Cosmetics and Animal Testing: A Historic Victory
Testing cosmetics on animals was banned in Europe in 2009, but until recently, companies were still able to profit from the sale of animal-tested products if the tests were conducted elsewhere. Now all that has changed. As of 11 March 2013, cosmetics tested on animals can no longer be sold in Europe, even if the testing was done outside Europe – a fantastic step forward!
In 2003, the EU finally responded to the long-standing public campaign against cosmetics tested on animals by introducing a ban on animal testing for cosmetics and toiletries inside the EU – not just for finished products but, critically, for their ingredients, too. That ban was introduced in stages and became complete in 2009. As a result, no testing on animals for cosmetics now takes place anywhere in the EU.
Recognising that companies may simply conduct the tests outside the EU, however, the 2003 legislation also included a two-stage ban on the sale of cosmetics and toiletries containing ingredients that have been tested on animals. The first stage went into effect in 2009. It banned the sale of cosmetics and toiletries whose ingredients had gone through "acute" animal tests, such as lethal poisoning studies (which determine how much of a chemical will kill animals) and eye and skin irritation tests. The second stage came into effect on 11 March 2013, when the remaining tests were banned.
A Historic Victory
The sales ban is a spectacular achievement. It declares that testing cosmetics on animals is wrong and – further – that profiting from that testing is wrong. Executives from cosmetics companies worldwide now know that if they want to sell to the EU's 500 million consumers, they need to take a hard look at their policies. The result has been a boom in investment in non-animal testing methods. Major companies have turned their backs completely on animal testing and ingredients that were tested on animals, and a number of animal tests have been completely replaced with superior, cheaper and more effective non-animal methods.
The implementation of the full sales ban in March was fantastic news, but in some ways, the global market makes the situation tricky, not only for companies but also for consumers. Although companies can't sell animal-tested cosmetics in Europe, that doesn't mean they can't continue to test cosmetics on animals outside Europe and continue to sell them in other markets. Therefore companies can still profit from cruelty to animals, just not in Europe. This is particularly important because many large emerging markets, such as China, are demanding that cosmetics be tested on animals. The only way to be completely sure you aren't indirectly supporting animal tests is to continue to purchase products from companies that don't do any animal testing. Check out our article about the easy way to go cruelty-free for more information.