I witnessed a shampoo test on rabbits once years ago — and made a life-long promise:
“Paul Penders products will NEVER be tested on animals!”
Since the earliest days of our company, I have opposed testing of cosmetics and personal care products on animals. But there’s good news! The world now knows it is no longer necessary to use animals to test beauty products to ensure safe human use. Much more accurate tests are available.
More good news! Animal tests are no longer required by laws in most countries – in fact, in Europe, they are banned.
Since March 2013, cosmetic companies can no longer sell their products in Europe if they have been tested on animals. This is a huge step forward. India recently banned animal tests for cosmetics and bills are being proposed in the U.S. Congress to stop them as well. Only China seems to be lagging behind in requiring animal tests – and there are a number of groups attempting to get those requirements changed.
Why have these countries banned animal tests? Because the new tests are better!
Nearly 50 non-animal tests have been developed and validated. The new tests are considered more efficient, accurate, and ethical — and at the same time, cheaper and more cost-effective.
What are the alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics?
New tests have been created for many possible problems including eye irritation, skin sensitization, and photo toxicity — that do not require animals.
To test for skin irritation, for example, cosmetic surgeons and their patients are now donating skin removed during cosmetic surgery to be used for cosmetic tests. Using human skin to test human reactivity has proved to be far more effective than the horrific “Draize” test that used to be done on rabbits. This is progress!
Here are some examples of the new tests:
As the Billy Joel song says: “Honesty – is such a lonely word…
You might just as well be blind.
It always seems to be so hard to give.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.”
As a small company, like so many others, we must fight unfair regulations and unfounded criticisms – and just plain dishonest claims used as “scare tactics” aimed at eliminating competition. Case in point, a political lobby based in Washington DC called the “Environmental Working Group” known as “EWG.” They post a database that claims to give ”safety information” on ingredients in cosmetics.
Called “Skin Deep,” the database has a “rating system” that rates products from cosmetic companies including 33 products from Paul Penders with 132 ingredients. Out of all these ingredients, only 2 are rated as “high hazard.” What are they? ‘Fragrance’ and Vitamin A.
Fragrance, they claim, is a “chemical cocktail” of untested ingredients. Let me tell you upfront that Paul Penders uses only natural flower oils to give our products pleasing scents.
As to the claims against Vitamin A that it may be toxic, here’s a quote from the “Cosmetics Cop” which we find to be a much authoritative source:
Retinyl palmitate received some negative publicity in May 2010 when a press release was issued stating that it is linked to skin cancer and tumor growth. The FDA was implicated in this scare-tactic report, but as it turns out the assertions made against retinyl palmitate were not conclusive or firmly supported by published research. In fact, retinyl palmitate is one of the primary antioxidants found naturally in skin (Source: Toxicology and Industrial Health, May 2006, pages 181-191). http://www.cosmeticscop.com/cosmetic-ingredient-dictionary/definition/1253/retinyl-palmitate.aspx
How many people are blindly being mislead by EWG – and anyone who publicly says that Paul Penders would use ingredients that are connected to terrible diseases? For over 40 years, we have used only safe, good ingredients that have been approved by chemists and which we have tested on human volunteers (never on animals). We receive very few complaints and we take those that we do receive very seriously.
Look carefully at EWG’s rating system.
They base it on reading published literature about ingredients and not on doing any actual scientific research or testing of a particular product. They rate hazard levels based on their evaluation of the ingredients from the literature – and as we all know, anyone can write anything in a free society and post it on the internet!
Even the most reputable scientists make mistakes and offer warnings of dangers without adequate testing. EWG publishes warnings about ingredients in a format that makes the reader assume they are fact – when in fact, much of the literature is anecdotal or based on observations of a small sample group.
How would it be if doctors had to rely on a list like this for their prescriptions? Compare the EWG rating system to the detailed descriptions of benefits and percentages of patients who have had adverse reactions given with prescription drugs. This rating system is junk – and designed to scare and confuse.
And we are not alone in this opinion.
My friend Lisa Rodgers from ‘Personal Care Truth’ suggests anyone who wants to know more about EWG should go to her website, http://personalcaretruth.com and look up on the site for the many articles about EWG. To quote her, “Plenty of articles pop up that talk about how the Skin Deep Database is not reliable to the EWG being a cash cow.” She also suggests reading more about ingredients on these reputable sites: http://www.cir-safety.org/ingredients/glossary/all and http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/
Says Lisa: “We are still fighting them through posts and commenting on other sites. Until mainstream media finds them unreliable and starts to offer balanced reporting, the only recourse we have is to keep posting articles that contradict what the EWG and CFSC claim.”
The motivation for this blog came because recently one of our distributors received the following distressing letter from a customer:
Please could I return the Paul Penders products – I haven’t opened them. Only I have just had a [major disease] and I’m probably being over sensitive, but saw this: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/brand/Paul_Penders/ on the Internet and so it worried me. Sorry about that. Can I send the Paul Penders products back?
