Beauty without cruelty: India becomes first South Asian country to ban animal-tested cosmetics

The ban on import of all cosmetics is a huge victory for those fighting for animal rights. Here’s why.

Coming five months after India announced a national ban on animal testing for cosmetics, the ban on import of all cosmetic products which have been tested on animals comes as a breakthrough victory for pro-life groups and other advocating cruelty-free products.

Since the 1920s, it is no secret that millions of cat, mice, rabbits and other animals are maimed, injured and poisoned through cruel tests every year in order to evaluate toxicity of consumer products used by humans. The famous L50 test that was introduced during World War 1 and still continues today is to administer doses to animals until 50% of them die. Groups have been fighting all over the world, through #BeautyWithoutCruelty and other campaigns, to get cosmetics giants to stop using animals to test human products.

Campaigns against animal cruelty in EU.

Campaigns against animal cruelty in EU.

Humane Society International (HSI), one of the largest global campaigning bodies on animal cruelty, had petitioned the Ministry of Health earlier this year with over 70,000 signatures requesting the import ban.

The ban in India comes in the form of Rule 135-B that states, “Prohibition of import of cosmetics tested on animals. – No cosmetic that has been tested on animals after the commencement of Drugs and Cosmetics (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2014 shall be imported into the country”. The imposition will come into effect on 13 November, 2014, a month after it was notified.

Image source:

Image source:

What animals endure during tests

Every ingredient in cosmetic products needs to undergo the following tests, with the animal receiving no pain relief in the process, and the animal being killed after the process, usually by asphyxiation, neck breaking, or decapitation.

Watch the PETA video on how animal research is conducted.

Look up this from the Humane Society website that lists the kind of tests performed on animals and how it hurts them. View the original table here

There are several reasons apart from animal welfare, to not use animals for the testing products. One of the main reason is that different species may react differently to exposure to same chemicals leading to erroneous results.

The Global Cruelty-free movement

Since 2009, Israel and 27 EU nations have already implemented testing and sales bans on animal testing for cosmetic products. China, which earlier had the “mandatory” animal testing requirement on any product to be sold inside the country, has now changed its stance and agreed to move forward on banning the mandatory requirements for local cosmetic products.  However, most other nations still have outdated animal tests running to develop their cosmetic products.

Is there an alternative?

Celebrities lend their voice to cruelty-free products.

Celebrities lend their voice to cruelty-free cosmetic products.

Any procedure which achieves the “three Rs” of animal testing is considered to be an alternative. The three Rs are:

1. Replaces a procedure that uses animals with a procedure that doesn’t use animals
2. Reduces the number of animals used in a procedure
3. Refines a procedure to alleviate or minimize potential animal pain

There are over 50 such processes which eliminate or reduce the use of animals in the testing of chemicals. Here are a few that are  currently in use;

  • Using blood from human volunteers to test for the presence of fever-causing contaminants in intravenous medicines can save hundreds of thousands of rabbits each year from traditional “pyrogen” tests.
  • The 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Test can replace the use of mice and other animals in the testing of medicines and other products for their potential to cause sunlight induced “photo-toxicity
  • When testing to determine chemical concentrations that are deadly to fish and other aquatic life, use of the Fish Threshold Method can reduce the numbers of fish used by at least 70 percent compared with standard test methods.

What you can do as a shopper

Look for the bunny. Leaping Bunny is the only Internationally recognized standard to check if your product is free of animal cruelty. Look up their global database for compassionate shoppers. Here is PETA’s free search in their database of cruelty-free products. 

And the next time you go shopping, don’t forget to ask the cosmetics company what their philosophy with animal testing is.






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