There’s a viral film on animal testing that’s been going around in social media recently.
We have been using cosmetics since we were babies.
Shampoos, conditioners, perfumes, deodorants, make-up, and other personal care products— they’re all part of our daily lives. At what time did you stop and think, “Are these products really safe? And if they’re considered safe, how do we know they’re safe?”
This brings us to the issue of cosmetic animal testing.
The regulations on animal testing
As required by regulations worldwide, the products that consumers buy must be safe and effective.
Specifically, the Philippines and other ASEAN member countries adopted the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive (ACD) wherein it is required that a qualified Safety Assessor conducts an “assessment of the safety for human health of the finished product, its ingredients, its chemical structure and its level of exposure.”
Based on the ASEAN Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of a Cosmetic Product, finished product testing does not require the use of toxicological tests on animals.
Sadly, even though this is the case and there are a lot of alternative methods available that outperform animal tests, manufacturers still conduct these tests. They might not also do the testing themselves but get a third-party laboratory to do the testing for them.
Likewise, we must note that even if animal testing of finished products could be banned, it can still occur in other product development stages, particularly involving raw materials, if there’s a legal requirement.
An example is in the European Union where a total ban on animal testing for cosmetic products and their raw materials conflicted with the REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).
REACH Regulation still requires animal testing for certain chemicals—some of which are raw materials for cosmetics.
Meet Ralph, a rabbit tester
Last April 7, 2021, Humane Society International (HSI) released a short film entitled, “Save Ralph“.
The viral stop-motion mockumentary shows us the heart-breaking realities of cosmetic animal testing through the story of Ralph, a rabbit working as a tester.
Like Ralph, rabbits and other animals get subjected to various types of tests which include the rubbing of chemicals onto their shaved skin and dripping chemicals on their eyes without pain relief.
There are also tests that involve feeding the animals doses of chemicals for months to check if they will result in any illnesses, birth defects, or cancer.
Moreover, there’s the lethal dose test wherein labs administer high doses of chemicals to rats to determine the dose that causes death.
‘Beauty’ at the expense of other creatures’ lives
Imagine being alive just to experience pain and ingest chemicals all the days of your life, and then you are “mercifully” killed when you are of no use anymore.
As a pharmacist, I have first-hand experience when it comes to animal testing way back during pharmacy school. Trust me, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. (Maybe it was worse for a classmate of mine who was vegan.)
Now that I’m working in cosmetic regulatory affairs, it’s devastating to know that thousands of animals suffer and die every year for the sake of ‘beauty’ due to outdated practices and regulations.
Rabbits lose their sight just for us to wear that glamorous cat-eye look and get gorgeous lashes.
I even remember an issue before about the use of mink fur for false eyelashes.
Imagine stripping an animal of its fur just to look “beautiful” and “trendy” for a few hours—unbelievable! Just hundreds of years ago, we were applying lead and mercury on our skin just to look pretty.
[Read: My Organic Hair Care Routine]
Humans can learn and create innovative solutions. There are kinder alternatives that we can think of and do. There are amazing developments in science and technology already which have made non-animal testing options possible.
We’ve come so far. We can certainly outgrow these practices that harm our fellow creatures.
How to save Ralph from animal testing and choose cruelty-free cosmetics
Save Ralph invites you and me to pause, reflect, and empathize with these poor animals.
So, what can we do as consumers?
- Educate ourselves and others about cosmetic animal testing and cruelty-free products. Check out online resources from these organizations advocating against animal testing: Humane Society International, The Leaping Bunny Program, and PETA.
- Shop cruelty-free cosmetics. Make sure to learn how to distinguish real cruelty-free products. Look for the logos of the Leaping Bunny and PETA on the product packaging. You can also ask the manufacturer or distributor of the products you’re interested in if the product is indeed cruelty-free and no third-party labs conducted the testing for them.
- Sign a petition calling for a total ban on cosmetic animal testing. HSI especially encourages viewers to sign a petition urging ASEAN countries to ban cosmetic animal testing.
Visit https://www.hsi.org/saveralphmovie/ to learn more about animal testing and what you can do to end it. If you haven’t watched Save Ralph yet, you can watch it here.
ASEAN Cosmetics Directive
ASEAN Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of a Cosmetic Product
FAQs on Cosmetics Testing of The Humane Society of the United States
Cosmetics Testing Q & A of Humane Society International