Bluntly speaking, we are not afraid to have our customers look at our listings on “Skin Deep.” We are proud of the safety and efficacy of our ingredients. We are afraid that this is an example of the scare tactics and untruths presented by EWG that hurts our company and our customers. It saddens us greatly that this customer turned to EWG and did not refer to other more scientific sources.
EWG does not present scientifically proven facts in a clear manner. If they can give a really scary message, that comes in handy in their campaigns for more funds. As a political advocacy organization in the US capital city, they are very powerful with access to the leaders of the free world. But here at PP, we don’t like them because their ‘truths’ about cosmetics seem to be mostly lies.
“Twinkle, twinkle little star!” If you are down in the warehouse of Paul Penders International on the island of Penang in Malaysia, you might hear someone humming sweetly. Meet Siti, a lovely Malaysian young woman from the town of Teluk Bahang. Why is she singing? Because her 4-year old daughter came home from nursery school to teach her mom the song in English she learned in school that day.
Siti has worked at the Paul Penders warehouse since November 2011. Previously she held jobs in tourist hotels. Her husband continues to work as a security guard in a hotel in the famed resort town of Batu Ferringhi which is just minutes away. She tells me they live just a few steps away from the warehouse in this fishing village by the sea – a very short commute. Siti has lived all her life here.
One of her favorite phrases is, “Seriously.” Siti is not really shy – or very somber. She has a beautiful warm smile and readily hugs me hello when I first meet her. Her colleagues say she is always smiling and friendly – she has a great attitude!
At first, she says, it was hard for her to know where and what things were in the warehouse and to figure out the tallies from the many boxes of products that surround her. What helped was when her “bosses” gave her samples of the cosmetics to try out at home and to give to her friends. One of five children – 3 brothers and a sister — she and her sister experiment with the products and compare notes. She’s now a big fan of PP products!
Mrs. Tan at work in the PP Warehouse in Teluk Bahang, Penang Island
Siti now feels quite confident that she has the warehouse tightly organized. When the lab upstairs ran out of a liquid to make a new batch, her boss, Bas, raced downstairs to the warehouse to get more. I watched as Siti led him directly to the correct barrel and carefully poured out the exact quantity needed. People are in and out all day – Mrs. Tan who helps part-time pops in for more supplies. She is a lovely smiling Chinese Malaysian woman who is a bit shy about her English but her co-workers say she’s efficient, helpful, and very kind-hearted. Mrs. Tan speaks Mandarin and Malay; Siti switches fluently between Malay and English at will.
Siti receives supplies delivered to the PP Warehouse
The Paul Penders warehouse is spacious and airy with high shelves filled with cartons in all sizes and shapes. When the large screen door is opened for deliveries, it can get quite hot — but Siti is uncomplaining. She turns the radio on softly, sits up on a stool with a mountain of paperwork beside her — and sorts, counts, packs, and ships PP products all over the world.
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Hong (center) and her beautiful family on Langkawi
There is something about Langkawi. Paul Penders’ Operations Manager Hong was born on the island and it was not until she was 16 years old that she went to the mainland to study. While in Alor Setar and Penang, she says, “I really did not go anywhere except school. Just study, maybe to a cinema. I never went anywhere…school/study/school activities eg sport/… if there was a long holiday, went out with a gang of friends for holiday/mountain hiking/beach….”When she took a job with Malaysia Airlines, she had the possibility of living almost anywhere in the country or even overseas if there were a staff shortage. Still she decided to return to Langkawi which she tells me she loves. She continued to work for nearly 15 years for the airline in customer service and ticketing at the island’s international airport.
Some of the members of the Malaysia-based staff of Paul Penders International gathered for a planning meeting. Hong is on Paul’s left (top left of photo)
Now Hong travels the world from her phone and computer. Every day of the week, she’s connecting with the UK, the USA, most of the countries in Europe. Requests come in from Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Japan, Korea and from elsewhere in Malaysia. “Most of the time, communications are via email with the customer unless there is an urgent matter, they’ll contact me via phone.” Luckily, she speaks three languages!
If you call the “hotline” to place a volume order for Paul Penders products, chances are you will be greeted by Hong’s warm and friendly voice. You may not see her sweet smile (unless you Skype) but you’re likely to feel it. Hong oversees the international operations from the main office on Langkawi island in Malaysia. She is in overall charge of receiving and shipping — coordinating with the several factories spread around the world to see orders are shipped correctly and in a timely manner.
Paul Penders International main office is located on Langkawi Geopark Island, Malaysia (Photo Credit: Jarina)
When a call comes in, Hong enters all details in the computer, then contacts the designated factory to tell them to start manufacturing. Each shipment of Paul Penders products is freshly made by the PP chemists in the laboratories, then the factory fills jars and bottles, boxes them, and readies the batch for shipping.
“Shipping can be quite troublesome for customers,” she says. Hong asks distributors who want large volume if they have a shipping agent. She recommends using a forwarding agent. If they have an existing relationship, then she will communicate directly with the agent. If not, she searches for a local agent to deliver the goods. She checks the shipping agent is reliable, then sends them all the necessary information for transport through customs.
“The most difficult part of my job,” she says, “is remembering all the changes that customers require.” Shipments across international borders have become so complex that constant adjustments are required.
