We first met global retailer Lush when we were awarded the Lush Prize for Training back in 2013. The award recognised the hundreds of scientists we’d trained in animal-free testing techniques.
Shortly afterwards, we began modifying and developing cell culture tests for Lush products and raw materials. Now, after 1000 safety tests have been completed and with new products in the test programme, dozens of cosmetic products have proven safety data without any animals having been harmed.
Leading the way
Although the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals has been banned in Europe, most safety data sheets from cosmetic ingredient suppliers still depend on historic animal data. Lush have led the way by encouraging innovation in alternative testing, and in partnership with XCellR8, test their ingredients using scientifically advanced tests based on human cell cultures and reconstructed models of the skin and eye. As well as being cruelty-free, these tests provide a much more accurate prediction of human health effects, compared with the old animal-based methods.
Throughout our four year partnership, we’ve made significant progress in moving animal-free tests away from the research bench and into real-life application, most notably gaining recognition from global regulators for our 100% animal product-free methods. Some of our highlights include:
- The recent completion of an extensive project to screen approximately 450 ingredients for genotoxicity, providing key safety information to Lush product formulators
- Extensive testing of relevant ingredients for skin sensitisation potential, enabling Lush to formulate gentler products and minimise the risk of allergy for their customers
- Adapting the tests for use with finished products, including newly released bath oils and hair care formulations
- Ongoing testing of finished products when needed, to support the formulation and product development process and as a prelude to testing on human volunteers
- Development of a brand new human cell based screen for acute toxicity, which is now in use by ingredient manufacturers to build a weight of safety evidence for regulatory submissions
- Adaptation of existing non-animal skin sensitisation tests to remove the animal-derived components, such as bovine serum which still requires the painful sacrifice of unborn calves
We’re proud to have jointly moved the debate on from fighting animal testing to advocating the scientifically superior alternatives, and look forward to proactive product labelling such as ‘Tested on human cell cultures’.
Commenting on the 1000 test milestone, Lush Director Karl Bygrave explains, “Our vision for safety testing at Lush has always been to eliminate animal tests, not just for ethical reasons but because we are unhappy with the scientific validity of historic animal-based methods. Our partnership with XCellR8 enhances the safety of our customers and brings benefits for the whole industry.”
He continues, “One of the frustrations for us is that whenever we receive a Material Safety Data Sheet from an ingredient supplier, it always contains animal test data – usually downloaded from the internet. We have to do better than that.”
“So we decided that we would test all our ingredients using a range of alternative tests so that we could build up our experience of alternatives, learn more about our ingredients and encourage our suppliers to use alternatives from a position of knowledge.”