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The Truth About Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

A couple of years ago, a game-changing term finally broke through my consciousness: Cruelty-free. I was an ethical vegetarian and loved to volunteer at the local kitten rescue, but the reality of cosmetic animal testing remained hidden behind my mind’s backdrop—It just wasn’t something I wanted to consider during my Sephora sprees.


Then, one fateful article about cruelty-free products caught my attention and I fell down a clickhole on the issue. The more I read, the harder it became to ignore my conscience.

The inconvenient truth is this: Many companies that develop cosmetic and personal care products practice vivisection, meaning they test them for safety on animals like mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, dogs—the list goes on. And we’re not just talking about giving these creatures a quick lather and rinse with the latest volumizing shampoo. Scientists drip chemicals onto the animals’ skins and in their eyes in order to gauge irritation. They even force feed animals large amounts of certain products to determine the lethal dosage. Seriously, WTF?! I finally had to, figuratively, look those bunnies and beagles in the eyes and decide I could no longer put my vanity ahead of their welfare—or their lives. Cruelty-free mascara or bust!

Is animal testing really necessary?

There’s no reason for cosmetic animal testing to continue in the U.S. It’s not required by the FDA and it’s already been banned in Europe. The tests aren’t even reliable since there’s no way of being sure that humans and animal subjects will have identical, or even similar, reactions to chemicals.  Fortunately, there are almost fifty animal-free tests that use human cells and tissue run through computer models.  These tests have been developed and strictly validated by scientists at private companies, universities, and government agencies.

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