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Once the province of well-heeled celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and Madonna, mink-fur eyelash extensions are now sweeping through both sides of the Atlantic, according to the Daily Mail. Until recently, a single rollout could cost upwards of $7,000. Now that a single application averages at $500, mink eyelashes are becoming accessible to a growing number of disposable incomes. Their absurdity aside, the hairy accessories are also being touted as cruelty-free. “They don’t kill the animals,” Janice Vance of Designer Lashes London, which offers 100 percent Siberian mink eyelashes, tells the gossip rag. “They brush the minks and then collect the fur by hand.”

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As quaint as descriptions of “gentle brushing” are, they’re also disingenuous at best. Minks are notoriously aggressive and territorial, making any kind of catch-and-release scheme highly unlikely. Also, what happens after they’ve served their purpose?

Minks are notoriously aggressive and territorial, making any kind of “catch and release” scheme highly unlikely.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is equally dubious of the lashes’ so-called “animal-friendly” pedigree. “Companies that sell mink eyelashes claim to obtain the fur by brushing live minks, but those minks still suffer on mink farms and ultimately will be killed for their fur,” a spokeswoman tells Ecouterre. “We encourage consumers to choose alternatives to any materials that are derived from animals, ensuring that they are not contributing to an industry that causes suffering.”

The mink is the most farmed of all fur-bearing animals. Raised to be slaughtered, they’re faced with gruesome conditions that include self-mutilation, cannibalism, anal electrocution, and festering wounds. “There is a misconception that ranch raised fur is “humane,” says Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit based in Chicago. “Unfortunately, there is nothing humane about depriving these animals from their behavioral and physiological needs. Fur-farming is nothing more than institutionalized torture.”

[Via Daily Mail]