Manufacture over Mind: Animal Experimentation and Cosmetics

From cosmetics and skin care products to household cleaners, pesticides and prescription medications, cosmetic experimentation is a multi-billion dollar global industry thriving behind some of our most well-known brands.


Manufacture over Mind: Animal Experimentation and Cosmetics

Alayna Hansen


When it comes to animal cruelty in the occasional blockbuster film, it’s a simple kindness to ourselves when we consciously dismiss the reality of it actually happening in everyday life. At least, that’s what we’d like to think. Among greyhound racing, puppy farms, forced circus performing and the illegal trade of native wildlife to overseas black markets, animal exploitation still occurs at a growing rate, albeit concealed by those ‘in the business’ and profiteers.


Testing on animals for consumer research has continued to see thousands of rabbits, rats and other domesticated animals inhumanely exposed to harsh corrosives and chemicals whilst imprisoned in metal chambers; restricting all physical movement for long periods of time until records can be taken regarding the effects of the product. From cosmetics and skin care products to household cleaners, pesticides and prescription medications, this experimentation is a multi-billion dollar global industry thriving behind some of our most well-known brands.


Israel, Turkey, India, New Zealand and the European Union have all committed to eliminating animal testing, with the Australian federal government joining the pledge for a cruelty-free future as of July 3rd and introducing legislation to take effect on July 1st, 2017; allowing research facilities and retailers an adequate transition period. While awareness is increasing across global beauty and hygiene industries, many corporations still consciously choose to test on animals instead of utilising effective, harmless alternatives. As environmentally-conscious consumers and activists, it should be our responsibility to assist in promoting these substitute methods to ensure the decline of unnecessary animal cruelty. The time to act is now.




Draize Test

The Draize test was developed by Food and Drug Administration toxicologists John H. Draize and Jacob M. Spines in 1944 as a means to measure irritation and corrosion caused by chemicals in new cosmetics and personal care products. Tested on albino rabbits in full body restraints, so as to stop the relief of discomfort and interference with the experiment, substances are dripped into the eye or spread over exposed skin for several hours and then observed over consecutive weeks. Known to cause swelling, intense burning, ulceration, bleeding and even blindness, these tests produced notoriously unreliable and varied results across animal subjects.

Animal Experimentation and CosmeticsIn a laboratory environment so far from their natural underground burrows, factors such as bright artificial light and constant noise from nearby machines also caused distress and in turn weakened the immune system; increasing susceptibility to illness and premature death. Rabbits were specifically chosen for this test, as well as in most animal experimentation methods, for their small size, docility and fast breeding. Unlike humans, their lack of tear ducts also renders it impossible to cry out the chemical substance.


Guinea Pig Maximisation Test (GPMT)


Trialling the skin sensitivity of guinea pigs as test subjects, experimenters inject animals with a substance multiple times and measure allergic reactions over a period of time. Like the Draize test, skin may become ulcerated, inflamed and bleed in exposed areas, while an induced adjuvant enhances the immune reaction and painful symptoms. Initially devised by B. Magnusson and Albert Kligman in 1969, 15% of animals tested must exhibit a reaction for the test to be deemed positive.


However, this test was superseded by the murine local lymph node assay, whereby test substances are applied to the ears of mice in order to measure the immune response; correlating with the number of lymphocytes isolated from the lymph node to likewise account for the amount of skin sensitisation. Although this results in the ultimate death of the animal, the test uses fewer animals than the GPMT and less time to administer – yet alternatives without the requirement of animal testing have been developed.


Lethal Dose 50 Per Cent


Acute toxicity testing, such as the infamous lethal dose 50 percent (LD50), still remains a common practice in discerning the strength of toxic chemicals on animal subjects. As a single short-term exposure, the substance is administered to rodents in extremely high doses via forced inhalation, feeding, or skin contact, with severe symptoms including convulsions, seizures, paralysis or bleeding from the nose and mouth. Increasing amounts are continued until half (50 percent) of the animals die. Although this test has been measured since the World War I era, modern adaptations of the procedure neither scientifically certify nor confirm predicted chemical effects on humans. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Australia (PETA), an international study investigating the results of rodent LD50 tests for 50 chemicals discovered that these tests only produced 65 percent accuracy in predicting toxicity for human consumption.


