The New EU Cosmetics Testing Ban – Your Questions Answered

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You’ve probably heard the good news – as of 11 March 2013, cosmetics tested on animals can no longer be sold in Europe, even if the testing happened outside the EU. This is a landmark victory in the campaign against cruel experiments on animals. But what does it actually mean for consumers who want to make sure that the shampoo, make-up or moisturiser they’re buying wasn’t tested on animals and that their money isn’t going to companies that profit from cruelty?

Our science adviser, Dr Gilly Stoddart, answers some of your questions:

What does the ban mean for animals?

Testing cosmetics products and their ingredients on animals has been banned in Europe since 2009. However, a loophole meant that companies could still profit from testing cosmetics outside Europe and then selling them on European shelves. On 11 March, that will change, and cosmetics tested on animals anywhere in the world will no longer be sold in Europe. This will save thousands of animals around the world from frightening and painful tests in the name of vanity. If cosmetics companies want to reach the 500 million consumers in Europe, they will no longer be able to subject animals such as rabbits, rats and mice to tests such as force-feeding, dripping chemicals into rabbits’ eyes and rubbing substances onto animals’ abraided skin.

Can I now buy products from any company without supporting animal testing?

The sales ban means that all new cosmetics products sold in Europe will no longer be tested on animals, nor will they contain ingredients that were tested on animals, after the 11 March deadline. You, can, therefore, buy any product in Europe, safe in the knowledge that no new animal testing has been performed for that product and that no animals will suffer and die in a laboratory for it.

What kind of humane testing methods will now be used for cosmetics?

Thanks to the ban, companies have created and continue to pioneer modern, humane non-animal testing techniques, which are more effective, often cheaper and the best way to protect both animals and people. These include using human cells and tissues and high-speed computer models – cutting-edge techniques that weren’t available when cosmetics tests on animals started in the 1920s. PETA US has actually donated funds to help develop and validate such methods.

So have cosmetics companies stopped animal testing altogether? What about outside the European Union?

Here, the picture is a little more complex. Multinational companies may continue to conduct tests on animals outside Europe for sale in other markets such as China. However, with Europe sending such a powerful message that testing cosmetics on animals is on the way out, we’re hopeful that the situation will begin to improve around the world, especially given the development of cheaper and more effective humane testing methods. Israel, for example has already banned the testing of cosmetics on animals, PETA India is working hard to persuade its government to follow suit and thanks to guidance from PETA US-funded scientists, Chinese officials are now in the final stages of approving the country’s first non-animal testing method for cosmetics ingredients.

How can I guarantee that I’m not giving my money to a company that profits from cruelty in other countries?

Keep looking for the cruelty-free logo, the leaping bunny, a sign that a company has made a promise never, ever to test on animals.

Comments

  • nicola macdonald commented on March 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Dear sir/madam
    Why can i still see Revlon on the shelves ,they experiment on animals?

    • Katie Carlile commented on March 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      It’s not March 11th yet :/

    • Dan commented on March 10, 2013 at 11:16 am

      “The sales ban means that all new cosmetics products sold in Europe will no longer be tested on animals…”

      The key word there is “new.” Still look our for approved cruelty free products.

  • Carol Gilbert commented on March 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    The new ruling only applies to new cosmetics. Older ones which have been already tested on animals (without leaping bunny logo) will still be on the shelves. It just means that there will be no new testing on animals (expect by companies who sell in China).

  • Michaela Biwen commented on March 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    This is fabulous!!! But I guess boots will still be off the menu tho?

  • Mica commented on March 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    So all new products will have the leaping bunny logo,although it all happens on the 11th will many be on the shelves to buy?

    • Dan commented on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

      No, they wont all have the logo. Companies can still test on products not being sold in EU (like China), so they will not be approved.

  • Alice-Ann commented on March 9, 2013 at 12:30 am

    I’ve never been happier.

  • Charlotte Longmuir commented on March 9, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I have 3 questions –

    1. I am a bit confused by the ‘new’ products thing. So does this mean that L’Oreal will still be able to sell all of their products even though they have been tested on animals?

    2. Can I walk into any shop and buy any product knowing that company I am buying from is cruelty free? So I can now start buying Body Shop products again because any profit L’Oreal makes cannot be put towards animal testing?

    3. How will this work for companies like Dove who are owned by Unilever who do test on animals – and not just cosmetics but also house hold products?

    • Dan commented on March 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

      1. Yes
      2. No
      3. They won’t be able to test new products to be sold in the EU. They may still test other products for different markets.

      I hope that helps.