Family is the center of Hong’s life. Her husband manages a car repair operation that has been in the family for years and many relatives gather on Langkawi for the holidays (but she says she cannot change a tire). She’s the mother of three and concerned about her children’s education and opportunities. Her eldest son is now 17 and will take his exams next fall, then they will figure out which university he will attend. Her 15-year old daughter will also be off to college in the next few years. Still she won’t have ‘an empty nest’ as her baby girl is still only 4 years old.
Hong’s children in London
She loves Langkawi, loves her job, and has such a love for life. She says she has “an excellent boss, the job is challenging, but there’s lots of good support and understanding.” When she started the job, she says, “Actually, at first I felt scared. This was almost a new field for me, especially because most of the time I have to communicate with the customer via email. Before (at the airline) I was face-to-face with customers; now you are communicating using email and phone.”
At first, she was also a little worried that to work for Paul Penders, she would have to wear a lot of cosmetics! She says, “I don’t normally like to put on makeup. I clean my face (and uses Paul Penders cleansers, moisturizers, and shampoos) but I don’t wear anything – I’m not the type of woman who likes to put on cosmetics,” especially in Langkawi’s tropical climate.
By Teviot Fairservis.
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Walk a mile in the shoes of an animal being used for scientific testing. Now how do you feel?
I just watched a video by a UK organization that wants the public to understand the need for using animals for research. They begin with images of cute little mice burying shiny marbles, then go on to dramatic images of patients and caregivers dealing with the horrors of a serious disease. Then back to a comparison of digging behaviors between normal versus gene-altered mice. We see mice in plastic containers digging into deep bedding material and the announcer infers they are having fun. What we don’t see is any food, water, or way of escape provided for these caged animals. Don’t the researchers get it?
Jacqueline Traide does. She actually went through being restrained, force-fed, injected, and shaved. Irritants were dripped into her eyes; her mouth was stretched open with metal clamps. In a stunning 10-hour long “performance art” piece to protest animal testing, she endured the same treatments inflicted on animals in laboratories around the world. You can see her and her partner, Oliver Cronk, dressed in the typical white coat of a scientist (or doctor or dentist) in some horrific photos from the UK’s Daily Mail which asked, “Is this the most extreme window display ever? Brutal treatment of woman, 24, as she is subjected to ‘animal tests’ in front of horrified shoppers.”Read more..
One afternoon, sitting in my kitchen over coffee, Paul Penders told me about his first experiences as a young entrepreneur. Armed with samples of his grandmother’s shampoo which he hoped to market, he was excited to have been invited by the Dutch authorities to bring the shampoo into a lab for testing. He knew the shampoo contained nothing toxic to humans and fully expected to receive immediate approval. Ah, the naivete of youth. Paul then had the “wakeup call” of a lifetime.
He watched rabbits subjected to the dreaded “Draize Test” when irritants are dripped into their eyes. He saw the less-than-adequate cage conditions and witnessed the impassive reactions of the “scientists” to animals in obvious pain and distress. He became among the very first in the beauty industry to “Say No to Animal Testing,” so much so that he moved the entire company out of the Netherlands. Now, thankfully, the Dutch authorities have banned animal testing for cosmetics, as have the U.K., the U.S.A. and many other countries.
But still it goes on… Justified by the need for new medicines to address illnesses, scientists say they can only find real understanding of the complex biochemical relationships through experiments on living bodies. So they choose cats for neurological experiments, dogs for respiratory and muscle tests, monkeys of various species for tests of drugs to cure cancers, HIV/AIDs, and other uniquely human diseases. “Lower order” animals like the drosophilia fruit fly and the nematode worm become the subjects of genetic studies. Millions of rats, mice, guinea pigs, fish, reptiles and many other animals are born, live, and die in laboratories at schools and universities and R&D departments of pharmaceutical companies. And that doesn’t count the millions of invertebrates. The list of experiments requiring animals for test purposes goes on and on. How many of those animals are treated with kindness and care?
(I urge you to read the Wikipedia article:
Governments do debate the issues and pass legislation like the British “Cruelty to Animals Act” of 1876 promoted by Charles Darwin, who wrote:
- “You ask about my opinion on vivisection. I quite agree that it is justifiable for real investigations on physiology; but not for mere damnable and detestable curiosity. It is a subject which makes me sick with horror, so I will not say another word about it, else I shall not sleep to-night.”
This is not to say all scientific testing is wrong, rather that cruelty in all its forms and lack of compassion for our fellow creatures on the planet is wrong. There are good zoos, for example, which provide proper habitats and a stimulating life to the animals in their care while educating humans. And on the other hand, there are millions of birds who live in too small, too dirty, too unkind “golden cages..”
Now check on your own pets at home – do they have 24-hour access to water? Food at least once a day? A sheltered and safe place to sleep? Room to run, play and explore? A clean litter box?
And check on your human neighbors – are there homeless people in your neck of the woods? Maybe we can’t solve all the problems of the world, but we can imagine ourselves walking for a little while in their shoes – and do what we can to make their lives better… Here’s to Jacqueline Traide!
By Teviot Fairservis.