Cosmetic testing usually uses rabbits in their experiments and it almost always involves putting the cosmetic or components of the cosmetic directly into the rabbits eyes. Their eyes are very sensitive and side effects of the cosmetics is tracked. Redness, dryness, irritation and blindness are some effects that can be used to determine if a product would be too dangerous for a human. Cosmetics are also tested on the skin of animals to determine their irritation level.
Many companies have developed non-animal testing methods that are as good or better at evaluating product safety. For instance, eye irritation for a chemical might be tested on donated human retinas, and cultured human skin can be used to evaluate skin reactions. Unfortunately, there is still plenty of animal testing going on for a variety of products.
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