  • Ana (Portugal) commented on March 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    What an amasing news!!! I’m wonderfully shocked and I’m crying of hapiness.
    And it’s amazing that I have to read news of my home in a foreign website. THANK YOU PETA so very much for sharing this astonishing, fantastic, loving news with the worl.
    All the love and blessings fou you PETA and all the faces and hearts behind you, for your voice, wonderful work and resilience towards our fellow travelers animals. : )

  • Helen commented on March 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    What is the position with Avon Cosmetics who I heard recently had started testing on animals in order to comply with requirements in China?

  • Mica commented on March 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Buy Ecover cleaning products for the house washing/up and for washing machine. I am confused too about this whole thing. Love buying from the body shop and have done for years, but the company is owned by L’oreal and I dislike that, dont like it one bit.It is not being honest with the customer dont know what to think. This is all making me tired looking/finding/searching for products that are not tested on animals, so if I cant buy the right soap do I not wash? As for L’oreal saying they need another 10 years before agreeing to not test I may as well put a gun to my head.The world is crazy.Dont know how scientists can look a beagle in the eye when they are making the animal suffer,go home to their family as if nothing happened, “Oh just a days work”. disgusting and barbaric.

    • Tina commented on March 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

      Buy Superdrug or Co-Op products, they all have the leaping bunny logo. I got sick of always checking labels, so now I just stick to them, it’s much easier.

  • paula adams commented on March 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I am still confused..sorry. If only products that are not animals tested can be sold in the uk does that mean companies like L’oreal won’t be able to sell cosmetic in england. I just need to get this clear in my head.

    • Dan commented on March 11, 2013 at 9:57 am

      It will only apply to new products. Companies can still test other products elsewhere. You’re right to be confused and concerned. This news is a great step, but still look our for approved cruelty free products to be sure.

  • paula commented on March 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks Dan, I thought it won’t be as clear cut as it is advertised. I was always concerned about the word NEW. So really the same companies are still going to selling old products that they can test on. A great step as you have said, but I think people will be fooled in to buying tested stuff. Thanks again

  • Helen commented on March 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    To be completely cruelty free you should be buying vegan cosmetics, its the only way to get round supporting cruelty.

    So say lloreal invents a hideous new thing tomorrow. They cant sell it in both eu and china can they?

  • Lesley Robinson commented on March 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Are Body Shop products honestly still not tested on animals despite being bought out by horribel L’Oreal?

  • Linda Jackson commented on March 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Still cannot understand this, why can’t there be some sort of indication printed on all products made after 11th March saying ‘this product has not been tested on animals as of from 11th March 2013′. We are still really back the square one where the only companies we can really trust are the smaller ethical ones who bother to print details of there policies on their labels. We still have to be observant with what we buy, so no change there. Body Shop don’t test but L’Oreal gets the profits from them! That has always sounded crazy to me that Anita Roddick sold out to L’Oreal and The Body Shop makes profits for L’Oreal who do animal tests.

  • Sam Pratten commented on March 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Are shampoos and shower gels classed as ‘cosmetics’?

  • Janet Berry commented on March 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    It doesnt seem to be as cut and dried as the announcement first appears. Either that or I am being a bit thick. So i I walk into Boots and pick up some No. 7 make up, am I assured that it hasnt been tested on animals?

  • megan commented on March 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    is the UK implementing this law?

  • Pat commented on March 12, 2013 at 11:33 am

    This is a topic that Dr. Andrew Knight has campaigned on for years and even wrote a book about it, “The Cost and Benefits of Animal Experiments”.
    Here is an interview with Dr. Knight about how we should not test on animals.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVxUM1x2qwA

  • Pamela commented on March 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Glad I’m not the only one confused. So, are companies going to have to choose between Europe and China now? For example, Gucci (known to test on animals) brings out a new perfume, if they want to sell it in Europe, they can’t test, if they want to sell it in China, they have to test. So a choice has to be made? Or could they, theoretically make the same perfume, just a slight variation in name and composition, therefore officially different products and sell it in both markets?

    • Megan commented on June 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      No, from what I can gather the ban doesn’t apply to companies selling in both China and Europe.

    • Dan commented on June 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Megan and Pamela,

      The ban does apply to companies selling to both! If they want to sell products in China and use animal testing, they can not sell those products or ingredients in Europe.

  • Annabelle Randles commented on March 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Hi –

    I am guessing the regulation only applies to cosmetics. What about cleaning products . Are there any change in regulations planned?

  • Mica commented on March 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    If you go on the website ‘Nottested.co.uk’ it gives you all the companies that test and dont test on animals. From cosmetics to household cleaning products. Very informative.

  • Tehne commented on March 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I have a question…I live in South Africa, so I would like to know…if I buy products here that are made in Europe does that mean I can rest assured that they have not been tested on animals?

