Every time a new ingredient is added, up to roughly 1,400 animals suffer to make sure that it meets the needed safety requirements.
Let’s do a quick test. Grab the cosmetic you last used. Your soap, cream, lipstick, or perfume. Flip it around and read out the ingredients.
There are quite a few names of chemicals in there that you don’t know how to pronounce, right? How are you sure that these are safe to use on your skin?
While you are probably not sure, you don’t mind buying and using it because you know it has to clear safety regulations before it’s made available in the market. But have you ever wondered how chemicals that sound this scary have cleared the safety tests?
The answer isn’t as pretty, it’s animal testing.
Products ranging from lipsticks to perfumes to soaps are often tested on rats, mice, rabbits, and many other animals before reaching our stores.
What is animal testing? What exactly are they tested for?
The word animal testing is likely to bring to mind images of your pet at the vet being poked with an injection. But that’s far from the reality of what it is.
Animal testing is an animal held in a cage in a sterile laboratory for years, if not their entire lifetime. Since the purpose of these tests is to ensure 100% safety on human skin, the animal is given toxic substances to see the exact point at which harm is caused or it dies. To put it simply, these tests are designed to kill them.
Many of the animals are bred in the labs and their existence is not even recorded. They are often isolated and live all their lives alone. Some animals like monkeys are trapped in forests in Asia, Africa, and South America and their offsprings are shipped to labs across the world for testing.
One common test is to force feed animals chemicals to kill them and examine how it has affected their organs and bloodstream. They are also made to inhale carcinogens, following which the decline in their health is studied for up to two years and then they are killed. They are often exposed to radiation, their organs are surgically removed to cause damage, and sometimes they are deliberately subjected to frightening situations to create anxiety and depression.
Some tests are done by rubbing chemicals on bare patches of an animal’s skin, injecting lethal amounts of it into their blood, or dabbing their eyes with it. The animals that survive these procedures are also killed through asphyxiation or breaking their necks.
But isn’t testing important to make sure products are safe
Well, all products have to be tested before sold for human use but the unfortunate truth about animal testing is that despite this rigorous and time-consuming testing, the results still often vary on humans.
This is because a different species cannot show the exact response that we will have to a substance.
The environment a human is in also plays a vital role in how the substance will react on them, rendering a test done in a sterile lab quite pointless. Animal tests are also highly variable and difficult to interpret.
Is there an alternative to animal testing?
Glad you asked, non-animal alternatives can combine human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models to give us much more relevant results in half the duration. These tests are also much more cost effective than testing on animals.
The world is slowly starting to take notice of the drawbacks of animal testing. A few alternatives being adapted in its place are:
Using already tested ingredients
Over 5,000 ingredients used in cosmetic products already have a long history of safe use. Manufacturers can create new products from a list of these.
Human cells can be used to make 3D models of skin and organs. Technology has developed enough to help replicate skin of different age groups and ethnicities as well. Not only is this cruelty-free, but it’s also a lot more astute and time and cost effective. There are already 50 non-animals tests validated for use!
Using all natural ingredients
It’s important to remember that the only reason we need these tests is because of the harmful chemicals in these products. Cosmetics of any kind can also be made using natural ingredients that do no require any sort of testing to be proven safe. These products are kind to both our furry friends and our own skin and bodies.
We’ve progressed, but still, have ways to go
Many countries around the globe from the whole of the European Union to USA to Australia have banned animal testing. India was the second country in Asia to pass a law against it in 2013. But do you know that most of the big brands in today’s market, still continue to test on animals?
Although brands ranging from L'Oreal to MAC to Revlon claim to be cruelty-free, they have a clause in their legal terms stating that they will not test on animals unless it is required by a country’s law to do so. And all these brands sell in China, where it is required by law to test on animals.
So although products entering and being distributed in India and other such countries may not have been tested on animals, the same brands run animal tests to sell their products in the large market of China. So the brand itself is far from cruelty-free.
A step in the right direction
As individuals, businesses, and countries, we are still learning how to do better by our animals. While all the information can overwhelm us, the only way to create change is by starting somewhere and we have just the way for you to do it.
Start with one good decision.
Our soaps at Idam are made entirely from natural ingredients like turmeric, vetiver roots, and moringa leaves. We use coconut and sesame seed oil that is cold-pressed in traditional wooden crushers to retain all its natural benefits.
No animals were or ever will be harmed to test or make our products.
Each of our soaps is handcrafted with love, and we invite you to experience this pure, guilt-free indulgence!