“The Cosmetics Wars” By Mark Bittman

Goddess Huntress | "Cosmetic Wars" by Mark Bittman

In yesterday’s New York Times there was a fantastic op-ed piece by Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters, titled “The Cosmetic Wars”.

Mark Bittman wrote his piece in response to the European Union’s ban on the sale of cosmetic ingredients tested on animals to go into effect next month.  He brings up a great angle for debate…

Animals are being protected, but who is protecting us because we are animals too?

He also shines light on a general hypocrisy in our culture in regards to animal testing and cruelty, by asking to consider the quality of life of the millions of lab animals versus the quality of life of the millions of animals killed every year in the cruel livestock industry.  This is definitely  an interesting point.  So many people are avid cruelty-free consumers, but then don’t extend that sentiment in their food consumption.

One Goddess Huntress reader brought up an interesting question after viewing my post earlier on Instagram and Facebook…”Could it be argued that tested animals are kept alive to be tortured, and factory farm livestock tortured to be killed?”

Animal testing is such a provocative topic.  Inflicting harm on animals is definitely not desired. Animal testing is unfortunately the best method, as of now, to determine carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.  If you really think about it, it is because of animal testing we have lists like The Stay The Hell Away List. A successful departure from this barbaric method must be discovered to provide us with crucial scientific results.

At the end of the day, it isn’t all “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.  Use products with good-for-you ingredients that would never have to be tested on animals, be mindful of what you do need to stay away from, educate ourselves and others on free-range, antibiotics, hormone-free, and the awful realities of the farming industry so better food consumption and animal treatment choices can be made.

What are your thoughts on animal testing and Mark Bittman’s Op-Ed piece? Shouldn’t “cruelty-free” include humans too?

Read the full article HERE and voice your views in the comments below.



  1. Hi Monique,
    I red Mark’s piece. As a manufacturer the FDA is pretty much useless and I don’t believe the government can or effectively regulate anything. But what I do believe in is consumerism. The consumers right to choose. There is nothing more powerful then the almighty consumer dollar. The effects of which are seen each year as people decide to choose more natural products. It’s a wonderful thing. Women will lead this change, as they naturally do with everything. As more and more people choose safer “good” alternatives and ingredients manufacturers will modify their actions and ways of doing business. Yes, you will always find women who will put just about anything on their skin, safe, legal or not for a wrinkle. But isn’t that what is so wonderful about America. Knowledge is good and it’s sites like yours that help savvy people find great products. Keep up the good work! Kim

    • Kim, it is one of the best vantage points to see how consumers are shaping the marketplace into a safer place each and every year. Also, this is thanks to you and all the other great people creating healthy, effective products that shift consumers behaviors.

  2. As a scientist and mom, I am very torn. I remember in the eighties debating with disgust the atrocities of animal testing, of the idea that an animal was tortured merely to see what would happen if I sprayed hairspray in my eyes rather than in my hair. And I still feel that there are plenty of instances in which animals are not cared for sufficiently and may be subjected to scientific testing that regardless of scientific merit, is not carried out in an ethical and respectful manner. Unfortunately, this is a trend in humanity. In the past the scientific community has performed scientific testing on animals and humans without consent and without concern for ethics and respect. However, there is scientific testing that is meritorious, that identifies ways to better all animals and our planet. We will not be able to go without scientific testing, and although it is extremely distasteful, model organisms are often necessary for early testing. But I feel that much can be done to improve the manner of treatment and respect of such animals. We are not so far removed on the evolutionary tree, and I believe that science must continue, but we would be best served to perform science in an ethical and respectful manner to all of us animals.

    • Samantha,
      So eloquently put. Indeed there are a few facets to this issue. Thank you for sharing your highly regarded views as both mom and scientist.

  3. I read the article and debated joining the debate. I think this article brings about some interesting thoughts but where I see the problem, and where part of my own internal debate begins, is with the separation of need for survival vs torturing something so I can have sparkly finger tips. While I detest it, medical testing on animals is probably not something we are capable of eliminating at this time. In my view, it’s a whole other, ahem, animal to rub a rabbit’s skin raw with a rasp and rub face cream in the wound than injecting a rabbit with a drug that might be able to control the growth of cancer or (insert any other pet/personal disease of choice here). Two completely different things in my view of the world.