  • Emma commented on March 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I too am confused by this, so if say L’Oreal bring out a new foundation will it no longer be sold in Europe unless they show it hasn’t used animal testing or will companies like L’Oreal get out of this new law as they sold products in Europe prior to it? I’m really confused.

  • barbara walker commented on April 2, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Well done PETA and all who have campaigned against animal testing. It sounds like this new law in Europe is a big step in the right direction. Other countries like China and India are likely to follow this example when they realise how much money that they will save. More importantly they will begin to show more compassion towards people and animals. Wow.It’s made my day to learn of this news.

  • Martina Trattler-Robson commented on April 3, 2013 at 8:26 am

    it is a step forward in the right direction, however I’m also confused how i.e, L’Oreal can sell the same cosmetic in i.e. UK and China. if it is sold in China we know that animal testing is involved – the ingredients are the same for the product in both countries. if this applies I would say we haven’t moved on really? can someone please advise and help me to understand?

    • Dan commented on June 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Matina,
      By my understanding, if they want to sell products in China and use animal testing, they can not sell those products or ingredients in Europe.

  • Sarah commented on April 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    The March 11th ban is fantastic news however I think it’s important that people do not become relaxed over the issue of animal testing. Big companies are still selling their products outside of the EU and are STILL subjecting innocent creatures to these brutal tests.
    I believe that one of the best things we can do to help the situation is not only to continue to support companies that have said no to testing out of their own free will, but also to SPREAD THE WORD. So many people are ignorant about the issue of animal testing and there are probably many who would choose cruelty free products if they knew about the suffering that animals go through. There are those who are not aware that animals are or have ever been tested on! Its our responsibility as knowledgeable people to pass that knowledge on to those who are unaware and persevere in the fight for animal rights. A huge congratulations to all those who supported the ban and made it happen.

  • Sarah commented on April 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Martina,

    I think the problem here is that these companies like Loreal will bring out a new product that they do not test on animals in order to sell it in the EU but will still test the same product on animals outside of the EU with the intention of selling it in countries like China which require companies to test on animals in order to sell their products there. Even though the product sold in both China and the EU may be identical, the version sold in the EU will not have been tested on animals and the version sold in China will have! It’s ridiculous!

    It is a very confusion issue that is made worse by the fact that it is not an overly publicized one and most people either don’t understand or don’t wish to!

    I say support ethical, cruelty free companies by buying only their products regardless of the ban and Loreal can shove their new products where the sun don’t shine!

  • Maria commented on June 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I’m also confused, sorry! The definition of ‘new product’…does this mean, for example, that Neutrogena can continue to test their blah-blah face wash on animals and sell it, now and forever, in Europe, but if they create a new such-and-such face wash, they can’t test it on animals? Because that sounds like all these companies can just keep testing on animals and selling their stuff, and all that’s changed is consumer attitudes – people will think these products are suddenly ethical, when they’re not.

  • Lindsey commented on July 3, 2013 at 6:03 am

    I am a huge fan of animal rights, and I’m shocked that I did not find out about this amazing news until today!!!! How exciting and wonderful! I have some questions, though. I live in the US, but since Chanel is a makeup line based in Europe, does that mean the products in the US stores will be abiding by this law? I know in Europe nothing new can.be tested on animals, but would a perfume made years ago now be made without the use of animal testing? And in US stores? Sorry, I just want to make sure, so I don’t contribute to any further animal testing :) thank you!

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  • Sue commented on January 13, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Long story short, can I now buy Clarins in London?

  • Maiher commented on August 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Does the term “cosmetics” extend to fragrances/perfumes as well?

    • Dan commented on August 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Maiher,

      Short answer: Yes. :)
      Long answer: A cosmetic product is any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, correcting body odours, protecting them, or keeping them in good condition.

      • breda commented on June 11, 2015 at 4:08 pm

        ive heard that there is a loophole now that means its not actually effective. is this true? i cant remember the details

  • Maiher commented on August 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Fab news! So for example, I’ve just found out Gucci tests on animals, so I was going to bin my favourite perfume – but since the new law is in force I can now buy this knowing no animals will be harmed? I appreciate that there may have been testing in it’s development prior to the law – but I’m not adding to the problem? I’ve already ditched my Aussie shampoo for Paul Mitchell and only buy Liz Earle/Benefit makeup. We also only buy Ecover home products – small steps! :-)

  • Mary commented on March 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    PETA thank you so much for all you have done to make this happen…without you the world would be a much crueller, more horrible place. Please continue the campaign to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals all over the world.

    This is a great victory but remember there are still MILLIONS of animals suffering horribly and dying in laboratories for completely unnecessary reasons…let’s not forget about them for one second.The campaign to stop all experiments done on animals for whatever reason must not cease until all lab animals are freed.

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