Life&Style Writer Elizabeth Winter takes a look at animal testing in cosmetic brands, and why some companies are still getting away with it
In 2013, the European Commission introduced a ban on the retail of all cosmetics tested on animals, regardless of what country the tests were carried out in. Despite this ban and claims of brands, such as L’Oréal, who state that they do not ‘test any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals’, you will not see a cruelty free logo on their packaging due to the fact that L’Oréal is sold in places such as China, where animal testing is legally required. The EU legal terms surrounding cosmetic animal testing can therefore be manipulated as brands will imply they are cruelty free, when they are in fact funding animal testing across the globe in order to sell their products. Brands such as NARS, Clinique, Benefit and Maybelline all still pay for tests on animals in areas where it is legalised, such as China, using legal loopholes to avoid prohibition in the EU.
Animal testing can and has resulted in the suffering, mutation and death of hundreds of thousands of animals who have been removed from their natural habitat in place of a science lab. For the cosmetic industry, this process is primarily in the name of aesthetics and vanity, rather than medical research. Despite previous legal measures and ongoing opposition, ambiguities remain for brands to exploit and continue to work with manufacturers that use these processes, whilst being able to market their products in Europe.
Recently, Unilever, the British-Dutch consumer goods company, stated its support for the widespread ban of animal tested cosmetics. Owning brands such as Dove, Simple and Vaseline, they are Europe’s seventh most valuable company and their open position in the fight against animal testing is incredibly valuable for the movement’s progress. Unilever’s Chief Research and Development Officer stated that the acceleration of alternative approaches should therefore “remove any requirements for any animal testing for cosmetics anywhere in the world.” It is no question that in today’s society, where scientific and technological advancement is beyond the average person’s ability to comprehend, animal testing is archaic and inhumane for cosmetic products that are fundamentally a luxury rather than a necessity for human welfare.
Despite their being this potential for companies to skirt around the laws surrounding animal testing, there are also a number of chief brands to look out for that oppose this exploitation. Priding itself on its natural, ethical and sustainably sourced products, The Body Shop is well-known for its firm stance against animal testing. Recently, the company collected over 8 million signatures from customers worldwide in their ‘Forever Against Animal Testing campaign. Since being founded in 1976, the company has long been known for its multitude of positive operations concerning their environmental footprint, fair trade and equality, therefore investing your money into this brand is often likely to help fund another project and help create positive change. Alongside The Body Shop, Bare Minerals has never tested their products on animals, nor worked with any manufacturers that use animal testing. Their products: free of preservatives, oils, fragrances or damaging chemicals, are also ideal for sensitive or problematic skin.
Despite the widespread impression that testing cosmetics on animals is something of the past, the sad reality is that over eighty percent of countries still have no laws around animal testing. Although the European Commission initiated prohibition on cosmetic animal testing several years ago, the majority of companies use global markets and as a result are responsible in the manufacture of their products being tested on animals. There are a multitude of brilliant companies and charities that are constantly working towards changing how easily brands can exploit animal testing laws. As a consumer, it is important to remember that the most valuable asset you have is your money: simply looking for a cruelty-free logo on a product’s packaging will help dramatically in the movement towards humane cosmetic manufacture.