The 11th March 2013 saw the long fought for ban on the sale of cosmetics come into action. This includes all personal-care products. What’s more it does not matter where in the world the testing takes place, no animal-tested cosmetic item or ingredients can be sold within the European Union (EU). Any tests that were being carried out have now been abandoned.

This ban has had a global effect: Even products that are tested and made outside the EU are now prohibited from our shelves. Prior to this ban, animal-testing for cosmetic purposes was illegal within the EU since 2009. However brands that condoned animal-testing still littered EU shelves. This includes brands such as L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, just to name a few.

It has taken over 20 years for this ban to come into action. Not only does this prevent further force-feeding and inhalation of chemicals that eventually leads to bleeding from every orifice.  Also hundreds of thousands of rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats have been rescued from laboratories.


One of the oldest arguments against animal testing was, what can non-human animal’s reaction to chemicals tell us about human reaction? After all our genetic makeup is hugely different. For instance rabbits usually show stronger reactions to chemicals in the eyes than humans do.

Well in the past few years there has been much investment in non-animal testing methods. Apparently, these are more advanced. This begs the question as to why these were not common practice sooner once these methods became available. Surprisingly the answer is not because they are more expensive. The non-animal testing methods are actually less expensive! These non-animal testing methods are thanks to donated human tissue. This offers more protection to humans since this will be a much more reliable indicator of any chemical or adverse effects. Manufactures can test on human tissue grown in the laboratory and use human skin cultures. Not only do these types of tests save animals from enduring a life of pain and suffering, they are also more accurate, produce results in less time and they cost less, which helps to keep consumer costs down too, so we hope. With this ban in action more companies will be forced to use these more ethical methods.

One example of these cutting-edge techniques includes in vitro – test tube – testing methods. Such as 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Photoxicity Assay. This gauges the potential toxicity of chemicals when they come into contact with sunlight, in order to assess sunlight-induced skin irritation.

A similar ban has been implemented in Israel and one is being considered in India. So the work isn’t over yet, as next on the list is a global ban.

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One thought on “Animal-tested cosmetics banned throughout the EU

  1. In follow up to this article, here is an email I received from BUAV today:

    China plan to abolish the requirement for cosmetics to be tested on animals

    Cruelty Free International is delighted that China is proposing to abolish its requirement for animal testing for cosmetics including shampoo, skincare and perfume from June 2014.

    This is a ground-breaking moment – currently China requires all cosmetics to be submitted for animal testing in Government laboratories. This breakthrough has the potential to transform the situation for ethical cosmetic companies that have, up to now, refused to sell in China in order to remain Leaping Bunny certified, which bars cosmetics whose ingredients are tested on animals.

    Cruelty Free International has been at the forefront to encourage Chinese regulators to accept alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics and we are thrilled by this news. We couldn’t have done it without your support, so on behalf of the rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice who will be spared from cruel cosmetics tests – thank you!

    Cruelty Free International’s China Task Force, made up of leading cosmetics companies and with the support of the European Commission and Cosmetics Europe, has made tremendous headway since the exciting and influential new partnership was born.

    Last month the China Task Force, with the support of leading European companies such as The Body Shop, l’Occitane, Montagne Jeunesse and Marks and Spencer, responded to a China Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consultation urging for a route for industry to be able to market cosmetics in China without animal testing.

    Just in the last few weeks, Cruelty Free International’s Director of Policy, Dr Nick Palmer, spoke to the REACH 24H Chemical Regulatory Conference and Asia’s premier cosmetics industry event, the Asia Cosmetics Innovation Summit 2013, both in Shanghai. Dr Palmer pressed the case to open up the Chinese market to companies that do not want their products tested on animals.

    Next stop; the world!

    Over 80% of the world still allows cosmetics to be tested on animals. The suggested change of policy in China shows what can be done when animal protection organisations, industry and the Commission all work together! We expect these changes to help our work in Japan, Korea and other countries which are moving towards an end to the archaic approach of cosmetics testing on animals.

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