Animals suffer in quest for human beauty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 August, 1999, 12:00am

Beauty may only be skin deep if the art of looking beautiful has caused suffering to animals and environmental damage along the way. The chemist's shelves show a bewildering array of personal hygiene and body- care products.

Beauty is big business and teenagers, who are naturally concerned about their image, are easy targets for the cosmetics industry.

Did you know that each year millions of animals are experimented on to test cosmetics and toiletries? A further 100,000 animals are estimated to be killed annually in the United States for the same reason.

Because many cosmetics include solvents, colours, fra grances and preservatives that are toxic, most companies test their products for acute toxicity and skin and eye irritation.

These tests may include dripping hairspray into the eyes of rabbits (the notorious draize test) or applying products to the shaved and often abraded skin of a rabbit or guinea pig.

Many companies now make and sell cosmetics without testing the ingredients on animals. One company in Holland, for example, tested its make-up and body lotions on a convent of nuns who sympathised with the company's battle against animal testing requirements.

Even some of the larger cosmetics giants have announced bans on animal testing but the majority of cosmetics are still tested on animals.

Most cosmetics are not really needed. A diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh air and exercise will probably do more for your hair and skin than any amount of cream in a bottle. But if you really have to use cosmetics, only choose those brands which you know have not been tested on animals.

And what about natural cosmetics - surely these must be good for the environment? It seems nowadays that just about every cosmetics bottle and jar boasts some 'natural' ingredient - aloe or avocado - but a quick look at the label shows that this is usually a negligible part of the product.

There are no studies which show that natural cosmetics are any healthier for your skin than synthetic cosmetics and people may be just as allergic to natural substances than synthetic ones.

Beauty is more than skin deep.

The earth is beautiful too and we need to learn to value a beautiful river as much as a beautiful face.

Friends of the Earth is a local non-profit environmental organisation. For information, call 2528-5588