It’s a hard pill for any beauty lover to swallow, but the truth is that, despite many improvements and breakthroughs, a large number of cosmetic manufacturers are still testing their products on animals. And it’s not looking good on home soil – 40 countries across the world have banned animal testing for cosmetics – but South Africa isn’t one of them.
Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars have joined forces with Humane Society International (HSI) to produce a powerful stop-motion animated short film, #SaveRalph, to end cosmetic testing on animals around the world. Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn are a few of the familiar faces (or in this case, voices) that star in the film.
The film aims to shine a light on the suffering animals endure and engage consumers and policy makers in HSI’s mission to ban it.
Jeffrey Flocken, Humane Society International’s president, says: “Save Ralph is a wake-up call that animals are still suffering for cosmetics, and now is the time for us to come together to ban it globally. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer to test cosmetics or their ingredients.”
Joseph Mayson, HSI-Africa’s campaign manager, says: “Sadly, there’s no happy ending for animals like Ralph, but by working together we can ensure that no animal is ever again made to suffer in the name of beauty. It’s easy to assume that companies are the problem, but the truth is they are a vital part of the solution. It’s laws that need to be changed, and industry leaders like Lush, Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal and Avon are working with us to secure meaningful animal testing bans in many of the world’s most influential beauty markets. We’ve recruited Ralph as our spokesbunny to help get these laws over the finish line.
Over 90% of South Africans support a ban on animal testing for cosmetics, so with industry and the public on our side, we believe it is only a matter of time before South Africa joins the 40 countries that have already banned this practice.”
While it’s up to governments and world leaders to ban the act of animal testing, we are not completely powerless as individuals. By educating ourselves and arming ourselves with knowledge, we can make informed decisions when it comes to our beauty purchases. Do your research and choose to support cruelty-free brands. The truth is that there is really no excuse: as humans we have the means to test products and ingredients without the use of animals. If the covid-19 pandemic and a year in lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that the world needs more kindness and compassion – not more greed.
We asked Joseph Mayson, HSI-Africa Campaign Manager, a couple of questions:
Forty countries across the world have banned animal testing for cosmetics, but South Africa isn’t one of them – why do you think this is?
It is largely a problem of a lack of awareness and political will. Where previous campaigns have not had widespread buy-in from consumers and corporates, our campaign has the support of major companies such as Avon, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, L’Oreal, H&M, Lush, and others. Further, although our petition to end cosmetic animal testing was only initiated a month ago, we already have close to 40 000 signatures. We believe that the support we are seeing from consumers and corporates will convince politicians to ban the use of animals in cosmetics testing and the sale of new cosmetics that have been tested on animals, regardless of where the testing takes place.
If a country has banned animal testing for cosmetics, does this mean that cosmetics manufactured within that country may not be tested on animals, or does it mean that no products tested on animals may be sold in that country, or both?
A testing ban prohibits the testing of cosmetics on animals. A sales ban prohibits the sale of cosmetic products that have been tested animals. Some countries only have a testing ban, and some countries have both testing and sales bans. We support both a testing and sales ban in South Africa. A recent rigorous poll showed that 90% of South African consumers support a testing ban and 86% support a sales ban.
There are so many alternative methods of cosmetic testing, why do you think there are so many companies that still engage in animal testing?
There are a number of reasons why this may be the case, although we don’t have all the answers. Some companies do it so that they can access certain markets. Some countries or agencies within countries do not yet trust or accept cruelty-free methods of testing, even though the largest cosmetics market (the European Union) only allows alternative methods of testing and has been thriving. However, decision-makers around the world are beginning to understand that many cruelty-free methods of testing have been proven to be more accurate and cheaper than tests that use animals.
How do we know whether or not a product has been tested on animals? Will products that have not been tested on animals necessarily have a ‘cruelty-free’ label or logo on their packaging?
Not all cruelty-free products have ‘cruelty-free’ logos on their packaging, such as Dove and Herbal Essences. The best way to make sure that you are shopping cruelty-free is to search for a product you are interested in on a cruelty-free accreditation website such as Leaping Bunny, Beauty Without Bunnies, and Logical Harmony.
What can we as individuals do to help?
Besides making cruelty-free purchases, people can help by signing our petition at hsi.org/saveralph, by sharing the Save Ralph video on social media and by following Humane Society International – Africa on Facebook and Instagram.
You can watch the short film here.