The Cruelty of Beauty


This article is an excuse to post an image of a happy duck. He’d be even happier if animal testing was stopped for good… image by williamhartz

You’ve heard of animal testing. You know that it’s used in the cosmetics industry. You know what it has taken to get that pot of foundation into your make-up bag. Right? Ninety-day force-feeding experiments on mice. Reproductive toxicity tests which dose pregnant rabbits to see what malformations will be caused to the babies who are born. Forcing high doses of cosmetics into small animals to see if they develop cancer.

Suddenly, that pot of foundation isn’t looking so appealing.

Why, in a day and age where humane alternatives are not only viable, but often cheaper and quicker, are we still testing on animals locked in tiny cages, all for a face mask? This is the story so far.

In 1976, the ‘Cosmetics Directive’ came into play. This defined cosmetics as a product which comes into contact with external parts of the human body to “clean, perfume, protect, keep in good condition, change appearance or correct body odours”, and was brought in to help regulate the standards of products. It also led to increased awareness of animal testing for vanity products – products that aren’t a necessity but a luxury. Throughout the 80s and 90s, there was a push for reform, and in 1993 the government listened.

They made a ban on testing on any cosmetic ingredient or product. Aware that this was a huge overhaul for many big companies, the new ban gave cosmetics groups five years to adapt. However, these big businesses campaigned for a delay, and succeeded. The ban was pushed back until 2000. Then, when that year came, it was delayed again, until 2002. And then – you guessed it – the date was pushed back yet again.

In 2009, the first half of the legislation finally came to pass. “Acute” tests such as deliberately lethal injections were made illegal, but ingredients and products could still be tested on live creatures. That half of the law was pushed back until 2013.

Twenty years since the ban was created, we are facing yet another delay. If they are successful, the anti-ban cosmetics companies will have until 2023 to change. That’s another ten years of unnecessary suffering. With organisations such as the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), PETA and Ceetox currently creating and improving a vast array of cruelty-free alternatives for the cosmetics industry, the UK must finally decide whether it can condone the current methods, or whether it will join countries such as the recently reformed Israel in creating beauty without cruelty.

So where do you come in? You have buying power. Check out for a list of companies who are already cruelty-free – there are plenty to choose from, so you can convert your whole bathroom cupboard to ethically sound scrubs and body butters. Supporting these companies not only gives you peace of mind, but often provides funds for campaigns and further research into humane testing alternatives.

You can also sign the petition to stop the delay of the ban in its tracks at Exercise your power to say no. Animals have waited too long – are you going to make them wait another ten years for their freedom?

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