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Alternative Testing or Testing Alternatives?
Posted: November 5, 2007
Picture this: I am driving in a taxi somewhere with a female colleague from the industry. After an entire day of cosmetic claim substantiation work, she asks me an intriguing question.
“Tell me, Johann, how would you measure breast firming?”
The only obvious response I knew immediately was not a politically correct one. I clinched my fists and let my brain do some work. One thing was obvious—this lady was after an alternative test method. A hilarious discussion followed on how a woman could lower her breast into a cup (or container, depending on cup size) filled with water and measure the quantity of spilled water before and after having applied the firming product. This simply had to be an appropriate, albeit very Dutch, method of measuring breast firming since, according to my dictionary, the Dutch word for bosom (“boezem”) also means a “system of reservoirs for superfluous polder-water.”
The cosmetic world needs testing alternatives because doing the logical thing is sometimes too painful, too embarrassing, too dangerous, too difficult or, in this case, politically incorrect. Especially in toxicology, the need for alternative testing is enormous. Actually, there is a need for testing alternatives for test alternatives since animal testing is, after all, already an alternative for human testing.
The Draize test is a beautiful example thereof. This is a test in which 0.5 ml or 0.5 g of a test chemical or test product is applied to a small area of shaved skin of albino rabbits for up to 4 hr. The production of an irritant response--erythema and edema formation--is measured by visual inspection of the skin at 1, 24, 48 and 72 hr after patch removal. But, as every child can understand, such testing brings suffering, and this is perceived differently now than when the test was developed more than 60 years ago.1