Considering the comments posted on previous articles on The Punch, it’s safe to say that the issue of animal experimentation for medical research is a controversial topic, often generating strong views from largely polarised positions.

When it comes to the specific testing of cosmetics on animals however, clearly the jury is in. The vast majority of us consider it cruel and unnecessary to subject animals to painful tests merely for the sake of our own vanity.

In fact, in late 2008 Humane Research Australia commissioned a public opinion poll to gauge the public’s understanding and view of animal experimentation. As expected, 87 per cent of respondents were opposed to the use of animals in testing cosmetics.

In order to test the irritability, toxicity, carcinogenicity and teratogenicity (the ability to cause human birth defects) of non-essential products like a new lipstick, shampoo or even toilet cleaner (admittedly not a cosmetic), animals are subjected to very cruel and painful tests.

These can include the compound being tested by applying it to abrased skin, the eyes, and of course administrating the compound orally and/or intravenously.

Aside from the obvious pain caused to the animal by these procedures, stress is also caused from handling, restraint and other routine laboratory procedures, and yet, intricate differences in the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of chemicals between different species make animals inappropriate models to predict human outcomes.

What makes the issue even more unjust is that alternatives to these tests already exist and have proven to be more predictive.

You could be forgiven for thinking that such testing no longer occurs in this day and age. Companies might claim that their products are not tested on animals. That’s not to say however that the ingredients themselves have not been tested.

Similarly some companies which were genuinely ‘cruelty free’ have reverted to testing on animals in order to satisfy legislation in emerging markets such as China.

In reality, testing cosmetics on animals rarely occurs in Australia. While it is not explicitly banned in all states, it would not accord with the justification requirements of the Code of Practice for the care and use of animals in scientific procedures, and thus would be illegal.

The problem is that the vast majority of products lining our supermarket shelves are from overseas countries which do test on animals. Many Australians are therefore supporting this unnecessary cruelty inadvertently.

In order to address this on a global level, several organisations both in Australia and overseas are banding together to not only raise awareness of this travesty, but to lobby governments seeking change.

In 2013 Europe will introduce a ban on selling newly animal-tested cosmetics, for the first time ethically excluding products that don’t comply. For some beauty companies, commercial ambitions in Europe - the world’s largest cosmetics market - may be a compelling driver to revolutionise their approach.

The current review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme provides an ideal opportunity for Australia to address this very important issue.

Under section 81 (1) of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) (“the Act”), the Minister for Health and Ageing has the power to determine standards for cosmetics imported into, or manufactured in Australia. Our Federal Government must introduce a standard under section 81 of the Act stating that no cosmetic shall be imported into, or manufactured in Australia if the final product or its ingredients has been tested on animals.

Such an inclusion in the Act will ensure that Australia is taking a leading role in the international efforts to ensure more humane and scientifically-valid testing methodologies for cosmetic testing.

Until such a ban is imposed, Australian consumers need to be mindful that their well-meaning gifts of cosmetics and perfumes this Christmas may well be financially supporting cruel and unnecessary animal experiments.

Purchasing from companies accredited by, and appearing on the Choose Cruelty Free List will ensure that your Christmas purchases are genuinely free from animal testing.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

Most commented


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    • Wendy Higgins says:

      07:10am | 06/12/12

      I couldn’t agree more with this article, there is just no moral or scientific justification for testing cosmetics on animals. The EU has taken the lead with its complete ban on cosmetics animal testing and its ban on selling animal tested cosmetics due next year. But now we need other countries around the world to do the same to end cosmetics cruelty once and for all. In passing the testing ban, EU policy makers acknowledged that such testing cannot be ethically justified - it cannot be right to cause sentient creatures pain, suffering and death to produce a new lip stick or shampoo. With thousands of existing ingredients to choose from and advanced non-animal tests that offer faster and more human-relevant results, there is no scientific justification either. Thousands of successful beauty brands around the world produce exciting, innovative cosmetic products the cruelty-free way. Australia has a key opportunity now to put compassion and cutting-edge science right at the heart of cosmetics testing, consigning cruel animal testing to the history books where it belongs.

