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The Cosmetics Regulation ban on animal testing 

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No cosmetic product containing an ingredient that has been tested for the purposes of the EU Cosmetics Regulation (from 11 July 2013) using animals will be allowed for sale in Europe, irrespective of whether or not an alternative test is available.

In 2003, as part of a major change to the European cosmetics laws, a number of bans were introduced concerning the testing of cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients on animals. A number of specific dates as key milestones were set.

The first milestone was September 2004 when a complete ban on animal testing of finished cosmetic products was imposed in Europe. The European cosmetics industry had already moved away from testing cosmetic products on animals some time before this and in the UK animal testing has not taken place on both cosmetic products (since 1997) and their ingredients (since 1998). Voluntary initiatives by the UK cosmetics industry to surrender all licences were followed by announcements from the Home Office that no more licences for cosmetics testing would be issued.

At the same time a “rolling ban” on animal testing for cosmetic ingredients was introduced. This meant that the use of a particular animal test would be banned as soon as a validated and accepted alternative testing method became available. Subsequently, as of 11 March 2009, no animal testing of products or ingredients has been permitted in the EU to meet cosmetics regulations, whether or not an alternative method is available.

Find out what is meant by a “validated and accepted alternative” here.

To ensure that the bans could not be “side-stepped” and would apply equally to imported products and companies outside the EU as well as within it, the testing bans were accompanied by bans on the marketing in the EU of cosmetics where testing for the purposes of the Regulation may have been carried out on animals outside the EU.

The marketing bans followed the same “rolling ban” principle; the marketing of a cosmetic product that had been tested using a particular animal test or which contained an ingredient that has been tested using a particular animal test would be banned if that test took place after the time when a validated alternative was available. In any event, no finished cosmetic product may now be marketed in the EU if it had been tested on animals after 11 March 2009, whether or not alternatives have been developed.

The same deadline of 11 March 2009 was imposed banning the marketing of cosmetic products that contained ingredients that had been tested on animals. However, for certain more complicated tests where the development of alternatives was more challenging the deadline was delayed until 11 March 2013. Now, no cosmetic product containing an ingredient that has been tested for the purposes of the EU Cosmetics Regulation (from 11 July 2013) using animals will be allowed for sale in Europe, irrespective of whether or not an alternative test is available.

On 11 March 2013, the European Commission has posted a press release and related documents on the marketing ban including a video interview with European Commissioner Tonio Borg.


The cosmetics industry sees consumer safety as of paramount importance and is also committed to the search for alternatives to the use of animals. Industry’s efforts are based upon five key principles:


The cosmetics industry has a long-standing commitment to the replacement of animal testing and plays a leading role in the development of alternatives by dedicating funding, time, resources and scientific expertise to this area of research.


The  industry is a global pioneer in research into alternative methods and is proud of its investment and success in developing alternatives to ensure human safety.

Significant scientific advancements have already been made and the cosmetic industry’s efforts have so far led to more than 20 alternative test methods being developed, validated and adopted by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). These are available to all industries to be used in the place of animal tests. Research into alternatives is by no means complete and further efforts are focused on developing alternatives to replace those other tests affected by the 2009 ban and to replace the more complex “long-term” tests affected by the 2013 deadline.

In addition to long-term funding of research into alternatives, member companies of the European cosmetics industry trade association, Cosmetics Europe, dedicated an additional 25 million Euros to a research programme for developing alternative approaches for systemic toxicity testing. The European Commission matched this amount, taking the total sum of this joint investment to 50 million Euros.

This investment has led to the launch, in March 2011, of a programme of research called SEURAT-1. This stands for “Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing”, which is the ultimate long-term target of the initiative. More information about SEURAT-1 is available here.

Find out more about the industry’s achievements and future research plans, here.


The cosmetics industry has been researching alternatives for over 20 years. To co-ordinate industry’s efforts a Steering Committee on Alternatives to Animal Testing (SCAAT) was set up in 1992.

As well as collaboration between cosmetic companies, and substantial funding, alliance between industry sectors is essential to the effective development of alternatives. In 2005, the European Partnership for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EPAA) was launched to promote collaboration between the European Commission and major companies from several industry sectors. The cosmetics industry plays a leading role in the EPAA.

The cosmetics industry is not the only industry sector to benefit from the development of alternatives. Scientists from other industry sectors such as the pharmaceutical, chemical and food industries are all legally obliged to use alternative methods where they exist.

To promote the use of non-animal alternatives internationally, the cosmetics industry also works closely with its partners in other world markets such as the United States, Canada and Japan and has hosted visits by the Chinese authority SFDA.

Find out more about the cosmetics industry’s collaborating partners here.


The cosmetics industry has been working towards the elimination of animal testing for cosmetics for a long time and is co-operating fully in the successful implementation of the EU law towards a common-goal of ensuring safety without teting on animals.

The 2013 milestone, although passed, still poses major scientific challenges and the industry will continue to work closely with its key partners to address these.


The cosmetics industry is dedicated to the challenge of taking part in the huge scientific challenge of developing alternative methods and is confident that, in time, research efforts will allow for continued innovation and safety assurance of cosmetic products, without the need for animal testing.

Where can I find out more?


For more information about replacing animals in experimental research visit the FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) website.

Read “Working together to replace animal testing” published by Cosmetics Europe, the European cosmetic trade association in 2009.

Visit the Cosmetics Europe website for more information on the marketing ban and on alternatives.