What is animal testing?


Cosmetics have long been part of many people’s life. The make-up applied stays on the skin for a whole day, being absorbed and lip products are sometimes swallowed. So, will these chemicals cause harm to us?

樓恩彤同學作品 : 動物無辜 美麗有罪

To ensure the safety of their products for human use, many cosmetics companies use animal experiments to test their merchandise and individual ingredients used. In laboratories, animals, often rabbits, as well as mice and rats, and other animals are used in these tests. Methods of testing include an array of experiments that are categorised differently based on the areas the cosmetics will be used for.

In these tests, live animals are forced to undergo different suffering and distress so that researchers can observe the effects the cosmetics have on tissues and organs. Often, animals are smeared with, injected or force-fed the potentially harmful substances and eventually killed at the end of experiments. As a matter of fact, animal testing cannot reliably predict the effects cosmetics have on humans as the reaction of a substance in an animal can be quite different from the reaction in a human. These experiments only bring endless pain and lasting suffering to animals.

Why are we against animal testing?
An animal test is any scientific experiment or test in which animals are used, causing pain and irreversible harm. One of the most common tests on animal is the Draize Test, an acute toxicity test devised by toxicologists John H. Draize and Jacob M. Spines. Initially used for testing cosmetics, the procedure involves the application of 0.5ml or 0.5g of a test substance to the eye or skin of a restrained, conscious animal, and then leaving it for a set amount of time before rinsing it and recording its effects. The observation period lasts for up to 14 days for signs of erythema and oedema in the animal’s skin, and redness, swelling, discharge, ulceration, haemorrhaging, cloudiness or blindness in the tested eye.

What are the harm done to animals?
Animals in laboratories are believed to be deliberately harmed. To test toxicity and hypoallergenic properties of beauty products, animals are inhumanely used in such experiments. Contrary to many people’s belief, the dosages of such potentially hazardous substances applied on animals can be lethal and are administered for a much longer time than we think. Some experiments require the animal to die as part of the test; while for those that survive, it is another set of excruciating experimentation and at the end, they are euthanised.

Laboratories are definitely no place for any animals. They are typically sterile, indoor environments in which animals are forced to live in captivity. They are denied any freedom of movement and control over their lives. Due to the severe stress caused by confinement, laboratory animals are often psychologically traumatised, displaying stereotypic or destructive self-directed behaviour.

Written by Candy Ngan, Education Executive of Non-Profit Making Veterinary Services Society