5 Reasons Your Skincare Shouldn’t Test on Animals

Beauty is more than just skin deep, right? We’ve got to feel good on the inside to let that glow-of-glows shine through to the epidermis. Or so the theory goes, anyway. And if your skincare faves are hiding a dark secret—like testing on animals—that revelation could make your skin (and all of your insides) crawl with horror. That kind of stress and guilt isn’t exactly a beauty secret. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Don’t let the weight of animal testing drag your skin and spirit down.

Think you can’t ditch your favorite skincare product for the animals? Think again! There’s every reason to swap out those unkind options for the Kinder Beauty essentials.

1. Animal testing is not effective.

Once considered the only way to prove safety and efficacy for a number of categories including medications, personal care, and household items, science is now proving otherwise. A growing body of research suggests differences between commonly tested-on animals (rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, cats) and humans lead to different results in product testing. In short: what makes your eyes sting may not have that same effect on a rat, and vice versa. This is extremely important in the medical field where commonly held beliefs about disease and treatment based on animal studies may be inaccurate. But when it comes to your skincare, there’s no reason another being should suffer so you can glow. What lab-testing tells you about a novel new product or ingredient may only be true for the rabbit it was tested on. That’s hardly something to soak your skin in, right? 

2. Animal testing is cruel.

Ever stepped on your cat or dog’s tail and still feeling guilty over it years later? Animals feel pain. This is a fact. Not only are some testing methods highly ineffective, but most of them are also extremely painful. They can be unthinkably cruel. But you won’t find those details in the fine print on your favorite retinol serum. Add to that a life in a laboratory cage with little love or interactions, and being a test animal is nothing short of a nightmare. If cruelty isn’t in your own personal relationships with animals, then it should have no place in your beauty routine, either, right? Right.

3. Natural ingredients are safer.

If your favorite products are tested on animals, it’s likely because scientists don’t know enough about the ingredients in the first place. This can also be true for combinations of ingredients never used before. Their safety is in question. But swapping out those highly formulated and processed skincare items for natural-based products is safer for your skin, the environment, and those animals, too. This doesn’t mean natural ingredients are free from side effects or contraindications; that is a commonly held myth about all-natural products—but you should always be on the lookout for side effects regardless, and it’s best to discuss new products with your primary care physician or dermatologist. And even though there may be some risks from natural products (like applying essential oils directly to the skin: just don’t do it), they are often less likely to bring the weight of risks associated with processed skincare products. And when your skin is naturally healthy, it’s going to need less of the synthetic junk anyway. So consider this a win-win.

4. Natural ingredients are more effective.

Here’s a little secret: lab-formulated skincare products are often being developed to mimic natural products. Companies do this for a number of reasons; but mainly, it’s all about the proprietary formulations they can charge more for. Compare a fancy and expensive cold cream to olive or coconut oil for makeup removal, and you’ll see that mascara slide off effortlessly with much less of the oil than you’d need from your fancy cream. Mash up an avocado for an indulgent face- or hair-mask that puts even the most expensive contenders to shame. Need a good toner? Give apple cider vinegar or witch hazel a try. They’re going to work wonders, and probably leave your skin looking and feeling better than ever, too.

5. Less is more.

Olive oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, flowers, leaves, fruits. Some of the most effective skincare is the simplest. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in luxury skincare. But here’s another little secret: Some of the most luxurious ingredients aren’t all that expensive. Some are likely in your kitchen right now, too. What does this have to do with animal testing? Complicated blends of various ingredients may warrant animal testing. After all, it’s anyone’s guess what isolated extracts and synthetics may do to your skin by itself, let alone combined with others. There are some limitations with household items (which is why there is a booming personal care industry in the first place). But don’t discount the power of things like coconut or olive oil to moisturize, or apple cider vinegar and lemon to tone, oatmeal to soothe ... the list really does go on and on, and there are plenty of guides and DIY tutorials for how to use natural household items.

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Jill Ettinger is an LA-based writer and editor focused on vegan and cruelty-free living.