What is Animal Testing? How is it Cruel?

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Last Updated on 02/22/2022

Many if not all, are unaware of animal testing, especially in cosmetics. Just like you, I didn’t know about animal cruelty being done on such a massive scale. This article is in regards to animal cruelty in the beauty and related industries.

A rabbit really needs not to prove whether the deodorant is keeping his armpit odor-free for us to try. Or is the mascara making his eyes look flattering enough. Doesn’t make sense. Or worse testing the ingredients which majorly happens.

Animal Testing 101 – How is it Cruel?

animal testing


Here are the other parts of the Guide, if you’re interested in further reading:

1) What is Cruelty Free?

2) How To Go Cruelty-Free?


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,

“animal testing, animal experimentation, animal research, in vivo testing, and vivisection” means “Operation on a living animal for experimental rather than healing purposes; more broadly, all experimentation on live animals”.

The animal experiment is a method to test the effectiveness and safety condition of a newly found technology. For example medicine or simply a cosmetic. It is often tagged as a necessary back-end process. Mostly done for ensuring a product’s benefits and side-effects on humans. Sometimes, business houses or pharmacies perform animal testing on their own.

Some companies also outsource here. They hire university research facilities, testing laboratories, or even defense research labs to do animal-based testing. For application-based products, testing occurs on both the constituting ingredients and the final product. For e.g. medicines, skincare, hair-care, or makeup.

Simply put,

Animal experimentation or research refers to experimentation (mostly inhumane) carried on animals as test subjects.

Why is Animal Testing done?

When a brand or a research team comes up with some new item for human use, they have to run some safety tests on them before commercializing. In maximum cases, the result of the testing is not predictable. So, the common practice is to use vertebrates and invertebrate living animals before human trials. It includes fishes, beetles, rats, guinea pigs, apes.


animal testing

How is it cruel?

‘Animal research’  is termed as a ‘cruel’ practice for multiple reasons. The majority of the testing facilities treat animals as mere testing subjects. They are subjected to certain actions such as:

  • Injected, force-feed or force-inhaled with highly toxic substances
  • Perform genetic manipulation
  • Notch and clip their ears wounded purposely
  • Deprived of food & water
  • Made to go through extreme suffering like – live dis-sectioning.

Some of these tests cause irreversible damages to their bodies. Finally, they are mass-euthanized using carbon-dioxide asphyxiation or neck-breaking at the end of the testing procedures.

Every year we lose millions of animals so that mere face cream or mascara can reach the customers.

If this is not cruelty then what is?

PETA says, every year approximately 100 million animals die in animal testing. 75% of them are from pharmaceuticals or drug testing laboratories. The remaining 25% comes from cosmetic testing.

Out of these, 8 million go through severe pain. Followed by death. 10% of them are left to die without any painkillers to relieve their pain.

What is Cruelty Free

Is animal testing still happening?

Sadly yes. Throughout the globe, it still happens on a large scale.

From recent research, we came to know that animal experimentation for cosmetics is more or less insufficient to determine the safety of an application-based skin, hair, or makeup product. Human skin is different from animal body parts. Many countries and brands still rely on cruelty-based tests greatly.

On the brink of protests and campaigns by animal welfare societies, many brands have stopped testing their products on animals on their own. But they still hire third parties for testing.

For some countries like China, cruelty-testing is a mandatory process for imported products, especially cosmetics. Brands have to fund these inhuman practices to get entry into these countries.

Scientific Alternatives

Not one, there are multiple alternatives to it. Britannica and Wikipedia both offer great insight into scientific alternatives to animal experimentation.

1. Computerized modeling or ‘In Silico Modeling

This technique constructs a human in-machine model. It uses scientific facts regarding human biology and the progression of diseases. PETA funds one such procedure. It is the Quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs).

2. Human Cell-based ‘In Vitro Testing

In this process, the human cells are extracted and preserved outside. This happens by mimicking their identical environment. These living cells are then fed with experimental substances instead of animals. MatTek’s EpiDerm and CeeTox are by far the best skin simulations. L’Oreal has one such technology to test their ingredients.

3. Volunteer-based Testing

Volunteer-based testing fetches the best results in both drug & cosmetic testing. Here a number of selected volunteers with their consent, apply a microdose of the test substance. Then highly sensitive imaging tools observe. The Body Shop uses this method on a large scale.

Cruelty Free Quote

Some Testing Facts:

1. The oldest record of testing dates back to Greece in the 2nd and 4th centuries BC.
2. Second-century Roman physician Galen is considered the “father of vivisection”.
3. Of every year statistics only 10% of the test animals are included in official documents in the US.
4. Skincare and cosmetics are tested on shaved skin or eyeballs of animals.
5. Over 90% of cruelty tested products fail on human testing.

Read further:

Difference Among Cruelty Free, Vegan & Organic?

How to Identify Cruelty Free Cosmetics?

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