Using animals to test the safety of an ingredient isn’t just cruel and inhumane—it’s completely unnecessary. The safety of over 5,000 ingredients has already been established. Only new ingredients require testing, and even those tests don’t have to been done using animal experiments, some of which date back to the 1920s. Plenty of new technology exists to provide sound, effective, and reliable alternatives to animal testing. The most common types of animal testing for cosmetic companies include the eye irritancy tests (also known as the Draize test), skin irritancy tests, and acute toxicity tests like the LD-50. None of them are pretty—in fact, they’re downright violent. The Draize eye test dates back to the 1940s and is performed on rabbits because they have poor eye ducts that can’t adequately wash substances away. In this test, a substance is smeared into the rabbit’s eyes and then laboratory technicians wait to see if it becomes irritated. Rabbits may experience ulcers, bloody scabs, and swollen eyelids. Skin irritation tests are similar to Draize eye tests except the substance is placed on a shaved portion of skin instead of in the eye. The purpose of acute toxicity tests is to determine the consequences of being exposed to an ingredient, like a chemical, in extremely high amounts in a short period of time. The substance is usually given to rats through force-feeding, forced inhalation, or by putting it on their skin. One type of test, called the lethal dose 50 percent (LD-50) test, dates back to World War I. Animals are force-fed the substance in increased amounts until 50 of them die. None of these tests are necessary, though. There are many alternatives to animal testing that are not only friendlier for animals, but offer more reliable, specialized outcomes for humans. Irritation tests can be performed on reconstructed human skin, such as skin discarded from surgery, or human skin models. The validated EpiDerm test uses human skin models and is seen as a replacement for rabbit skin irritation tests. Donated human cadavers can measure at what rate chemicals penetrate human skin versus the skin of rabbits, which is markedly different from human skin. Bacterial cultures and tissue cultures can also replace animals. Computers and mathematics are also frequently used in research. There are software programs that stimulate the human body to the point of predicting the heart’s reaction to pharmaceuticals. Test-tube studies examine bacteria cells’ reaction to substances. Mathematics in the form of Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships (QSARs) can be used to predict biological activity and toxicity in an ingredient’s chemical structure. Humans can circumvent animal experiences by volunteering to help with patch tests, which determines whether an ingredient causes allergies or rashes. Here are some links to information about animal experiments and valid alternatives:

European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods reviews innovative alternatives to animal testing. Find out about exciting new technology to replace the torture of animals. Caring Consumer: A Guide to Kind Living features a list of which companies do--and don’t--test on animals. Also be sure to visit:StopAnimalTests.comVegan Society’s Animal Testing PageAmerican Anti-Vivisection Society: Animal Testing AlternativesJohn Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal TestingThe Humane Society of the United StatesThe Hidden Ingredient in Cosmetic Testing: Animal Suffering Born Free USA: What Do Those Labels Really Mean?Uncaged: Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide