What is cosmetic animal testing and why should it be banned in Canada?

Even with reliable alternatives, hundreds of thousands of animals in Canada suffer from animal testing to confirm the safety of a cosmetic product.


This article was written by guest contributors: Stefanie Pinto and Annebelle Seiler Ingelman

Is it fair that 150,000 animals are tested on each year in Canada only to benefit human safety, only to allow us to indulge in our obsession with appearances? Cosmetic animal testing is any experiment performed on animals including mice, monkeys, sheep, hamsters, pigs, or rabbits to test the safety of a product or ingredient. Tests can include injections, swabbing, and feeding to observe if any negative reactions or side effects occur. For a cosmetic to be cruelty-free, it cannot include animal testing in production and no ingredient in the product cannot be tested on animals.

In Canada, there are laws and regulations that protect animals from abuse or harm, such as the Criminal Code of Canada. As stated in a Cruelty Free International article, Canada is the fourth country to take part in the most animal testing performed after China, Japan, and the USA. Countries such as Australia, India, South Korea, and Israel have banned animal testing, but Canada has not. Bill-S214 was presented to ban all cosmetic animal testing in Canada but failed in 2019.

Animal testing is an inhumane and inaccurate way of measuring the safety of a cosmetic product. According to Peta.org, more than 90% of studies that participate in animal testing fail in human trials. In other words, because of the differences in the body systems of humans and animals, a human may react differently than an animal after using a certain product. Therefore, alternative testing methods are a safer and more precise way to test an ingredient’s safety, without harming and killing animals. Computer models are a cheaper, faster, and safer alternative, leading to outperforming the testing of animals. Computer models predict a chemical’s safety and side effects in a harmless way. Another alternative is by using donated and restored human tissue. Human tissues would be tested similarly to animals, excluding the harmful aspect. The BC SPCA believes that “the benefits of any research using animals should far outweigh the harms.” Animal testing should not be legal in Canada due to the harm it causes to animals, and the lack of benefits to human cosmetics.

Ultimately, animal testing is an unreliable and unethical way of testing a product or ingredient’s safety. There are safer, less expensive, and more accurate alternatives than putting animals at risk, such as computer models and human tissue. To support cruelty-free cosmetics, consumers can purchase cruelty-free products or sign petitions to raise awareness about this issue.

Sign Stefanie’s and Annabelle’s petition here

Feature video courtesy of the International Humane Society.