Despite the Ban, Animal Tests for Cosmetics Are STILL Taking Place in the EU
Consumers believing that animal testing for cosmetics had ended and that they could buy beauty products with a clear conscience have been duped. Figures published in August 2021 by the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing and other industry experts show that what PETA has been saying for years is true: thousands of animals are still being used to test cosmetics ingredients because the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is undermining the cosmetics testing ban.
The use of animals for cosmetics testing is banned across Europe. Yet animals are still being poisoned and killed in tests for cosmetics ingredients.
In 2013, champagne corks popped as the bans on animal testing for cosmetics ingredients and on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics came into full force. We envisioned that thousands of animals would no longer be made to suffer for another mascara, lipstick, or eye shadow. But just one year later, we revealed that cosmetics ingredients were still being tested on animals in the EU because of an erroneous interpretation of the provisions laid out in the laws governing cosmetics and chemicals.
Since then, we’ve been resolute in our efforts to stop these abhorrent tests. Here’s what we’ve done so far and what you can do to help.
2013: EU Cosmetics Testing and Marketing Bans Are Fully Implemented
The EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics products and their ingredients (the EU Cosmetics Regulation) came into full force, as did a ban on EU sales of such goods that have been tested on animals. This should have meant that consumers could be confident that any new cosmetics products or ingredients developed after 11 March 2013 had not been tested on animals.
2014: Cosmetics Testing Sneaks in Through the Back Door
Under the guise of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) issued a joint statement announcing that they’re still insisting on animal testing for chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics for which there’s a possibility of workforce exposure during manufacturing processes.
For ingredients that are used in cosmetics as well as other types of products, tests on animals are permitted regardless of any workforce exposure risk, suggesting that the REACH regulation overrides the EU Cosmetics Regulation.
In our opinion, this is a blatant violation of both REACH and the EU Cosmetics Regulation.
2015: PETA Kicks Off the New Year With a Cosmetics Campaign
We asked for your help, and thousands of you wrote to ECHA and the European Commission to urge them not to allow cosmetics ingredients to be tested on animals under any circumstances. The Commission responded with a statement confirming that its position hadn’t changed. Not good enough!
2016: PETA Files a Complaint With the European Ombudsman
Following a series of communications between PETA, the European Commission, and ECHA, we took our concerns to the European Ombudsman.
Regrettably, the Ombudsman sidestepped the issue and didn’t direct ECHA and the Commission to amend their position. However, in reserving judgment on the accuracy of their joint statement, she noted that although ECHA and the Commission had issued a guidance document, that didn’t necessarily mean that the guidance was correct.
2017: PETA Scientists Help Stop a Cruel Cosmetics Test
Working through the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd., PETA scientists successfully supported a company in its appeal against an ECHA demand to test a cosmetics ingredient on animals. The test would have involved force-feeding high concentrations of a cosmetics ingredient to pregnant rats or rabbits before dissecting them and their unborn offspring. This victory spared hundreds of animals’ lives.
2018: European Parliament Committee Hears PETA’s Concerns About REACH
Over 100,000 people signed an open letter coordinated by PETA and our European affiliates demanding that the EU use the formal evaluation of REACH to end cruel experiments on animals and accept cutting-edge, non-animal research methods.
After PETA submitted the letter to the European Parliament, our science policy adviser, Dr Julia Baines, was invited to address the European Parliament Committee on Petitions. She pointed out to MEPs that cosmetics ingredients continue to be tested on animals and urged them to end this shameful practice. The committee agreed to take further action.
2019: Tests Are Still Being Requested, and We’re Heading Back to the European Parliament
Throughout this period, regulatory authorities have continued to require tests on animals. Fortunately, companies are appealing against having to conduct these tests, and the PETA International Science Consortium has been approved as an official intervener in each case.
Dr Baines addressed the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals to urge MEPs to hold the European Commission and ECHA accountable for tearing the ban on animal testing for cosmetics to pieces.
2020: Animal Testing Appeal Launched in European Court
When cosmetics ingredients manufacturer Symrise AG contested the ECHA’s demand that two ingredients be tested on 5,500 animals, the PETA International Science Consortium intervened in the case before the ECHA Board of Appeal. Now, Symrise has taken the decision to the European Court of Justice, and the Science Consortium has once again been accepted as an intervener in this precedent-setting case.
We’ve also joined forces with over 450 companies, brands, and animal protection organisations and sent an open letter urging the European Parliament, European Commission, and European Council to uphold the animal testing and marketing bans.
2021: Thousands of Animals Used in Tests Despite the Bans
More than 3,200 substances used in cosmetics and other products and over 400 substances used only for cosmetics purposes have been registered under the EU’s REACH regulations, which requires tests on animals on an industrial scale, according to a new report.
Thousands of animals have been used in 104 new tests of ingredients exclusively used in cosmetics – even after the full implementation of the cosmetics testing and marketing bans.
These numbers prove what PETA has been saying for years: the EU’s animal testing ban is being systematically violated.
With many new tests on animals yet to be conducted, PETA and other animal protection organisations have urged the European Commission to suspend all existing animal testing requirements for cosmetics ingredients.
What You Can Do for Animals Used in Cosmetics Tests
Please help us demonstrate the power of public opposition to cosmetics testing: urge the European Commission and ECHA to uphold the law by never allowing cosmetics ingredient tests on animals, no matter the circumstances.