File picture of a mink.

KUALA LUMPUR: A few weeks ago, social media went abuzz after an animal activist posted about how her desire to launch her own line of faux eyelashes uncovered a dark secret.

She wrote that a year ago, she had contacted a potential vendor for supply. Upon enquiry, she discovered that “mink lashes” typically sold in stores were made from the hairs of the actual animal.

“I had no clue that mink was not a type of (faux) eyelash. It was a real animal we were talking about, my whole world crashed,” she wrote on her Facebook page JFK Animal Rescue and Shelter.

The activist, who when contacted told Bernama she did not want her name to be published, said that she then did some digging and to her horror, discovered that the minks were exposed to excessive brushing every day of the hour –  while chained with their heads pinned down.

“The lady who I was talking to kept saying they are mink hair but cruelty-free. I asked her how can the lashes be cruelty-free if the hair comes from an actual animal? She told me they don’t kill the minks but brush the hair off and then make lashes with the collected hair,” she further wrote.

Further investigation revealed to her that the minks used to make these faux eyelashes are kept on farms in packed cages while their furs are brushed aggressively for hours, often until the skin bleeds.

She said mink lashes are popular as they are “light, soft and fluffy” and mimics the quality of human lashes. Beauty accessory lovers pay top dollar for the product as in addition to looking natural, mink lashes are also highly reusable.

However, this begs the question: do we feel that our quest for temporary beauty is important enough to warrant such heinous acts of cruelty on innocent animals?

Faux eyelashes have always had a place in beauty regimens but they used to be made mainly from synthetic materials.

The need to make them look even more natural coupled with the fact that some people are allergic to synthetic products has, however, encouraged the cruel practice of farming and culling animals for the sake of beauty.

According to Malaysia Animal Association President Arie Dwi Andika, certain cosmetic products lean towards the usage of animals as improving the quality of their products were more important than the humane treatment of animals.

“Their use of animals (for testing, in products) is to improve customer confidence in their products, but animals should never be sacrificed for the sake of temporary beauty,” he told Bernama.

He said people should be more selective when choosing cosmetics and avoid those that harm animals.

“The Malaysia Animal Association strongly rejects such acts and others where cosmetic products are made using animals.

“It is time for people to choose cosmetics and beauty products that are certified to be animal cruelty-free and are not tested on animals.

Other than minks, animals like rabbits, monkeys, cows, and birds have become victims of the beauty industry.

At the time of writing, the post has reached about six million social media accounts over multiple platforms and has been shared over 131,000 times on Facebook. It left netizens sad, shocked and enraged. Many wrote in to businesses who supplied the products.

Fortunately, their cry for justice were heard far and wide.

Many big beauty brands have decided to remove mink-related products from their inventory, while multinational beauty store chain Sephora banned mink fur lashes from its stores after receiving more than 280,000 emails from concerned shoppers.

In an e-mail to Bernama, Sephora Malaysia’s spokesperson wrote: “Sephora has confirmed that all store keeping units have removed mink fur related items from their shelves.” — Bernama