Testing of cosmetics on animals has been a highly charged, ethical issue that has risen in prominence during the past couple of decades. While a common practice tracing back all the way to the early 20th century, the testing of products commonly used like shampoos, conditioners, makeup, and even face masks have been tested or contain ingredients tested on animals. With a recent rise in backlash, certain companies have made a point to take a stand against the testing of products on animals due to the physical and mental harm that has been documented during these animal testing practices.
The aim of cosmetic testing is often used to test the efficacy of hypoallergenic properties or safety for use by humans, and the laws regarding cosmetic testing vary widely from country to country. For example, in China, animal testing is mandatory, even for products that are imported into the country. However, in the European Union, a ban went into effect in 2013 against animal testing for cosmetics and marketing of cosmetics tested on animals. In other countries additionally, there are various approaches to this issue that vary widely.
Due to the high controversy surrounding the issue, many companies' marketing policies and their product sales have been affected by whether they participate in animal testing or not. Companies like Lush, ELF, and The Body Shop all market their products as cruelty-free: even going so far as to make the company's anti-animal testing trend a point in their marketing strategy. Due to the popularity of the anti-animal testing stance, drawing on ethical and humane inclinations, the brands, in general, have gained notoriety and achieved a more "feel-good" aura surrounding their brand.
However, the danger of advertising, especially in the United States, is that oftentimes the laws are extremely vague and unregulated. The words "cruelty-free" and "not tested on animals" is not regulated by the FDA, causing many people to assume that the product they are buying is cruelty-free when really, only a single ingredient is cruelty-free, or the company itself has "cruelty-free" practices. Many of times, while technically following advertising and FDA guidelines, companies could be misleading with their marketing strategies. Whether you support animal testing or not, this misinterpretation of many advertisements that specific products are marketed in is dangerous.
With advertising slowly becoming its own entity within the global commerce sector, it is more and more vital to pay attention to what you are buying and the money that you put your products to. Advertising affects us in many subliminal ways, and being more cognizant of how the ads you see affect the way you think and additionally take every claim with a grain of salt. It is our responsibility to do our own research, and looking into issues that you believe in and consider important and shopping along those guidelines can help you live a life that supports your values.
For animal testing, a good rule of thumb is due to Chinese trade policies, if a product is sold in China, then animal testing was conducted in some part of the manufacturing process. It is up to us not to blindly take claims of advertisements, but to vote with our dollar and give our business to the companies that we believe in.