    • acotrel says:

      08:45am | 06/12/12

      Stop wearing make-up. Testing of chemicals on animals is preferable to the consequences humans of using them in ignorance . Chemicals are used for other things besides cosmetics .

    • gerry W says:

      08:12am | 06/12/12

      Females are testing lipsticks almost everyday etc which contain lead ‘oh just a little bit’ but it is allowed. Think about it ladies?

    • Kika says:

      09:15am | 06/12/12

      Lipstick hasn’t had lead for 100 years.

    • Gerry W says:

      09:56am | 06/12/12

      Thanks subotic….we still have unbelievers out there…

    • subotic wins some.... says:

      11:01am | 06/12/12

      I wouldn’t call Kika an unbeliever per se.

      And the things I would like to call Kika the Mods won’t let thru the gate.

      Aaaah well.

    • Philosopher says:

      12:40pm | 06/12/12

      subotic, Kika is married and with child; please don’t flirt with her.

    • subotic shuts the Logan Central zoo door says:

      02:22pm | 06/12/12

      LOL @Philosopher.

      You ain’t been here long enuff dude.

      Me & Kika have a fantastic Hate/ Hate relationship.

      And the things I’d like to call her, let’s just say that “endearing” doesn’t describe them…

    • ronny jonny says:

      08:13am | 06/12/12

      But smoking monkeys wearing lipstick are hilarious.

    • Loddlaen says:

      08:38am | 06/12/12

      Especially on roller skates!

    • ronny jonny says:

      10:33am | 06/12/12

      Or water skiing

    • Rowdy says:

      08:34am | 06/12/12

      I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.

    • Gregg says:

      08:43am | 06/12/12

      The principle of ensuring other countries comply with EU/western country manufacturing standards in all areas including child labour etc. could be an employment godsend if the importing countries governments played the game right.
      There could be import requirements that countries to which exports were to go would have inspectors funded by the manufacturing countries to be regularly vetting that the WTO playing field was indeed level.

      It is not as though something similar does not already occur internationally for in the case of insurance there are companies operating globally who do have their staff including assessors located in various countries.

    • Cel says:

      08:49am | 06/12/12

      Thanks for highlighting this important animal expolitation issue. It is disgusting that in a world that has already developed alternate means of testing cosmetics that we would continue to subject animals to this type of cruel exploitation.

      Here’s the link to the Cruelty Free List as referenced in Helen’s article:

    • subotic says:

      09:15am | 06/12/12

      Homer Simpson: You can’t win us back with mere donuts.

      Montgomery Burns: Oh, but these donuts were made the old fashioned way. The dough sweetened with Cuban sugar from pre-Batista plantations, and fried in the tallow of three different animals, two of which are now extinct.

    • Philosopher says:

      09:48am | 06/12/12

      you do have a sort of genius, I must reluctantly conclude.

    • Stormy Weather says:

      09:24am | 06/12/12

      “Beauty” production is a multi-billion dollar industry which preys on the insecurity of women by promoting eternal youth and attractiveness.  It’s all bullshit!
      That said, I still wear my cosmetics and like my red lipstick, non tested.
      The money women spend on cosmetics, perfumes, hair removal, hair dyes, face creams etc could pay for our retirement.
      I found some good creams at one of those organic health food shops and they are free from animal testing, animal products and carcinogenic petrochemicals.

      As consumers we need to inform the industry we demand cruelty free and chemical free products. Can’t think of anything more vulgar than animals being tortured just to make some vanity product seem safe.

    • acotrel says:

      09:55am | 06/12/12

      ‘Tortured’ is a bit emotive ?

    • stormy Weather says:

      01:22pm | 06/12/12

      I think torture is an appropriate word to describe vivisection.
      To purposely inflict pain for a result eg putting substances/chemicals into fluffy wuffy bunny rabbits eyes for prolonged amounts of time to see if it burns them.
      I’m quite sure they don’t like it.

      It reminds me, I have to read H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau one of these days.

