Dear cosmetic companies, stop the abuse


Chloe Roberson, Features Editor

“Looking beautiful kills,” one could argue as they peek into the harmful world of animal testing. In today’s cosmetic society, there remains a constant race to discover how makeup affects the face and how to reverse those ill effects associated with allergic reactions. However, to achieve this, cosmetic companies must understand the cause of the reaction, then its effects, and lastly how to avoid them.

Currently, in United States laboratories alone, researchers torture and kill more than 100 million animals each year for this achievement. Do cosmetic wearers know of this? Would they even care?

For hundreds of years, women and men continually use makeup to transform their appearance, inform onlookers of their mood, display social status, and impress suitors.

“I wear makeup to increase my attractiveness definitely, but it’s also for myself. You wanna look in the mirror and know for yourself you are beautiful,” senior Chelsea Scarborough said.

Make-up’s impact dates back incredibly far, according to an article written by Evan Andrews, a historical journalist. He explains that even Egyptian pharaohs wore their own unmodernized version of make-up.

Both men and women wore makeup because they believed it gave them protection, but long gone the days when Egyptian women would stain their cheeks with lead-free red paint and use organically sourced henna to color their hands and fingernails, even creating perfumes made from oil, myrrh, and cinnamon. Even so, the Egyptians also believed their all-natural makeup contained magical healing powers.

In present day, however, cosmetics maintain the power to cause a wide range of health issues. Egyptians comprised their cosmetics from all-natural ingredients, contrary to today’s unpronounceable and harmful ingredients. For example, substances used in makeup production, such as Butylated hydroxyanisole, Parabens, Polyethylene, and Petroleum distillates classify as human carcinogens, which exposure to can lead to cancer.

Cosmetic companies commonly use these harmful substances to produce mascara, face and lip exfoliators, foundation, blush, and moisturizers. Nevertheless, the average American woman uses 12 personal care products and/or cosmetics a day that contain these harmful chemicals and 168 different chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

“I’ve always known the stuff they put in cosmetics can kill you. Even animals they test die from it. That’s the main reason I use all-organic deodorant,” senior Rahja Francis said.

More often than not, animals experience these carcinogens first hand in laboratories. For instance, in 2000 the EWG released a study showing that 37 nail polishes from 22 companies contained dibutyl phthalate (DBP). DBP, when tested on animals, causes lifelong reproductive impairments in male rats, and damages the testes, prostate glands, epididymis, and other reproductive organs, leading to birth defects. Meanwhile, this chemical increases the flexibility and shine of nail polish, but this pales in comparison to the high level of toxicity of DBP to animals.

In another drug cosmetic companies expose humans to, The National Toxicology Program classified Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The chemical can cause skin depigmentation. When tested on animals, BHA produced liver damage and caused stomach cancers, such as papillomas and carcinomas, and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels.

In fact, according to The Jama Network, an online international medical journal, complaints of adverse health events related to cosmetic and personal care products more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 alone. Despite these reports, studies continue to conclude that wearing makeup incites confidence and leads to a sharp decline in feelings of self-consciousness. For example, in a recent survey of 1,292 women conducted by The Renfrew Center Foundation, a non-profit clinical research and treatment organization, almost half of these women reported negative feelings when they do not wear makeup.

In that same survey, 44 percent of those women also said they suffer from negative emotions when they go natural, 16 percent of women felt unattractive, 14 percent felt self-conscious, and 14 percent felt like without wearing makeup they “were naked/as though something is missing.” Nevertheless, only a small minority of 3 percent actually felt more attractive when they decided to go without makeup.

Utilizing the information above, one can deduce that makeup offers women physical and psychological benefits. Although the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 currently strives to establish acceptable standards for the treatment of animals, about 20-25 million of them each year remain uncovered by this act and as a result, the cost for a woman’s induced confidence raises to lethal levels.

People maintain different feelings for animals; half of them look upon animals as companions, while others view animals as a means for advancing medical techniques or furthering experimental research. However individuals perceive animals, the fact remains that research facilities and cosmetics companies all across the country and all around the world exploit animals for financial gain.

This notion proves the novelty of cruelty-free companies make-up, such as Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. Fenty Beauty launched earlier this month, and receives loud praise for being tailored to a wider range of skin-tones– 40 shades with the assurance that the brand does not test on animals.

“We need to hold these cosmetic companies on a high pedestal and really appreciate what the cruelty-free label really means,” senior and frequent foundation wearer Diana Martinez said.

In the end, although humans often benefit from successful animal research, the pain, the suffering, and the excruciating deaths of animals does not appear to outweigh the possible human advancements one could encounter. Nevertheless, cosmetic companies violate animals’ rights when they abuse them in heinous research studies, and similar to humans, animals should maintain the same basic moral rights to respectful treatment.

“I feel like the next time you visit MAC or Sephora, envision the animals screaming in pain and then tell me the cruelty-free label doesn’t matter,” senior and PETA supporter Kallie Chabla said.