Article by: Perry Romanowski

One of the most pervasive criticisms of the cosmetic industry is that it tests on animals. In fact, when people learn that I made cosmetics for a living a frequent question is, “do you test on animals?”

No, I’ve never tested on animals (except myself). I think this is the case for most cosmetic chemists. However, it is disingenous to say that the products are not tested on animals. Most aren’t, but nearly every raw material used in cosmetic products has been tested on animals. This is why I’m always troubled by “cruelty free” claims. Everyone is “cruelty free.”

Anyway, the bad press, bad public opinion, high cost and scientist’s genuine desire to minimize the number of animals which get tested on has led to the development of alternatives. These are primarily in-vitro skin cultures which can mimick human skin.

Here is one of the latest technologies that has been developed Evocutis. They have launched the first skin model for the testing of anti-microbial and pre-biotic product claims. The skin model actually simulates the epidermal and the dermal layers of skin.

It remains to be seen whether this technology will replace any real animal tests (it takes time to validate) but it certainly seems like progress.

Stay tuned for more developments in this area…


  1. Julie

    If I’m asked that by someone I know or someone I can joke with, when they ask if we test cosmetics on animals, I say, “No! Of course not! We test them on babies!” Like I said, only with people I know will get the joke (not customers!), and who know I have a dark sense of humor.

    But yes, that’s one of the most frequent questions I get, and I’m usually honest. We do not test the finished products on animals. …But the most common cosmetic ingredients were all tested on animals many years ago, so I guess technically almost everything has ingredients that were tested on animals (glycerin, carbomers, Vitamin A…). I recently came across a silver-based preservative that was very upfront about the fact that they DID test it on animals. An interesting difference.

    1. Perry

      It’s pretty rare any company would say they do test on animals.

      I always said, “well we don’t test on animals except humans of course.”

  2. Eliza

    Wonderful indeed, Perry! For my own line I would say: not tested on animals, just like all cosmetics aren’t! Or would that be too bold? 😉

    1. Perry

      A little too bold. There is still some animal testing going on. It’s usually done by big companies who have developed new technologies. Any new raw material would have to have been tested on animals and I believe aerosol products still have to be inhalation tested.

      1. Eliza

        I thought so. Still looking for a compendium of cosmetics ingredients not tested in animals, but I guess that is impossible. If you have an idea, I would appreciate it?
        Especially with REACH that will become pretty tough!

        1. Perry

          Doubt there is such a thing. The choices would be extremely limited too. The only time animal testing isn’t done on an ingredient is when there is another ingredient so similar that it doesn’t have to be done.

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