The use of laboratory animals is among the most common practices in experimental pharmacology, cosmetics production, and even weapons development. Although this approach to testing is extremely popular nowadays, the appropriateness of animal tests in the cosmetics industry belongs to highly debatable topics capable of polarizing society.
Despite the benefits of animal testing in drug development, its use in cosmetics toxicity checks should be banned and replaced with alternative methods of testing.
Animal testing in cosmetics does not solve vitally important problems. The use of animal subjects in experimental pharmacology can potentially save millions of lives due to the ability to simulate humans (Vinardell and Mitjans 1). In contrast, according to expert testimony, products in the cosmetics industry are “rarely associated with serious life hazards” (Vinardell and Mitjans 1). With that in mind, the use of laboratory animals in cosmetics testing is not an essential practice.
The amount of animal suffering during tests is incompatible with the benefits for consumers.
Eye irritation tests conducted on rabbits involve discomfort in the eyes even if the tested products are safe, which is due to the peculiarities of this procedure (Vinardell and Mitjans 4). Laboratory animals’ suffering is a lot more severe than the outcomes for people when some products get into their eyes. It is true at least because people are free to wash their eyes to reduce discomfort or get medical help. In contrast, helpless test animals can do nothing and have to suffer from pain for days – no painkillers are given to them (Vinardell and Mitjans 4).
There are testing methods that do not involve the exploitation of test animals.
The number of alternative approaches to cosmetics testing has increased since the beginning of the 2010s (Vinardell and Mitjans 5). According to Vinardell and Mitjans, there are promising technologies for non-animal skin irritation assessments such as the use of reconstructed human skin (5). Despite the availability of alternative methods, including tests on human volunteers and reconstructed tissues, animal cosmetics testing is still widely used in many countries. Importantly, speaking about the global banning of such tests and their consequences, the decision can create the need to improve bioengineering technologies that are advantageous to people.
The banning of product testing using animals can be a cost-saving measure.
The supporters of animal testing sometimes refer to the money matter in their arguments, claiming that alternative technologies can be costly (Rowan 449). The use of test animals is associated with significant expenses since they need fresh food and specific housing conditions to be healthy before experiments (Rowan 451). Thus, the decision to ban cosmetics testing in animals can lead to a more effective distribution of financial resources. Instead of spending money on animals that are killed right after cruel experiments, these resources can be used to support the development of non-animal systems that improve the state of medical knowledge.
In many instances, the effectiveness of animal tests is unsatisfactory.
For toxicity testing, the predictive power of test data obtained using rodent research subjects does not exceed sixty-three percent (Rowan 452). This example demonstrates that animal testing is not as effective as it is claimed to be. Scientists’ growing dissatisfaction with the practical outcomes of animal tests supports the idea of banning this practice in the cosmetics industry.
In the end, the banning of cosmetics safety tests in animal subjects is a good idea from both moral and rational viewpoints. In particular, it can help reduce the unnecessary suffering that does not serve a higher purpose compared to the tests of life-saving drugs. Moreover, the decision to replace such practices with alternative testing methods can facilitate further development of bioengineering and improve the use of resources.
Rowan, Andrew N. “Ending the Use of Animals in Toxicity Testing and Risk Evaluation.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, vol. 24, no. 4, 2015, pp. 448-458.
Vinardell, Maria, and Montserrat Mitjans. “Alternative Methods to Animal Testing for the Safety Evaluation of Cosmetic Ingredients: An Overview.” Cosmetics, vol. 4, 2017, pp. 1-14.