animal testing

beauty has an ugly side


Crude and painful experiments continue to be carried out on thousands of animals to test new cosmetics and household products or their ingredients globally. This is despite the fact that over 8,000 ingredients are widely available for commercial application without the need for any further testing on animals.

Cats, dogs, rabbits, pigs, rats and birds are among the animals that suffer in experiments, with animals like beagles being particularly favoured because of their gentle, trusting nature.

Tests used vary but animals may undergo experiments such as having chemicals applied to their skin or eyes to see what level of irritation and damage a substance would cause or dosed with substances to see if they cause cancer.

The following are three of the cruel tests that animals endure to produce new cosmetic and household products:

Draize test

In the Draize test a product is placed in the eyes of conscious rabbits who are restrained in small boxes with their heads protruding. The animals are unable to move. A substance is then applied to their eyes, ears, mouth or face. Experimenters then check for signs of swelling, discharge and ulceration.

We all know how sore it can be to get shampoo in your eye, and this test is often extremely painful and products are typically left for long periods of time. To add insult to injury, rabbits cannot produce tears in the same way as humans do so they cannot even dilute the painful substances away by crying.



Carcinogenicity tests are used to detect any cancerous changes as a result of exposure to a substance.

Animals are force fed products or ingredients and then studied for symptoms of this slow chemical poisoning. This may result in cancerous tumours, lethargy, nausea and death. Animals are then killed and cut open to see further the effect on their organs.


LD test

The Lethal Dose (LD test) refers to the amount of a substance it takes to kill 50 per cent of the animals used. It is administered directly into the stomachs of animals via a tube.

Within a control group of animals, various groups of animals are given increasing doses of the substance to identify the lethal dosage. LD tests can cause abdominal pain, cramps, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhoea, paralysis and breathing difficulties before death occurs.


The cost of beauty

Companies test on animals so that they can offer a reassurance to consumers that their products are safe for human use. However animals don’t need to be hurt or killed for this, as there are plenty of effective and humane non-animal testing methods available.

While household name multinational companies with offices in New Zealand may say they do not test on animals in New Zealand, their product range is developed and tested by the parent company overseas.

Buying products not tested on animals is an easy and proactive way to show you are against the needless torture and killing of animals to produce cosmetics and household products.

Is cosmetic animal testing conducted in New Zealand?

It is difficult to know because companies are not required by law to submit information on what tests they are conducting. Under the Animal Welfare Act, if a company can ‘prove’ there is a need for testing a product or ingredient on animals an Animal Ethics Committee could approve such experiments.

SAFE is calling on the Government to provide an assurance that animal testing for cosmetic and household products will never be allowed to take place in New Zealand by making changes to the Animal Welfare Act, bringing us in line with other countries worldwide, including the European Union.

Click here to send a letter to the Prime Minister call for a change in the law.

So what animal testing is going on in New Zealand?

On average around 300,000 animals per year are used in experimentation, testing and teaching in New Zealand – from cats and dogs to rabbits, deer, mice, rats, fish, birds, pigs and guinea pigs. In 2009 a total of 297 111 live animals were experimented on. 55 per cent were killed or died as a result of the experiment.