Look around the room in which you are seated. More than likely, there is a woman, and maybe even a man, maybe not with a full face of makeup on, but definitely some fake lashes or mascara. And if that doesn’t apply, you could assume most in the room have on lotion, deodorant, or even perfume. While for the past generations, these things were normal, reaching back in time, you will find a different history of the cosmetic industry, specifically, the world of makeup (“A History of Cosmetics from Ancient Times”, 2016). Along with the changing world of cosmetics came the need for not only mass production but before market testing. Unfortunately as many species have similarities with human anatomy, animals have been used for years as test subjects and to this very day, for the most part, they are still being treated inhumanely in the name of science..
The year is 10,000 B.C. and back in Egypt, the usage of essential oils reached down the social ladder. Males and females used oils to soften their skin and to reduce the body odor that still plagues us all. Perhaps the most common use of essential oils occurred in their places of worship. They were used to clear the air and to offer sacrifices to their gods. The Egyptians were so into what they knew about personal hygiene that one of their hundreds of gods was name Nefertem, the god of personal grooming. While the oils were most commonly selected for the deity of their society, because of high costs it wasn’t limited to them only. Perhaps the most used entity of all was an incense named Kyphi which included mimosa, cinnamon, and mint most commonly (Letten, 1995).
Fast forward to the years surrounding 3,000 B.C., the Chinese use Arabic gum, gelatin, beeswax, and even eggs to stain their nails. One specific example of this comes from the Chou dynasty around 600 B.C. Until about the late fifteenth century, the royalty wore gold and silver on their fingernails until it was changed to black and red. Those who were lower-class wouldn’t even dare to use any strong colors under any circumstance. They stuck to the lighter, pale colors, females and males both (“Nail Polish Was Used In 3,000 B.C. – Color Of Fingernails Indicated Social Status In Ancient China And Egypt”. 2018). Around this time, the women in Greece applied crushed mulberries as rouge (blush) (“A History of Cosmetics from Ancient Times”, 2016).
Here the pages of history seem to have a gap and then we are reintroduced to the idea of cosmetics around 300 to 400 A.D. on the form of Henna, coming from the country of India. When one thinks of Henna, their first reaction might be amazement at the intricate designs placed most commonly on hands, face, and feet. However, from the earliest centuries, Henna was known as a small tree whose leaves contain a dye specific to it that stains one’s skin. Unlike a regular tattoo, Henna only penetrates a few layers of skin which means that after much exfoliating, occurring over time, the dye wears away until it’s gone (Learn About Henna).
The eleventh century kicked off the known and unknown terrors of the Crusades. Fought in order to gain control of the Holy Land, nation’s armies congregated in the same general area for months at a time. Throughout the brutality and the ceaseless bloodshed, a mixture of sweet-smelling fragrances traveled from place to place in the bags and in the pockets of soldiers. Specifically, an Arabian physician is said to be the father of perfume as he was the first man to make a distillery for rose petals, thus finding a way to bottle and hold its scent over long periods of time. This was the push needed to get scents the respect many felt they deserved. The Italians then became the forefront of the perfume industry, using the distillery techniques to liquify different scent making items and bottling them up for sale (Perfume Crusaders).
The year 1500 brought a full-on wave of so-called high fashion to the palaces and even streets of England. Passed down from the hierarchy of the nation came the trend of whitening one’s complexion. The main ideas behind it stemmed from the fact that the lighter the skin, the more pure one was…because they believed, angels had to have been pale. Secondly, those who had lighter skin gave the impression that the worked the least or not at all in the hot sun, deeming them better than the average person. While some had it lucky, in the case that they were already pale, most had to go to some extremes to get their skin to have the desired look. Common whitening products included flour, rice powder and in some extreme cases, even plain old lead. To add a bit of color, women would use beet extract or sometimes even things derived from bugs to add a red tint to their cheeks and lips, especially for special occasions (Montgomery, 2008).
The early 1900s brought a shift from the Victorian era to the slightly underestimated time period known as Edwardian Society. With the changing times came changing fashion trends. This period brought a trend that still hasn’t stopped and that is the need and want for women reaching an older age to try their hardest to not let that age show. As always happens, people began to supply the growing frenzy of youthfulness. Shops and salons popped all over town and they brought claims of anti-aging creams, dark spot removers, and young looking skin. The difference between many people today and then is that women were more ashamed of their need to look young. Every shop and salon had a literal back door that allowed for the ladies privacy and confidentiality. Thankfully, another trend also was made popular in Edwardian society. Before this era, hair was washed only once in a while, and I mean every few months. This time period came with a rush for women and men to take better care of their hair. Again, on the topic of supply and demand, companies began to produce the first shampoos to supply the rising demand for regularly cleaned hair (“Beauty History”, 2017).
From the 1920s on, the makeup and cosmetic industry began to grow rapidly. In stark contrast to the Victorian and Edwardian era, pale skin was definitely not in. Instead, everyone wanted a nice looking tan. Bigger makeup companies such as Revlon mass-produced bronzing powders as well as lipsticks to keep up with the fast-growing trends (revloninc.com). In addition, doing away with the “natural” look that women worked so hard to achieve, they now turned to much bolder face statements. The “painted women” of the 1920s wore “dramatic mascara, eyeliner, dusty eyeshadow, and lipstick” (Makeup).
