Sascha Camilli discovers that even false eyelashes can be a cause of animal cruelty if they're mink lashes
Today, you’d have a hard time finding someone who’s still willing to wear animal fur. Virtually all the biggest names in fashion – Gucci, Armani, Chanel, Prada, Versace, and many more – have publicly shunned it.
Entire countries are now banning fur production. Moreover, the state of California has gone one step further and even banned the sales and import of it.
The #FurFreeBritain campaign is aiming to do the same in the UK. Furthermore, even the most regal of Brits – Queen Elizabeth II – has stopped buying animal fur.
It’s peculiar, then, that fur keeps showing up in a different area of our lives, far away from our wardrobes.
As many of us put on false eyelashes, we may be unaware of the fact that the word “mink” on the packaging doesn’t stand for a colour or a style.
In fact, it means that the eyelashes are made of real mink fur.
That’s right, mink lashes are the equivalent of wearing fur on your face.
Are mink lashes cruelty-free?
Whether you get yours done at home or at a salon, false lashes are a common staple in many beauty routines. But how often have you seen anyone question what the lashes are made of?
Most people wearing them assume that faux lashes are crafted from synthetics. Many don’t question it at all. But the truth behind mink lashes is, unfortunately, anything but glamorous.
“When it comes to animal suffering, there is no difference between mink eyelashes and a mink coat”, says PETA Director Elisa Allen.
PETA frequently campaign against the use of mink lashes on the grounds of the very same cruelty to animals that we see in the fur trade.
Mink lashes are likely to originate from fur farms – that’s where approximately 85% of the world’s fur comes from.
Mink bred into life on fur farms live in extremely cramped conditions in barren wire cages. They also have no access to grass for bedding or water to swim in. This is particularly problematic because mik are semi-aquatic animals and so naturally need water.
Footage taken undercover at fur farms has revealed severely neglected animals with untreated open wounds. Disturbingly, many were missing limbs from fights with cage-mates.
This video shows the shocking conditions that the animals are kept in on mink farms.
Captivity drives these curious, inquisitive animals mad, causing them to resort to cannibalism and self-mutilation.
Animals on fur farms are commonly killed by gassing, poisoning, or by bludgeoning them to death. This is because they are the most cost-effective methods that keep the pelt intact.
"Mink lashes are the equivalent of wearing fur on your face"
There’s no such thing as ethical mink lashes
Beauty brands selling mink lashes often promote a narrative of “ethical” lashes, obtained by “brushing” the mink.
They don’t often disclose any evidence to support this, and it remains likely that those mink lashes derived from the very same farms that produce the mink coats that faux-lash wearers would never buy.
But even if the brushing claims were true, the process could certainly not be called cruelty-free.
Mink, as wild animals, have no need to be brushed.
They are naturally afraid of humans, and any handling would cause them a high level of stress and probably cause them to lash out.
Few people are also aware of the fact that European mink are a critically endangered species.
In 2015, the species was placed on the extinction red list put together by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Numbers of European mink are falling fast – as a species, they currently take up only 20% of the range they used to occupy.
Once you learn this information, exploiting these animals just to produce vanity items like false eyelashes can hardly be justified.
Pandemic fur ban on mink farms
Mink farming has also come under fire in recent times due to its connection to the coronavirus pandemic. Ever since the first cases of Covid-19 were discovered – and possibly transmitted to workers – on Dutch fur farms, outbreaks of the virus have swept through the industry.
Among other countries, cases have been found in Spain, the US, Sweden, Italy, Greece, and Denmark, where a new, mutated strain of the virus was detected.
Experts warned that this new version might make a forthcoming vaccine less effective.
In the months that followed, temporary or permanent fur-farming bans were introduced in the Netherlands, Poland, France, Denmark, and Sweden. The industry appears to be nosediving – and for good reason.
Progress is happening in the beauty industry too. Amid the criticism towards the fur industry, beauty brands are moving away from mink lashes.
Labels like Sephora, Tarte, Urban Decay, Too Faced, and Velour have all confirmed that all false lashes they sell are made from vegan materials.
As the industries that exploit animals for vanity continue to come under fire, it’s clear that the future of both fashion and beauty is fur-free.
Fur is falling out of fashion, but is faux fur or real better for the environment?