    Also, the argument that you should no more worry about animal testing for cosmetics than you should worry about factory farming and the cruelty inherent within…I get that? I do? But again, feeding people vs sparkly eye shadow?
    See my point? It’s a valid argument, but I don’t think it’s the same argument. I see these as very separate issues. Factory farming is one of the most disgusting and appalling practices known to man. But I don’t have an answer to eliminate it. I am not well enough informed to speak on it, but I don’t think “why buy cruelty free when factory farms still exist?” is even a valid question. Maybe I’m not saving countless pigs from torture in a factory farm, but I feel I am saving a rabbit or rat or monkey or dog, cat, etc from needless torture when I don’t buy L’Oreal. My local zoo has a sign up that I always try to remember when I get overwhelmed by my feelings that I’m not doing enough: “The biggest mistake anyone ever made was doing nothing because he could only do a little”. I apologize, I don’t remember who it’s credited to. Maybe my butterLondon cruelty free choice, or my Zoya vegan choice doesn’t save every suffering animal, but maybe it saves one. I do a little because I can, it’s something I can actively control in my world, a conscious choice. I’m not going to stop promoting and buying cruelty free because it isn’t fixing factory farming. I work in long term care…to put a perspective on this argument, I’m not going to stop being kind to the residents where I work because I’m not stopping cruelty to the elderly everywhere. I’m doing what I can.

    As a result, I try to be wise in my spending choices, not knowingly support nor advocate anything that is tested on animals and I eat as little meat as possible. I actually prefer vegetables anyways. Carrots are friends!

    I think this issue is a matter of priority. I can get vegan nail polish and makeup and I do. I only blog what I believe to be cruelty free and I try to offer up affordable, easy to find solutions to those who read me that are safe for that giant bunny living in my yard and the string of pets that go missing in my area every few years to labs. Yes. They will drive by at night and steal pets to sell to labs. Pets. Reprehensible. When I come across a viable solution to factory farming and medical testing I will advocate those solutions to the best of my ability and voice as well. I would love to see an end to a world where we had to survive by the suffering of another living thing. I don’t believe one life is more valuable than another regardless of it’s form. You’re talking to a girl who catches spiders in butter dishes and puts them outside in the bushes despite their determination to bite me in my sleep. I wish they’d stop!

    As for being used as a guinea pig ourselves…I wish I were surprised. But we are wiser than we’ve been and we get wiser all the time. You offer up a great resource of things to avoid in your products and I try always to keep in mind when I get dazzled by a sale sign that what we put on our skin is absorbed by our skin. I like the stuff that has a short ingredient list. Maybe I pay more out of pocket but I get more for my skin and health. At a certain point I have learned to accept I can only do what I can do. My job is to educate myself and make wise choices and speak up to help others learn from what I have tried.
    And if that cream gives you a rash, throw it out!
    If the powers that be are going to let us be used as guinea pigs then it’s up to us to be a little informed and responsible for our choices. I wish things were different but they aren’t.

    Sorry for the super long response…it’s a topic I’m passionate about. There are a lot of grey areas.

    • Tricksie,

      I’m glad you joined in with your comment. There is lots of grey in this issue, it is complex. I agree with all your points. While I would love for someone/people/governing agency to protect us and protect animals, it isn’t the case. That “someone” is us.

  4. “We need activists pressing our elected representatives to empower the F.D.A. to safeguard us against known unsafe ingredients as well as unknown unsafe ingredients.”

    Are you heading to D.C.? :) Mark Bittman is one to never shy from speaking his mind and this topic does open a lot of questions about what has been acceptable in terms of testing and chemicals to date. I think a starting point of what cannot be used – like your list – might be the best possible starting point for making changes in the beauty and personal care industry.

    • Ha! Erin, don’t put author of legislature past me. Seriously.

      What is so great about the provocative Mark Bittman piece is that it was in the front section of the New York Times, bringing the ignored issue to the forefront, more profound…motivating new and seasoned activists.