Animal TestingThe cosmetic industry uses thirteen types of tests which may potentially use animals. These are:
- eye irritancy
- skin irritancy
- skin penetration
- skin sensitisation
- phototoxicity and photosensitisation - skin reactions to chemicals brought on by exposure to the light
- mutagenicity - the chemical capacity to cause permanent alteration of the genetic material within living cells
- acute and chronic toxicity
- reproductive toxicity
- teratogenicity - the capability of producing foetal malformation
- finished product safety evaluation
Alternative MethodsThe UK banned animal testing for cosmetics in 1998 and in November 2002 the European Union voted on a ban animal testing for cosmetics which will come into practice around 2009. Countries such as the USA and Japan are still a long way from ending animal testing for cosmetics.
Cruelty-Free CosmeticsIt is not always easy to distinguish which brands are cruelty-free and which are not because many companies do not clearly label their products, and some companies make ambiguous statements when referring to theirs. For example, a bottle of shampoo claiming "this product has not been tested on animals," may not be telling the full story. While the finished product may not have been tested on animals, some of the ingredient may have been.
Fair TradeAnother justifiable concern that you may have about your green personal care products is where they have been produced and that the producers and suppliers, particularly if they are in developing countries, have not been exploited. The Fairtrade Foundation has developed certification to ensure that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are protected.
Producers that supply Fairtrade products are inspected and certified by the international certification body Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). They receive a minimum price that covers the cost of sustainable production and also an extra premium that is invested in social or economic development projects. Fairtrade Labelling was created in the Netherlands in the late 1980s. Today the FLO co-ordinates Fairtrade Labelling in 20 counties including the UK.
You will recognise certified products because they carry the FAIRTRADE mark. This is their consumer label which guarantees that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are getting a better deal.