More Than a Makeup Trend
A Report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Makeup trends change from season to season, but a much quieter, steadier cosmetics trend is also taking place. As consumers have become more concerned about animal welfare issues, demand for cruelty-free cosmetics and personal care products has skyrocketed.
Cruelty-free cosmetics and personal care products have become solidly mainstream, and consumers and lawmakers are increasingly skeptical of companies that continue to test on animals. In fact, the European Union has banned animal testing of these products. The United States has not taken such a progressive stance. Tens of thousands—and possibly even 100,000 or more—rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats are still subjected to painful tests each year to bring eye shadow and shaving cream to American store shelves.
To gain insight into the public’s current knowledge of and opinions on animal testing for cosmetics—and to find out how many Americans are inclined to purchase cruelty-free cosmetics—the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) conducted a public opinion survey.
PCRM commissioned ORC International of Princeton, N.J., to conduct random telephone surveys of the United States’ general adult public in September 2011, asking individuals about their views on the use of animals in cosmetics testing. The questions are listed in Appendix 1. Interviews were weighted by age, sex, geographic region, race, and education to ensure an accurate representation of the total adult (greater than 18 years of age) population. The company polled 1,009 individuals.
In PCRM’s survey, 72 percent of respondents agreed that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical (Fig. 1). An even higher percentage—78 percent—of respondents agreed that the development of alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics testing is important (Fig. 2). Sixty-one percent of respondents said that cosmetics and personal care product companies should not be allowed to test products on animals (Fig. 3).
The survey also assessed consumers’ knowledge of cosmetics testing. When participants were asked if they were aware that millions of rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice are killed every year to test cosmetics, 62 percent responded that they were aware of this testing.
When asked whether their opinions would motivate them at the store, 58 percent said they would purchase cruelty-free personal care products (Fig. 4). In addition, 81 percent of respondents said they expect manufacturers of natural or “green” products to avoid animal testing (Fig. 5).
These new data, when compared with the results of older opinion polls, demonstrate a significant shift in opinion about animal testing of cosmetics and personal care products over the last decade. The majority of Americans believe that cosmetics and personal care products on animals is unethical, and a large and increasing percentage believe such testing should not be allowed. This change also seems to be reflected in their shopping habits, as a significant number of respondents stated that they are likely to purchase products that were not tested on animals.
Sixty-one percent of respondents were so opposed to animal testing of cosmetics and personal care products that they said companies should not be allowed to test their products on animals. These numbers are up significantly from a 2003 Gallup Poll that found 38 percent of Americans would support a complete ban on product testing on animals.
The survey also suggests a significant increase in the number of Americans who would purchase cruelty-free products. In 2008, a survey by the Humane Research Council found that 40 percent of Americans had purchased products labeled as “not tested on animals” because of their concern for animals. PCRM’s survey found that 58 percent of Americans would purchase cruelty-free products. Although the 2008 survey asked whether the respondent had actually purchased the products and PCRM’s asked how likely they would be to purchase cruelty-free products, the results suggest that consumers are increasingly inclined to purchase products not tested on animals.
In addition, the majority of respondents agreed that developing alternatives to animal testing is important. These results send a strong message to cosmetics companies and Congress: Consumers want to be able to purchase cruelty-free cosmetics products and believe that moving toward nonanimal test methods is an important priority.
Information from numerous animal protection organizations indicates that millions of rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice are killed every year to test cosmetics. The most common testing involves applying cosmetics to animals' eyes and shaved skin to look for harmful effects. Testing can last days to weeks, at which time the animals are killed.
1. Prior to this interview, were you aware of this fact?
2. For the next few statements please tell me if you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with each.
A. Testing cosmetics or personal care products on animals is inhumane or unethical
B. The development of alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics and personal care products is important
C. I expect manufacturers of natural or environmentally friendly products to avoid animal testing
3. How likely would you be to purchase a cosmetic or personal care product if it were NOT tested on animals?
Very likely/Somewhat likely/It would make no difference/Somewhat less likely/Not likely at all/Don’t know
4. Do you think cosmetic and personal care product companies should be allowed to test their products on animals?