March 5, 2014
Cosmetics Tests That Use Animals
Tests that use animals to assess the safety of cosmetics and personal care products—such as lipstick, mascara, shampoo, and cologne—are still extremely common in the United States. It's estimated that thousands of mice, guinea pigs, rats, and rabbits suffer and die in these tests every year in the U.S. alone. Each ingredient in a cosmetic or personal care product that needs to be tested can be run through the tests listed below. Pain relief is rarely provided and the animals used are always killed at the end of each test.
To learn more about cosmetics testing, visit humanesociety.org/becrueltyfree.
||The test substance is applied to the surface of the skin or injected under the skin of a guinea pig, or applied to the ear of a mouse. Her skin may show signs of redness, ulcers, scaling, inflammation, and itchiness.||Tests for allergic reaction on skin.|
|Skin irritation/ corrosion||
||The test substance is applied to the shaved skin of a rabbit. His skin may show signs of redness, rash, lesions, scaling, inflammation, and/or other signs of damage.||Tests for skin irritation (reversible skin damage) and skin corrosion (severe and irreversible skin damage).|
|Eye irritation/ corrosion||
||The test substance is applied to a rabbit’s eye(s). His eye(s) may show signs of redness, bleeding, ulcers, blindness, and/or other signs of damage||Tests for eye irritation (reversible eye damage) and eye corrosion (severe and irreversible eye damage).|
|Acute oral toxicity||
|The test substance is forced down a rat’s throat using a feeding tube. She may experience diarrhea, convulsions, bleeding from the mouth, seizures, paralysis, and/or death.||Determines the amount of a substance that causes half of the exposed animals to die within 14 days of exposure when the substance is swallowed.|
|Acute dermal toxicity||
||The test substance is applied to the shaved skin of the rat, guinea pig, or rabbit and covered with a patch to keep her from licking or otherwise removing the substance.||Determines the amount of a substance that causes half of the exposed animals to die within 14 days of exposure when the substance is applied to the skin for 24 hours.|
|Acute inhalation toxicity||
||A rat is placed into a tube and forced to inhale the test substance. She may experience bleeding of the nose, convulsions, paralysis, seizures, and/or death.||Determines the amount of a substance that causes half of the exposed animals to die within 14 days of exposure when the substance is inhaled.|
|Repeat dose (28 day) and subchronic (90 day) toxicity||
||A rat is force-fed a substance, is forced to breathe in a substance, or has a substance applied to their skin daily for 28 or 90 days. At the end of the exposure period he is killed and his organs are examined.||Tests for changes in the cells or organs caused by repeat exposure.|
|Carcinogenicity or combined carcinogenicity/ chronic toxicity||
||A mouse is exposed to a substance either by being fed the substance through their food or water, being force-fed the substance, having it rubbed on their skin, or being forced to inhale the substance. After two years of daily exposure, she is killed so her tissues can be examined for signs of cancer (or other signs of toxicity).||
Tests for cancer and other long-term effects of exposure.
||A rat is exposed to a substance either by being fed the substance through their food or water, being force-fed the substance, having it rubbed on their skin, or being forced to inhale the substance. He may be exposed once or multiple times depending on the substance. Blood is drawn at daily intervals to determine the peak concentration of substance in the blood. He is then killed at a specific time-point; different animals are killed at different times to obtain a record of how the substance moves through their body over time.||Measures the absorption, distribution, and metabolism of a substance throughout the tissues and organs following exposure.|
|Reproductive/ developmental screen||
||Male and female adult rats are exposed to the test substance, usually by force-feeding, for two to four weeks and then mated. The pregnant mother is then exposed daily throughout pregnancy and for four days after her pups are born. Four days after birth, she and her pups are killed and their tissues examined.||Tests for effects on fertility, ability to reproduce, and birth defects.|
|Reproductive toxicity in two generations||
||Male and female adult rats are exposed, usually by force-feeding, for at least two weeks and then mated. The pregnant mothers are then exposed daily throughout pregnancy and breast-feeding and are then killed. After weaning, the pups are force-fed throughout their lifetimes, sometimes experiencing symptoms of chronic poisoning such as weight loss or convulsions. Pups that survive until puberty are then mated, and force-feeding continues through the second generation's pregnancy and breast feeding. At the time of weaning of the second generation, mothers and pups are all killed and their tissues examined.||Tests for effects on fertility, ability to reproduce, and birth defects.|
||A pregnant female is exposed, usually by force-feeding, starting at the initiation of pregnancy (through implantation) and contiuing throughout the pregnancy. She is then killed on the day before she is expected to give birth (on average, 22 days for rats or 31 days for rabbits). Her pups are extracted and evaluated for signs of developmental abnormalities.||Tests for birth defects.|
||There are several different tests for genetic alterations that use mice or rats. In a common test, a mouse or rat is force-fed the substance on a daily basis for at least 14 days. Samples of his bone marrow and/or blood are taken to look for genetic changes.||Tests for the beginning stages of cancer.|
* Depending on level of concern and tests performed, mutagenicity testing is usually a battery of in vitro (non-animal) and in vivo (animal) tests.
For more information about animals used in testing, training and experiments, go to