by sending E-Mails and urging them to stop this cruel practice. Cruelty-Free Kitty has an excellent guide plus E-Mail template you can use: Cruelty-Free Kitty - Make Brands Go Cruelty Free
3. Sign & share
It only requires a few minutes of your time to sign and share petitions and by spreading the word about an issue and collecting signatures that support a petition demanding change is like a snowball that is growing bigger and bigger until it can't be ignored anymore by the people in charge. Here are three petitions to start with, feel free to leave links in the comments if you have more!
While researching I found Suzana Rose's Cruelty-Free Kitty Website where you can find endless information about this topic, but also beauty tips and tricks. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Other Sources:
* https://www.tierrechte.de/2020/08/27/27-august-2020-repraesentative-umfrage-drei-viertel-der-eu-buerger-fuer-ausstieg-aus-dem-tierversuch/ ** https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/what-we-do/latest-news-and-updates/new-poll-reveals-us-united-against-cosmetics-animal-tests