Animals in Need

Rabbits, rats, guinea pigs and mice tend to be the animals used most in cosmetics experiments. Animals like rabbits are particularly favoured because of their gentle nature, and because of their eyes. Horrifyingly, because their eyes are large and they have no tear ducts it means the effects of chemicals dripped in them can easily be studied as they can’t be washed away by tears.

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:

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.

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.


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.

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.