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The Physicians Committee

Cosmetics Companies Need to Come Clean About Animal Testing
June 21, 2012

Come CleanThere’s an ugly truth behind many cosmetics: animal testing. Thousands of rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats suffer in toxicology tests—like skin irritation tests—for personal care products and their ingredients each year. PCRM’s new Come Clean campaign asks companies to let us know if they perform these tests, so we can help them transition to superior, cruelty-free alternatives.

Here’s the dirt on what some cosmetics companies are covering up about animal testing: A chemical is applied to the shaved, bare skin of a restrained rabbit or other animal and left for four hours to test for rash, inflammation, lesions, or other signs of skin damage. The skin is observed for up to 14 days for irritation, which is reversible damage, or corrosion, which is irreversible skin damage.

But these painful tests are not the most effective way to test cosmetics. Species react differently to substances. So animal tests do not accurately predict how a chemical will affect human skin. Nonanimal testing methods are essential for public health, because they more accurately predict the way we humans will respond to an ingredient or product.

What are we doing about it? PCRM’s Come Clean campaign is requesting cosmetics and personal care companies to certify they do not use or commission these animal tests for any of their products or the ingredients in them.

PCRM experts will work with companies that use animal tests and advise them on how to integrate nonanimal methods into their program in order to provide safer products for humans and to spare animals from suffering.

Animal testing is not required by law for any cosmetics. The European Union has banned animal testing of these products. And most Americans don’t want animal testing.

An independent survey PCRM commissioned last year found that 61 percent of Americans believe that companies should not be allowed to test makeup, shaving cream, and other cosmetics and personal care products on animals. Seventy-two percent said that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical.

Cosmetics companies are trendsetters. It’s time they picked up on this trend. We’re here to help them make over their old-fashioned animal tests with cutting-edge, cruelty-free tests.

To learn more about our Come Clean campaign, visit


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