by Santosh Krinsky
More people are becoming aware of and concerned about the testing of personal-care products, including lotions, massage oils and aromatherapy products, on animals. In particular, the younger generation is socially conscious and more apt to support products—and the practices that utilize them—that are “cruelty-free.”
Using and advertising cruelty-free products also makes a value statement to your clientele, as it shows your awareness and interest in living a “green” lifestyle and supporting issues that represent eco-conscious living.
Over the past 50 years, many companies have agreed to not test their products or component materials on animals—and because of this, many natural personal-care brands have emerged. However, a number of major mainstream brands continue to use cruel animal testing for product development; thus, this is an ongoing issue of which more people need to be aware.
Most people are not familiar with the process of animal testing of cosmetics; some assume you just shampoo your dog with a new product, or apply some lotion on your pet’s skin. But this is not the case. In fact, animal testing is usually done on individual components which find their way into finished products in small percentages and are “buffered” in the finished products.
During the testing phase, these components, in some instances caustic acids or bases, are taken at 100 percent strength (which does not occur in a finished cosmetic product) and dropped into a rabbit’s eyes in order to check irritancy potential. This can cause rabbit blindness and tremendous pain. In other cases, companies force feed into an animal, such as a dog, large amounts of these toxic components to see what amount will cause 50 percent of them to die.
These are the two major tests: the first is called the “draize” test and the second is called the “LD50” test. Neither of them really tells us anything about the finished products, nor are they essential given alternative methods, such as computer simulations that can be done today. In fact, the European Union (EU) has passed laws banning such tests for cosmetic and personal care products.
Thousands of ingredients have a history of safe use by humans around the world, and hundreds more have been historically tested on animals in the past. Nothing can be done about the past, and those interested in protecting animals generally accept a cutoff date that shows their suppliers have not tested any ingredient used in their products in this manner since 1996. This gives the modern formulator of personal-care products thousands of potential ingredients to meet all different requirements and needs, without new animal testing taking place.
Although there are cruelty-free brands available, there are more mainstream companies that still test their products this way. Some of these mainstream companies have no incentive to change their actions until demanded so by consumers who choose products that clearly advertise themselves as cruelty-free and are labeled and certified as such. For more information on certification, visit The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (leapingbunny.org); the British Union Against Vivisection (www.buav.org); NaTrue (www.natrue.org).
Massage therapists can make a statement by ensuring they inform their clients that they use only cruelty-free certified lotions and massage oils in their practice, and any products they sell are also cruelty-free. This helps bring about the awareness needed to ensure this change takes place broadly, as well as telling clients they care about animals.
Santosh Krinsky has been in the natural products industry since 1974, selling cruelty-free products. He is the CEO of Lotus Brands Inc., a manufacturer of such cruelty-free brands as Beauty Without Cruelty Cosmetics & Personal Care, Eco-Dent Oral Care, Nature’s Alchemy Essential Oils, Light Mountain Natural Hair Color and others. For more information, visit www.beautywithoutcruelty.com and www.lotusbrands.com.