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Cosmetics and Animal Testing: Avon, Mary Kay and Estee Lauder Are Not Cruelty Free


by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) Many caring individuals rely on labels that state that products are cruelty free to make compassionate decisions. When companies like Avon, Mary Kay and Estee Lauder put that label on their products, they are making a promise to consumers that their money will not go toward supporting cruel testing on animals. More than two decades have gone by since these three companies made that promise and now they are breaking it. Even worse, they are not changing their labels to truly reflect their shift away from being cruelty free.

Cosmetics and Animal Testing

There is a long history of testing on animals for cosmetic and personal care products. Animals are routinely injected untested substances and forced to endure burning chemicals being dripped into their eyes and rubbed on their skin just to see what happens, or even to confirm what researchers already know. Thousands of ingredients have already been tested on animals and people. Companies like Avon have a huge range of formulas known to be safe and yet continue to tweak their formulas and add a new ingredient or two purely for marketing purposes, just so they can say that they have a new formula that could draw customers in.

Consumers could at least rest assured that when companies who are cruelty free release new products, thousands of animals in laboratories did not suffer for the small possibility that a cosmetic product might work a little better. Now that assurance is being tested because China has a law that all products must be tested on animals to be sold in the country. It does not matter if a product comprises ingredients that are known to be safe and have gone through cruelty-free testing procedures. China won't budge and instead of sticking to their compassionate principles, Avon, Estee Lauder and Mary Kay began testing on animals again.

Despite supporting animal testing, the companies still claim to be cruelty free. Their original pledge to not test on animals made around 20 years ago included a loophole. The companies said that they would not perform animal testing unless the law demanded it. However, no one is forcing them to sell to China.

Alternatives to Animal Testing

More than 1,000 companies sell cosmetics and personal care products that never test on animals. Israel has banned animal testing completely for personal care and household products. Even products tested on animal in other countries are not allowed to enter the country. The European Union may soon follow suit.

Companies have around 8,000 safe ingredients to choose from and there are compassionate alternatives to animal testing that still lead to safe products for people to use. In vitro testing allows scientists to see how human tissue reacts to ingredients in a test tube instead of on bodies. Three types of in vitro tests have already been validated by the European Union but there are more. These include two tests for skin corrosion and one for photo toxicity. China may yet adopt these compassionate practices.

Being cruelty free should not be a marketing ploy or a way for companies to appear compassionate when they do not really care. Mary Kay, Estee Lauder and Avon may not be the only companies who say they do not support animal testing and yet pay labs to test their products on animals. Consumers need to be savvy with their shopping.

Sources for this article include:

Opposing Views
One Green Planet
The Conservative Papers
Animal Aid
The PETA Files

About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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