With all the experimentation that went along with the growing popularity of cosmetics, specifically makeup from the beginning of time, women at home and large cosmetic corporations used animals to test their products. While many instances are not fully recorded, the earliest known drug test for cosmetics is known as the Draize test, made popular in 1944. John H. Daize was the man responsible for putting animals officially on the cosmetic scene. The Draize eye irritation test was one employed to see active changes in the subjects cornea, iris, and the conjunction. The best subjects for this test are the New Zealand White Rabbit because of their large eyes and their inexpensiveness. Along with the rise in the Draize test, came the skin irritation test which was done specifically on albino rabbits because when a reaction occurred, it would be seen easiest on completely white skin (Lee, Miri. 2017). During both of these tests, severe pain was inflicted on all test subjects which was cause for serious concern from many parties.
At this time a man of great importance came on the scene by the name of Henry Spirals, basically known as the first animal rights activist. All of his campaigns and in turn, his motto for life called for, “Diagnosis, prognosis, and a call to action,” and that’s exactly what he did. Spirals zoned in on the above-mentioned company of Revlon incorporated and made it his mission to end drug testing on animals there permanently. He banded together with other like-minded people until the goal was accomplished and in 1991, he got that company to finally quit animal testing altogether. In his own words after his victory was complete, Spiral said these words which drive any form of activism. “The victories we have achieved show that citizen activism can succeed even against prestigious scientific institutions, multinational corporations, and inert bureaucracies”. (Munro, Lyle. 2002).
“The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) was established in 1991 pursuant to a requirement in Directive 86/609/EEC that the European Commission (EC) and its member states actively support the development, validation, and acceptance of methods to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals in laboratories” (Den, Zen. 2017). In other words, the Europeans became the forefront of the movement against animal testing. This entire entity was and is devoted to finding a better way, a more humane way to get the same things done. Their goal was also to raise awareness of the fact that there actually is an issue with the way things were currently being done.
November 19, 1996, marked a crucial date for the advocacy for animals in the cosmetic industry. On this day the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) was instituted in the United States and Canada. Before this date and even up until things really began to change, any and every company was labeling their products as cruelty-free. The problem was that they weren’t being held to a standard. One might jest that their item was cruelty-free because they didn’t cage their animals in tight spaces. At the same time, however, the animals were not receiving proper nutrition and were coming in contact with physical harm. The CCIC was enabled to make themselves the standard, with several rules and regulations that companies had to get signed off on in order to actually be cruelty-free. The process was grueling because not only did the actual companies have to get themselves cleared, the places that they received their ingredients to make their products had to be certified. This was the only way that products could then use the label: cruelty-free while being inside the law. Not only did they sell the institution as a way to protect the animals but also the consumer. Products tested on animals might not even be safe because while their anatomy is likened to a human, they are in fact not exactly the same. For example “according to former National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Richard Klausner, “We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans(PETA, 2018). This is where the alternative methods came into play because they found better and more accurate ways to test. As a victory for those against the practice, In 1998 the entire United Kingdom banned animal testing for any reason, at any time, for any products. While parts of the United States would follow through the issue of money always comes into play. Recent studies show that in recent years, tax payers in America aid the government in animal testing at a whopping sum of 16 billion dollars. For example, the specific Sister Chromatid Exchange test done on animals costs 22 thousand dollars annually. In contrast, it’s in vitro counterfeit costs only eight thousand a year (Charles River Laboratories, 2006). The thing that still puts animal testing ahead of alternative method is the time it takes for each. While one study might take months to grow and show results in a lab, animals can produce the same accuracy in weeks and time is money. The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) was officially signed into Congress on December 19, 2000. This was seen as protection for the agencies that first produced the alternative methods in the first place. California, always known as an animal loving state, as well as a liberal one, was the first to sign on to the act in 2002. The other side of the country followed suit with the state of New Jersey signing in 2007 and New York in 2014 and lastly Virginia in 2018( Timeline: Cosmetic Testing on Animals”, 2019).
Unfortunately, with all the advances that have been made in the world of animal testing, there are immense changes that still need to occur. As of 2017 data, “Each year, more than 100 million animals—including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in U.S. laboratories for biology lessons, medical training, curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing” (PETA, 2018). That being said, even before they are slaughtered, the animals go through extreme circumstances. Animals lungs are burned by toxic fumes and their skin is literally, in some instances, burnt right off their bodies. Other animals are subject to bone breakage, including the spine and skull (PETA, 2018). Not only are the animal’s circumstances inhumane, but in many cases, they are also long-lasting. In specific, a lot of mice are used in the testing of cures for cancer and other chronic illnesses. To test the effects, they are kept for long periods of time in often extreme suffering. Still, others are set for repeat testing which is basically increasing doses every 28-90 days. In other words, animals are literally put through cycles of pain (Daly, Mary. 2018).
A recent survey tells us that 68 percent of Americans are opposed to any animals being used to test their everyday products. However, this is not enough for a widespread change. The rules and regulations up to the highest courts of this country have to be altered in order to completely make animal testing illegal on a national scale. There can’t just be protests for a change in the system to occur, but once again as Henry Spiral believed, their must be “A call to action.” Further legislation must be put into play as many of the previous laws have obvious loopholes. The hope for the six in ten Americans is to completely do away with animal testing, once again, not just for the animals, but for the people.
The rise in ancient to specifically American cosmetics and makeup has come with a harsh side-effect. People wanted/want a guarantee that the products they intend to use will actually work. While many turn to alternative methods, unfortunately still more stick to animals as a way to “insure” their bodily health and appearance. While many claim that this route is ineffective, enough benefits have been seen by large corporations to make it hard for the rules to be changed. As of today, only four states have actually put an end to animal testing. While the majority of Americans see that as a minor victory, still some don’t like the little restriction that already has come. While the change has been slow coming, American advocacy against animal testing is at a record high, as people and institutions work tirelessly to add awareness to the situation as well as stop it.
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