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An End to Mascara Tests on Rabbits

Mascara is a mild irritant and rabbits have historically been used to test how much discomfort new products can cause. However, a cheaper and more reliable test is now being developed by scientists at the University of Liverpool in the UK involving miniscule protozoa. This will remove animal cruelty from the equation. The study was published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

The scientists tested six brands of mascara by painting it on small glass plates and placing these in small chambers. The team then added the protozoa and their food. The protozoa– the slipper ciliate (Paramecium caudatum) and the eyelash ciliate (Blepharisma japonicum) – were chosen carefully because of their large size, their historic use as model organisms, and their genetic similarities to humans.There was a substantial difference between brands of mascara with some killing the protozoa and others not harming them at all.

A release from the university quotes researcher Dr David Montagnes as saying, "This test has great potential for reducing the use of rabbits as it is both cheap and reliable, and while the protozoa have a similar metabolism to animals they are not classed as such. Indeed, the traditional test used on rabbits – the Draize test – was developed more than 40 years ago and is both time consuming and expensive, as well as giving rise to ethical issues. When you can develop a simpler and cheaper alternative, there is really no need to test cosmetics on animals."

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