Standards for Cruelty-Free Testing
Unfortunately, there are no federal standards for what constitutes cruelty-free cosmetics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't approve ingredients or require any specific testing of cosmetics. Instead, they rely on information about products already on the market. If they are deemed unsafe, the FDA enforces safety requirements by pulling them from distribution. To really understand how your makeup is tested, some homework is required.
How to Find Cruelty-Free Cosmetics
Remember that makeup advertised as natural isn't necessarily cruelty-free. One way to research whether a product is cruelty-free is to read the complete list of ingredients and look them up online. You can also contact manufacturers directly to ask for information about their definition of cruelty-free and their testing methods. If a company is open to inspection by monitoring organizations, that's also a good sign. The more people who exclusively buy cruelty-free cosmetics, the harder companies will work to find alternatives to animal testing.
Some makeup companies take it a step further. Not only are products made without animal testing, but they have no animal-derived ingredients. However, you should be cautious when buying vegan beauty products because it's not a given that they will be cruelty-free. There are certifications that give you confidence a vegan beauty product is cruelty-free, and it's a good idea to look for a logo from one of them. A cosmetic distributor should be willing to answer your questions about the manufacture and testing of their makeup and the ingredients used in it. If you can't get these answers, you can't take it for granted that vegan means cruelty-free.
Checking to see if a product is endorsed by an organization that monitors beauty products for animal testing is one way to verify whether it's cruelty-free. A few of these organizations are Leaping Bunny, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Certified Vegan. Leaping Bunny verifies that a company doesn’t use raw materials from suppliers that practice animal testing. PETA is perhaps the strictest verifier of makeup that's free from animal testing. Certified Vegan endorses only makeup that's made without any animal by-products and also not tested on animals.
Is Animal Testing Relevant?
Some people point to the fact that guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and mice are too genetically different from humans for test results to be valid. At one point, the FDA did require animal testing, but that's no longer the case. Considering the short, brutal lives that caged test animals experience, there are compelling reasons to eliminate the testing of cosmetics on them. The test results aren't always accurate, and new techniques for vetting cosmetics have been developed in place of using animals for testing.
Alternatives to Animal Testing
Computer modeling of biological reactions to compounds is a promising new field of study. The components of each ingredient are broken down to the molecular level, and the effect on human biology is predicted. It's hoped that, in the future, substances can be tested for human biological interactions without using any animal or human test subjects. In the meantime, the field of cell biology can reveal reactions to products using only a few human cells for study. Scientists have even found ways to make these cells grow into human skin and eye tissue for testing.
The Future of Cosmetic Testing
Currently, the Humane Cosmetics Act is proposed legislation being studied by the House Subcommittee on Health. Over thirty countries have implemented bans like this legislation, outlawing testing of cosmetics on animals. European cosmetic companies already fall under regulations that prohibit animal testing for the manufacture of cosmetics. Since countries overseas have been regulated for years, we may see some promising alternatives to animal testing from that part of the world.
Your Health and Beauty
The cosmetic industry is a vast and sprawling supplier of products to enhance your health and beauty. If buying cruelty-free cosmetics is important to you, there are ways to ensure that your makeup is produced in this way. Reading the ingredients on the label and researching them is the first step. Verifying claims of cruelty-free production is next. Hopefully, animal testing is on its way out, but until then there are monitoring organizations that can help you choose the types of beauty products that reflect your values.
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