Animal Testing Timeline

Animal testing for cosmetics has a long, chequered, history worldwide. Animal welfare advocates have been campaigning to stop the practice, though, and progress has been made both towards finding alternatives and to banning cosmetics products tested on animals. Check out our timeline on the history of animal testing for cosmetics, its alternatives, and the countries that have made progress towards banning it, below.

A Focus on the Future

In a recent conversation with Monica Engebretson, North America Campaign Manager at Cruelty Free International, we first asked what she feels the future is going to look like for cosmetic testing on animals globally. In reply she told us, “Cosmetics testing on animals is going to be a thing of the past. Future generations will look back on, and shake their heads in disbelief at, at the notion that animals were ever made to suffer for the sake of beauty products. Non-animal tests will continue to outpace animal tests in both efficiency and accuracy and economic viability.”

We then enquired as to her opinion on the best alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics, and her answer was very interesting indeed - “Because modern non-animal tests are becoming so accurate, affordable and widely available, they are increasing as more mainstream and becoming the go-to tests. They almost aren’t considered “alternative” anymore – they are the standard. And since animal tests were never very good at predicting human response, it’s hard to select a “best” non-animal replacement. Every test that has eliminated animal suffering is a winner.” She then added, “One major way technology is shaping the future of cosmetics testing is speed. Modern non-animal tests are much faster than the (now) outdated animal tests. Non-animal tests for skin and eye irritation can be conducted in a day, whereas the corresponding rabbit tests take two to three weeks. Similarly, one of the skin sensitization tests can be conducted in one day, whereas the corresponding test on mice takes a least six times that.”

With regard to the global progression of banning cosmetic testing on animals she told us, “The global move away from the use of animals for cosmetic testing is an example of how public opinion and consumer power can be the driving forces in influencing corporate behavior and legislative initiatives that ban animal testing for cosmetics.” And when it comes to the theories that ‘non-living’ models will never be capable of replicating all of the uses we have for animals in laboratories, she was happy to tell us that, “According to the National Academy of Sciences, “Today, toxicological evaluation of chemicals is poised to take advantage of the on-going revolution in biology and biotechnology. This revolution is making it increasingly possible to study the effects of chemicals using cells, cellular components, and tissues – preferably of human origin – rather than whole animals.[1]”

[1] National Academy of Sciences 2007. Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and Strategy. Report in brief prepared by the National Research Council based on the committee’s report. Retrieved from https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/Xj9WCMQq1s5G1r4WfwQTXQ?domain=dels.nas.edu

Our final question centered around the idea that people tend to dismiss animals as being sentient beings, whereas those with domestic pets treat them like family members, to which she replied, “I don’t think that most people dismiss animals as sentient beings. To the contrary, the laboratory use of animals has long been an ethical issue of public concern. Ethical concern about the use of animals in testing has been a compelling factor in the development of modern non-animal tests. Multiple polls show that public acceptance of the use of animals in testing has sharply declined in recent years. I think this is a result of an increased understanding that all animals used in laboratories are no different than the beloved companion animals they share their homes with.”

As the first global cosmetics company to campaign against animal testing we at The Body Shop simply won’t rest until it is a thing of the past. And frankly, like Monica, we can see no good reason for it to continue – and so many for it to stop right now. Will you sign our petition and join the fight?