What People Don't Realize About Makeup

By: Ryan Reed Campbell | 2017-03-15

Cosmetics is measured globally as a $170 billion industry, according to a 2007 Eurostaf report. Face makeup, hair color, and nail polish are just a few products leading the industry’s sales in a competitive world. With this volume of products flowing in the industry, cosmetic companies are in a constant struggle of getting their products approved by organizations such as the FDA in a timely manner. Like other highly-competitive industries, cosmetics has turned to cutting corners to overcome this struggle.

There is a significant amount of testing that must be done on new products in order for them to be FDA approved. Because there are laws regarding human testing, this leaves the industry with two options: test on animals or conduct lab tests on human cells. Which one sounds cheaper to you?

Most of the major cosmetics companies test on animals. Revlon, Mary Kay, Maybelline, Aveeno, Almay, L’Oreal, St. Ives, Estee Lauder, Johnson and Johnson, Secret, Head and Shoulders, Pantene, TRESemme, Avon, and Clean and Clear are just a few of the many companies that regularly test on animals.

According to Humane Society International, the tests performed on animals include force feeding, forced inhalation, food and water deprivation, prolonged periods of physical restraint, the infliction of burns and other wounds to study the healing process, the infliction of pain to study its effects and remedies, carbon dioxide asphyxiation, neck-breaking, decapitation, or other means. Rabbits are often subject to the Draize eye test, which involves them being incapacitated with their eyelids held open by clips while shampoos and other products are dropped into their eyes to assess level of irritation. The commonly used LD50 (lethal dose 50) test involves finding out which dose of a chemical will kill 50% of the animals being used in the experiment. In other words, chemicals that are known to be lethal to animals are administered to the animals in varying doses to get the number to 50% with little to no regard for the lives of the animals. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in 2010 that 97,123 animals underwent painful testing without being given anesthesia. This number is comprised of 1,395 primates, 5,996 rabbits, 33,652 guinea pigs, and 48,015 hamsters.

Not all hope is lost for the cosmetic industry, however. There are many companies that would rather go out of business than disrespect life in the way these companies do. These companies are part of the ever-growing cruelty-free makeup movement.

The Whole Foods Co-op has the privilege of working with several cruelty-free makeup and cosmetics companies such as Acure, Alaffia, Andalou, Nourish Organic, EO, Derma E, Giovanni, Dr. Bronner’s, Badger, Gabriel, and Everyday Minerals, just to name a few. Most are certified organic as well due to the fact they operate on a philosophy of unconditional respect for the Earth as well as for those living on it. So not only are these companies selling cruelty-free makeup and cosmetics, they are living their mantra by being cruelty-free in all aspects.

Many who do not frequent the Co-op have no idea we sell cruelty-free hair color, eye and face makeup, and bath products. Can you imagine how long it would take to go through a supercenter’s cosmetics to find which ones are cruelty free? And is a supercenter’s store associate going to be an expert in which brands are cruelty-free and which are not? Probably not. Here at the Co-op, every single body care and makeup product is certified cruelty-free; no searching or label reading required!

So how do companies test their products if they aren’t testing on animals? There are many ways they can go about testing while remaining cruelty-free, and some of the methods depend on the products being tested.

One way is through microdosing. Human volunteers agree to be exposed to very small amounts of the product being tested and their blood and/or skin cells are tested for any adverse effects over time. Another method is in vitro testing, which is where the product is tested on human skin cell cultures in a petri dish. A third method is testing on artificial human skin made from lab-grown human skin cells. In fact, because these methods test on actual humans and human skin cells, they are more accurate and ensure greater safety for when the product is introduced to the general population. Being cruelty-free may have been difficult without these technologies in the past, but this is certainly not the case anymore.

Organizations such as PETA have exposed the horrors of animal cruelty in the cosmetics industry again and again, yet it is something that is seldom talked about in mainstream media. Maybe instead of degrading the companies that are not cruelty-free, we need to celebrate the companies that are. Maybe if enough people see that cruelty-free cosmetics are now widely available and aren’t a rarity you have to pay an arm and a leg for, we can change the way the cosmetics industry treats the Earth and its inhabitants as a whole.