Testing cosmetics on live animals for safety has been abandoned by thousands of companies for more than a decade, yet using animals to test the safety of cosmetics for humans continues in the U.S. and throughout the world. But great strides have been made since the European Union (EU) banned the use of such tests and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in 2009.
Laws prohibiting testing cosmetics on animals
The EU Cosmetics Directive provided the regulatory framework for the phasing out of animal testing for cosmetics purposes. It established a prohibition on testing finished cosmetic products (2004) and cosmetic ingredients on animals (2009), and an EU prohibition on marketing finished cosmetic products and ingredients for most human health effects (2009). The final phase of the marketing ban applies to products that use repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics testing, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests (2013). The same provisions are contained in the Cosmetics Regulation, which replaces the Cosmetics Directive as of 11 July 2013.
The European Union consists of 28 member countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
In 2010, Israel banned the sale of animal-tested products. The majority of the provisions took effect on January 1, 2013, though limited imports of some products may be allowed until 2015. According to the Knesset Caucus for Animal Rights, an Israeli animal rights group, products now on the shelves at stores can still be sold, but any new stock must be certified as free from animal testing.
In 2013, Norway joined the EU in its ban on animal testing for cosmetics, including a ban on importing and selling cosmetics that were tested on animals.
On October 13, 2014, India adopted Rule 135-B, which prohibits the import of cosmetics tested on animals. The ban on importing animal-tested cosmetics comes after India recently adopted an internal ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals. With this new rule, India became the first Asian country to adopt cruelty-free practices for cosmetics. The ban took effect on November 13, 2014.
In January 2015, South Korea announced that it will implement a Five Year Plan for Animal Welfare that includes a ban on animal testing for cosmetics. In its announcement, South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said that the ban will be phased in following the structure established by the European Union, with the first step being a ban on animal testing on final products. The ban will then expand to include ingredients used to manufacture the final products. The final phase will be a ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. South Korea is the second country in Asia, after India, to implement a cosmetic animal testing ban, while China and others move in that direction.
In March 2015, New Zealand finally adopted its proposed ban on animal testing for cosmetics, though the ban does not extend to the sale of cosmetics that were tested outside the country.
We look forward to progress on this issue in the U.S. during the current legislative session.
Regional laws prohibiting testing cosmetics on animals
In the U.S., two states have passed a ban on testing cosmetics on animals, although this does not include the marketing of cosmetics that are tested on animals elsewhere:
California CAL. CIV. CODE § 1834.9 (2002)
New Jersey N.J. STAT. ANN. § 4:22-59 (2007)
The State of Sao Paolo, Brazil, instituted a ban on animal testing for cosmetics early in 2014.
Proposed efforts to adopt laws/policies to prohibit testing cosmetics on animals
In the U.S., a federal cosmetic testing ban was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2014, but the Humane Cosmetics Act, HR 4148, failed to pass. The introduction of new legislation is expected in 2015.
In Brazil, a nationwide ban on animal testing of cosmetics, PL 6602/2013, passed the Chamber of Deputies, but failed to pass the Senate.
In Australia, Green Party Senator Lee Rhiannon introduced a bill in 2014 to ban all animal testing on cosmetics, including imports from countries that test on animals. This legislation did not pass.