The True Cost of Vanity: Animal Testing in Cosmetics

Since 2013, testing on animals has successfully been banned in the EU. The outlawed process includes animals, such as mice and rabbits, being restrained while chemicals are rubbed into their shaved skin and eyes, being force-fed, and given high doses of chemicals to test how lethal they are. Afterwards, the animals are usually killed with no pain relief. The cost of suffering involved in the process is unfathomable – and it is all in the name of beauty. There are alternative, painless procedures that cosmetic testing can go through, so who should be held accountable for such a high price? Is it up to us as consumers to expose and boycott companies, or does the responsibility lie solely with businesses and the rethinking of their values?

Last year, NARS cosmetics expanded their business to the Chinese market where animal testing in cosmetics is part of the law, consequently losing their cruelty-free status. Although they tried to reassure customers in a post on Instagram with the claim that they ‘do not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except when required by law’, it seemed like a thinly veiled reflection of their true lack of interest in animal welfare, and it was a rather clear indicator of their priority for bigger profit margins.

The decision made by NARS leaves us with our own choices to make. We can, of course, boycott the company on moral grounds, continue to advocate against animal testing, and shop at companies that practice fairer and more ethical testing. Awareness is growing, as exemplified by The Body Shop when they received over 8 million signatures this year in a campaign to ban animal testing worldwide, and took it to the UN to push for global changes in the cosmetic industry. This is one of the biggest steps that has been taken so far and, although there are companies whose first concern is clearly capital, The Body Shop have brought this important ethical issue to the limelight in a way that is difficult for both consumers and businesses to ignore.

The question of why profit is valued over the inhumane treatment of animals needs to be asked continuously in order for any feigned ignorance to no longer be an excuse. The cost of vanity is still too high, and despite current efforts, it seems self-evident that the price is severely unjust. The denouncement of companies who do not adhere to cruelty-free standards needs to continue. On a global scale, it should be a collective effort from consumers and corporations alike.

[Tabitha Tinkler-Ferguson – @tabithatf]

[Image credit: Elena Roselli]


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