This year California adopted the law that banned animal testing in cosmetic products.
To be honest, there is really no need these days to test cosmetic products on animals. All ingredients that are allowed to be used in cosmetics are already tested for safety, and if a company wanted to test a specific combination of ingredients for potential adverse reactions on human skin, animal testing wouldn’t tell them much, as we are quite different even across human population. How much value is it for consumer to know that a certain cream appeared to be comedogenic on rabbit’s ears?
However, the law also prohibits to use the ingredients that were tested on animals starting from 2020. The reasonable question is: how would new ingredients be tested then? Do we just skip animals and test the safety directly on humans?
Well, although the law has certain loopholes that larger ingredient manufacturers can exploit, many of them actually take the matter seriously and come up with new innovative tests.
For example, there are synthetic materials available today that resemble human skin and researches put this material as a barrier on top of the solution containing proteins, lipids and other components that are typically present in the deeper layers of the skin. Checking if the new ingredient is capable to penetrate the barrier and how it reacts with this solution, helps scientists to figure out whether the new ingredient is potentially effective and/if it might be an irritant, before they move on to the human or animal.
Another option is to run computer simulations based on what we already know about other ingredients with similar chemical compositions. This helps to save not just the animals, but also time and money and therefore the technology steadily advances.
Of course, there is also a pharmaceutical industry and so many cosmetic ingredients are also used in drugs, it is almost impossible to avoid the ingredients that are still required to undergo safety testing on animals. However, every step in the right direction counts and we are happy to be in California, that leads this movement in the US.