Animal Testing

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. Do you use cosmetic products on a regular basis?
  2. Do you feel the cosmetic products you use are safe?
  3. Do you know how cosmetic products are tested before they reach the market?
  4. Can you guess how many animals were being used to test cosmetics each year in the European Union prior to 2009?

Vocabulary Preview

  • ban: to disallow, make illegal
  • cosmetics: products used to beautify the body
  • toxicity: the degree to which something is poisonous
  • experiments: observations or tests
  • substances: matter, material
  • benefits: advantages, assets
  • risks: dangers
  • penetration: entering into or through something
  • irritate: to cause pain or annoyance

Practice these new vocabulary words here: Animal Testing

Animal Testing

  1. After ten years of discussion and debate, the European parliament voted to ban the use of animal testing for cosmetic products. The act was passed with a huge majority. The ban took effect in March of 2009.
  2. Prior to the ban, approximately 38,000 animals in the European Union (EU) were used to test the toxicity in new cosmetic products each year. The large majority of cosmetic products are tested on animals before reaching the market. Products include toothpaste, shampoo, make-up, hair dye, nail polish and many more.
  3. In 2013, the EU took the ban on step further by including their trading partners. Cosmetic companies worldwide who want to sell cosmetics in the EU now have to prove their cosmetics are safe without animal testing. The EU wanted to set an example for the rest of the world.
  4. There are many different types of experiments conducted on animals to test the benefits and risks of cosmetic products. Some of these tests include:
  • Skin penetration - The skin penetration tests are used to determine how deep cosmetic ingredients might penetrate the skin.
  • Eye irritation - In this test, substances are dropped into the eyes of albino rabbits, to determine how irritating they may be.
  • Skin irritation - A substance is smeared over the shaved back of a group of animals, usually rabbits or guinea pigs.
  • Oral toxicity - Animals are force fed a substance once or repeatedly to determine the toxic effects.

      5.  Though there has been great concern over the use of animals to test cosmetics,              many feel it is the most effective way to protect consumers who use them. The                  cosmetic industry insists that animal testing is the best way by far to test for                      cancer-causing and allergy-causing chemicals. The industry also feels that it is                  involved not only in the development of vanity products, but also health products              such as toothpaste and sunscreen.


    1. What did the European parliament vote to do?
    2. Prior to 2009, roughly how many animals were used each year to test new cosmetics in the EU?
    3. When did the ban on animal testing take effect?
    4. Why does the cosmetic industry feel that testing on animals is important?
    5. How did the 2013 ban change the rules in the EU?

    Post Reading Questions

    1. Do you think that animal testing can be justified for certain cosmetic products?
    2. Do you think it's right to conduct animal testing for products that only serve to enhance our beauty?
    3. Do you think there should be any limitation on the animal testing for health products such as pharmaceuticals?

    Additional Resources