Brands that Don’t Test


We have compiled a list of our 5 favourite brands that NEVER test on animals. You can click here to check them out.

For a more comprehensive list, you can visit Choose Cruelty Free, who have outlined accredited Australian companies that have signed a legally-binding contract to prohibit all forms of animal experimentation in the production of new skincare ranges and household cleaners. Indications of various categories through abbreviations for vegans (v), vegetarians (vt) and products that meet the non-animal testing rule but contain animal ingredients or killed insects (bp) allow for a quick and easy recognition of suitable, animal-friendly methods for the consumer market. CCF Licensees paying an annual fee are also permitted to use the CCF Rabbit Logo as a visual declaration to commit to safe testing practices.

From renowned cosmetics and skincare brands like Australis, Innoxa and Jamie Durie’s People for Plants, to haircare stylists De Lorenzo and rosehip oil specialists Sukin, this comprehensive yet by no means definitive list is the greatest guide for all Australians wanting to minimise their vicarious contributions to animal experimentation.

A 2016 winter pamphlet of this list is also available for pdf download here.


Brands that Do Test


While alternatives to harmful procedures do exist, including utilising cell and tissue cultures and skin grown from human cells, the extent of regarded companies that practice animal experimentation for their products is astounding. Animals Australia has assembled a list of cosmetics and household products that have internationally tested on animals and are stocked on national shelves as everyday beauty and cleaning basics for countless Australian families. The list below is expanded here.




Head & Shoulders
Herbal Essences
Oral B




Cold Power
Glen 20
Mr Sheen


Government Action


Inquiry into public opinion by Humane Research Australia (HRA) found that an overwhelming majority (85 percent) opposed testing on animals and 81 percent supported bans on the sale of cosmetics manufactured with previous animal experimentation.
HRA’s partnership #BeCrueltyFree Campaign with the Humane Society International has also called for government action; a call to arms that came to fruition when both federal parties proposed legislation to restrict imported, animal-tested products and eliminate animal testing for national cosmetic research.

The Australian Labor Party drafted the Ethical Cosmetics Bill on February 29th this year. As an amendment to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989, the regulation outlined four new offences in relation to both national and international cases of animal-tested products. However, the bill will not proceed after a re-elected Turnbull government.

As of June 3rd, the Coalition pledged to introduce legislation that will ban animal testing for cosmetic purposes. Announced by Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash and Mr Ken Wyatt AM MP, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the bill will “bring us into line with the EU and produce consistent streamlined policy…” regulating animal testing to “ethically justifiable circumstances” such as clinical trials, medicinal drug development or related studies. Liberal Member for La Trobe Jason Wood, who last year received an award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, likewise welcomed the statute as a “positive step for consumers and Australia’s cosmetics marketplace”.


How You Can Help


We are in an age of scientific development that is advancing far beyond preconceived ideas at an exponential rate. Technology advancements even 5 years ago are considered “old-fashioned” or “behind the times”. So why should animal testing be any different? Why should domesticated animals, often loved as pets, be injected with poisonous, lethal acids and carcinogenic chemicals for the profits of exploitive companies hiding behind a commercialised, well-known brand and reputation? Australia has made a small step in the right direction, yet it will take more determination by dedicated conservationists to achieve a worldwide pledge to abandon archaic testing and embrace a cruelty-free future.

You can assist the RSPCA in their social media campaign #MakeoverTheWorld, dedicated to ending testing on animals by worldwide cosmetics brands here.

Pledge to use products that do not use animals as test subjects with Animals Australia here.

Read our article on the leniency of Australian Welfare Laws here.

You can download our mobile game app, World of the Wild! Click here to download.

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