Animal Testing – The Dark Side of Beauty

by Annette J Beveridge

Annette J Beveridge - Author, Publisher, Journalist

In what is seemingly a backward step for Britain, the government is contemplating expanding animal testing for cosmetics. Banned in 1998, the decision was made by the then Labour government. This decision made Britain world leaders on this issue. Now, regrettably, they are reconsidering this policy decision potentially aligning themselves with the appeals board of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Animal testing is understandably a sensitive subject. Many people feel that this is an abject and unnecessary act of cruelty. Why put animals through such an intensive and painful process when the test results are not likely to be the same as per human reaction? A petition, created to express concern has over 200,000 signatures and the government responded in August 2021 stating:

“Scientific research using animals is vital in understanding how biological systems work in health and disease. Government oversees development of 3Rs techniques and delivery of robust regulation.”

This generalised statement does not mean that the legislation will change so there is still time to voice your concerns.

Campaigners specify that if the UK adopts the ruling from the ECHA, testing on animals may be more extensive. Currently, regulations in the UK specifies that where there is no alternative to animal testing and if necessary to protect either environment or workers, then animal testing can be conducted.

Rats, mice, rabbits and guinea pigs are bred specifically for testing. Their lives are miserable. Confined to a small cage, they endure a life of absolute suffering. One test for a cosmetic ingredient may require over 1,000 animals. Rabbits (including those pregnant) are forced to eat a cosmetic ingredient for a month. After this, the rabbit and any unborn babies are likely to be killed. There are even tests to discern whether a foetus will become deformed within the womb as a result of tests. Some animals will be born but are likely to be used in the testing process too. Guinea pigs will be shaved in places and ingredients rubbed directly into the skin to determine whether any allergic reactions occur. Mice have ingredients painted onto their ears and are monitored to see if any allergic reaction. These animals are all killed afterwards.

The testing process is wholly unpleasant. Imagine the animal’s eyelids being pulled open and chemicals applied directly to the eyes. The chemicals remain in the eyes and are not even washed out. There is no freedom for these tortured animals.

It is not justifiable for animals to suffer for cosmetic testing as there are sufficient products on the market already and ingredients that have been deemed safe.

Despite the ban, it is true to say that companies can still sell products in the UK or EU even if the ingredients have been tested on animals providing the tests do not quantify safe to use for UK or EU standards. Tests may be carried out in countries such as China but they must rely only on data from non-animal test methods if selling products in the EU/UK. The ECHA continues to require new tests on animals for any chemicals used exclusively as ingredients in cosmetics under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation. If this occurs, it will reduce the effectiveness of the ban as it contradicts the intent of the current legislation.

Animal testing is the dark side of an industry that focusses on beauty. There is nothing beautiful about the testing that occurs and more people need to realise what is happening and opt for those products not associated with animal testing. There is still time to object and to write letters or sign petitions to prevent the government from altering legislation. Unless they realise the will of the people to stop what can only be deemed animal cruelty, then, the ban will be lifted and we will be back to square one.

If you are interested in nature or wildlife, take a look at our environmental and nature newspaper or, our wildlife site.

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