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Fighting Animal Testing a Thousand Times Over

Lush and XCellR8 continue to champion safe, humane testing

We’ve been against animal testing and actively fight to eradicate it across the globe. One way we do this, is by investing in research that supports safe, humane testing methods. This year marks the 1000th product safety test with our Lush UK team and cell culture testing company XCellR8.

Our ongoing relationship with XCellR8—a company dedicated to providing ground-breaking in-vitro safety and efficacy tests for cosmetics—goes back to 2013, when the cell testing company won a £25,000 training prize in the Lush Prize.

After learning of their work, our UK team commissioned XCellR8 to carry out safety testing. Since then, XCellR8 has won global recognition for its work pioneering new approaches to animal-free safety testing for cosmetics.

Throughout the partnership, XCellR8 has learned a lot about the existing tests, developed new ones, and gained recognition for their completely animal-product-free testing methods by global regulators.

Although cosmetic ingredients can no longer be tested on animals in Europe, most safety data sheets from cosmetic ingredient suppliers still use that old, animal-tested data—which isn’t the most accurate. Lush has leading the way by testing 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 old animal-based methods.

Lush and XCellR8 are working together for a cruelty-free testing future.

Pink pipettes on a table

Lush director Karl Bygrave explains, “In the ‘70s there was concern about the way animals in laboratories were treated before they were used for testing. Since then, it has moved through campaigning for an end to animal testing, public awareness, public outcry and the introduction of legislation banning animal testing. This has led to the development of alternative tests, their validation and regulatory acceptance. What we haven’t seen is widespread use of alternatives in the cosmetic industry and this was highlighted to us when in 2013 XCellR8 won a Lush Prize for Training. They were training because there was not enough testing work. However, it’s been great to watch their testing division grow rapidly since then.”

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. Our ambition is to test all of our ingredients using completely animal free tests. We would like others to do the same, so that we never have to see another Material Safety Data Sheets which contain historic animal test results instead of more accurate and acceptable information.”

XCellR8’s completely animal-product-free approach was a key driver for the partnership with Lush. This approach is unique as many “non-animal” tests still use animal cell lines and animal related products and therefore Lush and XCellR8 don’t consider them truly cruelty-free. XCellR8’s approach to using human cell lines has enabled significant progress in the everyday use of a variety of non-animal tests, moving the methods away from the research bench and into real-life application. The experience and knowledge gained along the way benefits the whole industry.

XCellR8 and Lush have also run an outreach program to encourage suppliers to undertake their own non-animal safety testing using up-to-date methods, so that over time, safety data sheets will show human-based safety information in line with modern science.