Animal Tests and Alternatives

Animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats are made to suffer and die in a variety of routine tests for cosmetics products and their ingredients. These include:

Repeated dose toxicity

This test assesses whether long-term repeated use of a substance is poisonous. Rabbits or rats are forced to eat or inhale a cosmetics ingredient or have it rubbed onto their shaved skin every day for 28 or 90 days, and are then killed.

Reproductive toxicity

This test assesses whether use of a substance may have an effect on fertility, sexual behaviour, birth and growth of the young. Pregnant female rabbits or rats are force-fed a cosmetics ingredient and then killed along with their unborn babies. Such tests take a long time and use thousands of animals.


This test assesses how a substance is absorbed, distributed, metabolised and excreted by the body. Rabbits or rats are forced to consume a cosmetics ingredient before being killed and their organs examined to see how the ingredient was distributed in their bodies.

Skin sensitisation

This test assesses whether a substance will make the skin increasingly inflamed and itchy each time it is used. A cosmetics ingredient is rubbed onto the shaved skin of guinea pigs and ears of mice to see if they have an allergic reaction. They are then killed.


A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer or increases the likelihood that someone will develop cancer. To assess this, rats are force-fed a cosmetics ingredient for two years to see if they get cancer and are then killed.