Dr Carol Treasure was recently invited to be a guest speaker for MSc Cosmetic Science students at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. The virtual webinar, centred around creating safe and effective cosmetics using animal-free science, focussing on the question: what is truly animal-free testing?

MSc Cosmetic Science webinarThe integrated Masters in Cosmetic Science is a unique course that offers specific scientific knowledge and skills which prepare students to enter the cosmetic industry in a variety of roles in research and product development, NPD management, safety, and regulatory compliance. Several alumni have even trained further and become fragrance evaluators. The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) recognises the course as one of “immediate relevance to the industry” due to its scientific, technological, and business curriculum. After having a great discussion with the Cosmetic Science students, we thought we’d share some of the questions we got asked!

Is there a big difference in price between animal-free testing methods and animal tests?

Many of the animal-free tests are cheaper than the traditional animal studies. But in some instances, this varies. For example, with skin sensitisation, there are 3 animal-free tests to replace the 1 animal test therefore this is more expensive.

What, if any, are the drawbacks for the 3D skin models available at the moment?

One of the drawbacks is the skin barrier on 3D skin models as it is thinner than the barrier would be on most of our bodies. This means that ingredients get absorbed more than they would in a human volunteer study. From a safety perspective that’s actually good because you are erring on the side of caution – you’re looking at a worst-case scenario because you’ve got more absorption. It’s important to remember the fully validated in vitro tests have already taken this into consideration, but it is definitely something that needs to be taken into account when looking at a brand-new test. The key is always making sure that there is good predictability.

Is the 7-point scale for animal testing something XCellR8 hope to be used commercially?

XCellR8 scale of animal-free testingFor every test we do at XCellR8, we offer a clear ethical assessment. We also encourage other companies to use our 7-point scale as a transparency tool. There might be some companies that are okay with using something in the amber zone, but others looking for a truly vegan approach, that only want to use tests that sit at the top levels of the scale. We are really starting to use it more and more on our website and social media and hope that more companies follow suit!


What do you think are some of the factors stopping companies from using these methods and continuing with older methods?

In some parts of the world, it could be due to regulation. 80% of countries around the world still allow animal testing for cosmetics.

It could also be the fear of the unknown. There is a tendency to shrink back from innovation and stick to what you are comfortable with because you’ve have always done it a certain way. This is a great opportunity for education, talking about those fears and offering scientifically advanced, animal-free testing approaches that can be relied on.

Some companies are developing cosmetic ingredients that are also used in other industry sectors. For example, an ingredient might be used in both a cosmetic product and a household product. For those products, it is still easier to do some animal tests.


This year, the MSc Cosmetic Science course celebrates its 20th anniversary which will culminate in a virtual event held on 12 May, be sure to watch out for invites on their social media.

We really enjoyed being able to give the students a look at what we do here at XCellR8 and hope we will have the opportunity to be there in person next year – thanks LCF for having us!


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