You know those pictures, 'Before' and 'After'? You get them on Ricky Lake and Jerry Springer. Inevitably the person looks even worse on the 'After' version, but the point is that the clothes are more expensive, and are possibly not made out of acrylic. Well, I saw one of those pictures recently. Except something wasn't quite right.

The 'Before' photo showed a beagle puppy. Cutest thing you've ever seen, even if you hate dogs. And the 'After'. was almost a puppy. I say almost, because there was so much blood you could only see the nose and eyes, and a dark tail sticking out to the side. It had its eyes squeezed shut. Gruesome, but it was on a flier given out in my city, by people who were against animal testing. That's what had happened to this beagle puppy; it had been tested on by a cosmetics company.

What puzzled me was that people would then buy the product. A woman would walk into a store and test the lipstick, shadow or gloss on her hand, smile a little, and hand over her money. This woman might own a pet, perhaps even a dog. She'd get home, feed it, and then reapply her makeup. Do people like this KNOW about what's going on? And if they did, would they buy a product that isn't tested on animals? I wish I could say- "yes, if that particular woman found out what was going on, she'd take one look at her dog and throw all her animal tested products in the bin". But awfully, I can't say this, because I'm not sure. Even though people buy their dogs chew toys, blankets, feed them little bits of chicken, they're still willing to pay for products that have tortured animals.

I hasten to say that while I'm not comfortable with animal experimentation for medicinal purposes, I would never write an article against it. For someone healthy like myself it's easy to say, "It's wrong!" However for someone who is sick it could be a matter of life and death. What I'm truly against is testing for cosmetic purposes. The dog in the picture was covered in blood so that someone could look NICE, not to try and save lives. That is not a fair trade.

After seeing the flier, I did a little of my own research. I wanted to see exactly what was being done to these animals. This excerpt from a BBC article explained it well- "These range from chemicals being dripped into the animals' eyes, injected into their bodies, forced up their nostrils or forced down their throats. Anaesthetics are not normally given. In each case, we are looking for signs of poisoning - symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding and fits. Those animals that do not die during the experiment will be killed at the end of it."

Not very nice, eh? And they are not required to test on animals; there is no law in any country that states 'you have to test your products on animals'. These cosmetics companies do it of their on free will, because apparently it works for them. This means that testing on animals is unnecessary. There are a lot of products and ingredients whose safety has already been proved by years of use on humans.

If you want to see which companies test on animals, there is a PETA list. For example, a company called 'Unilever' who I doubt you've heard for. But this company produces products from Rimmel, Elizabeth Arden, Calvin Klein, Persil and I can't believe it's not butter! The list is actually ten times longer than that. This makes it quite confusing for the consumer, as one huge company is producing all these goods and not all of them will have been tested on animals. However, I think to make a difference it's important to make sure we're not supporting a company who puts animals through this.

Another example- ever heard of Proctor and Gamble? You might have. In 1991 they tested about 300 guinea pigs to "determine irritancy and allergic sensitivity to sunscreen ingredients". Human data was already available. This means that it was already KNOWN how humans would react, but they tested it on guinea pigs anyway. This makes no sense, and it means that those guinea pigs died for absolutely nothing. Also, if a company such as Proctor and Gamble is willing to kill guinea pigs (for fun, I must assume, as there was no other reason to do it) then what else do they do that isn't very nice? More research revealed "At the end of 1991 the company was criticised for continuing to pollute the Fenholloway River with up to 50 million gallons of waste water each day from its cellulose plant in Florida. Fish in the river were being contaminated with dioxin, and water wells in the vicinity was allegedly unsafe to drink."

I'm willing to bet that you or someone you know has bought at least one product from Proctor and Gamble (who, by the way, had a licensing agreement with South Africa during the apartheid years. I know, they just get better and better, don't they?) P&G products include: Max Factor, Pampers, Head and Shoulders (shampoo), Vidal Sassoon, Fairy (soap). They do Ariel, Bold and Daz washing liquids (which is about 75% of the British market for that product). And every time you buy one of these products, or any product on the huge list that P&G have, you're contributing to their cause. Food for thought.

There are a LOT of other companies who I can't go into in detail (Reckitt and Colman, Colgate and Palmolive, SmithKline Peecham Plc) who have animals tested for them or do it themselves. SmithKline Peecham Plc make Ribena, can you believe? The way they operate is by hiding behind their brand names. You, the consumer, do not know, therefore you keep buying. Nice little set-up. By the way, in 1991 it was found that the people who make Ribena "removed the toes of baby mice, and kept beagles in metal cages with concrete floors and no bedding".

To conclude- animal testing for cosmetics is wrong. Animals are treated with extended cruelty, even when they are not tested on. The companies do not HAVE to test on animals; they CHOOSE to test on them. Animals are so badly injured that they either die during testing or have to be killed afterwards. They are rarely given anaesthetics for the pain. In a lot of cases, the data needed by the companies is already there, if they bothered to find it. But no, it's easier for them to kill.