Researchers have discovered that coconut soap causes skin irritation in rabbits. During a comparison of human and animal test data for a selection of household and industrial products, Proctor and Gamble scientists found that while coconut soap had a "negligible" effect on the skin of volunteers, it produced "moderate" irritation in rabbits.(1) Pine oil cleaner also produced “moderate” irritation in rabbits (and guinea pigs) but only a slight effect on human skin.
Other substances which produced insignificant effects on human skin but irritation in animals included high and low carbonate detergents, phosphate detergents, enzyme detergent, sodium carbonate and even lemon juice! Overall, only 6 of 24 products tested had the same effects in people, rabbits and guinea pigs. The report concluded that "Neither the rabbit nor the guinea pig provides an accurate model for human skin. The skin responses of these animals differ in both degree and in kind from those found in human skin."(1)
Similar conclusions have been reached for cosmetic ingredients. Scientists at the Warner Lambert Research Institute in New Jersey note that "...animal skin is entirely different from human skin and that there may be no correlation between the mildness of a raw material on a rabbit's back and its safety during use on a human face." They describe how the cosmetic ingredient isopropyl myristate is considered safe for use on the human body but causes irritation to rabbits. (2)
I) G.A.Nixon et al, Toxicology & Applied Pharmacology, 1975, vol.31, 481-490.
2) M.M. Rieger & G.W.Battista, Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, 1964, vol.15, 161-172.
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