    • shirley says:

      10:15am | 06/12/12

      Don’t want to give a cruel gift this Xmas? Then don’t eat lamb, beef, turkey or chicken - eat only ham. Why? Because ham is killed humanely, and all the others are mostly killed using Halal slaughter which involves cruelly cutting the throat of an animal and watching it suffering until it bleeds to death. The Dutch Parliament tried to ban Halal slaughter very recently, confirming how cruel it is. They were overruled in their Upper House because of the political power of the rapidly rising Muslim community and fear of terrorism and violence.
      Multiculturalism says all cultures are equal. This ‘all cultures are equal’ doctrine is known as ‘cultural relativism’. If all cultures are equal than all cultural practices must be equal, and a cruel cultural practice is equal to a humane one, and must be allowed.  If all cultures are equal, and law is central to culture, as it is, then all laws must be equal too. Sharia laws on cruel Halal slaughter must be legalised. 
      Have a merry Xmas eating your Halal chicken, beef, lamb etc. But remember that if we continue to implement sharia laws such as Halal slaughter, then one day we must stop celebrating Xmas as a public holiday altogether, unless we also allow public holidays for all cultures. Having a public holiday for Xmas but not Eid, Diwali etc would be impermissible racial and religious discrimination. Second, since many Muslims find the cross offensive (a symbol of the Crusade) than it cannot be displayed. Goodbye Australian Xmas and culture.
      Now we will see whether the writer or the bloggers here are truly compassionate, against cruelty and willing to speak out, or if they are cultural relativists, that is, if the censors even allow this to be published! The Punch will probably enforce sharia blasphemy law in case some Muslims find this offensive. Of course genuine moderate Muslims and others would agree and support banning Halal slaughter or at least introducing Halal labelling laws.

    • Michael says:

      10:38am | 06/12/12

      I think you’ve lost the plot. Admittedly though I agree with the article against all my good sense, given I was annoyed by HRA in my work capacity earlier in the year.

    • Dude says:

      12:27pm | 06/12/12

      But pigs are smart so you can’t eat them either.

    • HC says:

      12:50pm | 06/12/12

      So much crazy here.

      None of my meat is halal, but it is kosher.  Are you going to ban my practice too?  And only a tiny percentage of Australian meat is halal anyway and all of it is labelled as such, you’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery than eating halal by mistake (unless of course you’re illiterate or have an addiction to kebabs)  tongue laugh

    • shirley says:

      12:56pm | 06/12/12

      Michael - Labelling and pathologising is not argument. Refute with contrary argument or withdraw. The book by Professor Salim Mansur a proud unhyphenated Canadian of Indian background ‘A delectable lie: A Liberal repudiation of multiculturalism, 2011,  demonstrates clearly how multiculturalism is based on cultural relativism and results in legal pluralism and sharia law. This law authorises cruel and dangerous practices such as Halal slaughter. Such practices, opposed by moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike, will put us all in danger and result in much animal cruelty. Black negro, and former Head of the Human Rights Commission in the U.K., Trevor Phillips, has spoken out against multiculturalism because it is based on cultural relativism and encourages such practices. He was called racist for doing so. ‘Pluralists for a referendum’ here in Australia, in their submission to the Federal Multiculturalism Enquiry (471 and 471(1) (Google it) show how dangerous and cruel cultural relativism can be and discuss Halal slaughter in detail.

      The sad truth is that most so called animal rights activists would sooner let cruelty to animals happen by way of Halal slaughter and say nothing than risk being labelled racist. It is that simple. They simply sneer at, or call names, those who dare to tell the truth.  Very sad for those poor, poor animals.

    • Helen Marston says:

      01:19pm | 06/12/12

      For the record, I will point out here that the author (myself) is actually vegan and strives to avoid all types of animal exploitation - including meat consumption. The theme of this article however is the testing of cosmetic products on animals - one of the most unjustifiable abuses of animals - merely for vanity.

    • Get Real says:

      02:54pm | 06/12/12

      I think that religious slaughter (both kosher and halal) without stunning is cruel and needs to be banned. There is nothing racist about disagreeing with certain religious practices that cause unnecessary pain and suffering to both people and animals.

      I also completely agree with this article.


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