In this section:
- Animal testing of cosmetic products is banned in the UK and Europe
- Selling cosmetic products tested on animals is banned in the UK and Europe
- Selling cosmetic products containing ingredients tested on animals is banned in the UK and Europe
- The UK's exit from the European Union has not changed the animal testing ban
- 'Not tested on animals' claims
- The cosmetics industry is contributing to efforts for a global ban
- Animal testing and China
- The development of new tests is a long and challenging process
Cosmetic products sold in the UK and Europe are not tested on animals. This is true whether or not the product makes an 'animal friendly' claim.
Animal testing of cosmetic products is banned in the UK and Europe
Fact - No cosmetic product may be tested on animals anywhere in the UK or EU.
The ban on animal testing of cosmetic products in the UK and EU came into effect in September 2004. It has been illegal to test cosmetic product on animals in Europe since that time.
In the UK, testing of cosmetic products was banned in 1997 after a voluntary initiative by industry which led to all licences for testing cosmetic products to be withdrawn.
Animal testing of cosmetic ingredients is banned in the UK and Europe
Fact - No ingredients used in cosmetics may be tested for that reason anywhere in the UK or EU.
The ban on animal testing of cosmetic ingredients in the UK and EU came into effect in March 2009. It has been illegal to test cosmetic ingredients for that purpose on animals in Europe since that time.
However, many cosmetic ingredients are also used by other industries some of which still require animal testing. Therefore, most if not all cosmetics contain one or more ingredients tested on animals by someone at some time.
Selling cosmetic products tested on animals is banned in the UK and Europe
However, some countries still require animal testing of cosmetics under their own laws. Such products may still be sold in the UK and Europe. Companies, individually and through Cosmetics Europe, along with the European Commission are working with those countries to explain why animal testing of such products in not necessary to ensure safety.
Selling cosmetic products containing ingredients tested on animals is banned in the UK and Europe
However, many cosmetic ingredients are used by many other industries and may be tested on animals to comply with the laws of those countries. Therefore, most if not all cosmetics contain one or more ingredients tested on animals by someone at some time.
The UK's exit from the EU has not changed the animal testing ban
Fact - Cosmetics are still strictly regulated in the UK now that we have left the EU, and this includes keeping the animal testing ban.
The UK's decision to leave the EU did not alter the strict safety laws that govern our cosmetic products, including the current ban on animal testing.
Consumers may have concerns about the ban on animal testing, but we would like to stress that the UK cosmetics industry voluntarily abandoned animal testing seven years ahead of the EU-wide ban, so you can be assured this has not changed.
'Not tested on animals' claims
Fact - All cosmetics sold in the UK and Europe could make the same claim now.
The common criteria for cosmetic claims, which are now part of UK and European cosmetics law, prohibit claims that are no more than claiming compliance with legal requirements. Since the ban on animal testing applies equally to all cosmetic products on the UK and EU markets, it would appear that claims relating to avoidance of animal testing would not be permitted, as it could imply that products not making the claim are tested on animals, which is not true. That law covers claims in the form of text, illustrations, logos or pictorial forms and similar depictions.
However, explicit statements relating to a company's philosophy regarding animal testing ought to remain acceptable under the Common Criteria.
The cosmetics industry is contributing to efforts for a global ban
Fact - The UK and European cosmetics industry has invested more than €70 million and has been working for over 25 years to develop alternative methodologies to animal testing and promote the adoption of these methods globally.
The safety of products placed on the market is the highest priority of the cosmetics industry. Thanks to the enormous contribution and investment that the cosmetics industry has made globally towards Alternatives to Animal Testing, the cosmetics industry is a leader in this field. Further information about the development of alternative methodologies may be found at Cosmetics Europe's website.
The cosmetics industry works with organisations including NGOs, academics, authorities and regulators globally to develop and promote new methods internationally to work towards an end to animal testing in all sectors. Regulatory acceptance of alternative methods is a key priority in order to promote the use of these methods globally.
The UK cosmetics industry has worked tirelessly in collaboration with others to develop and validate alternative methods and promote their adoption globally. For example, scientific exchanges, workshops and demonstrations have been conducted with Authorities in China regarding how the system works in the EU. Training workshops and similar events have been held to demonstrate the practical application of many in vitro alternative testing methods. China has invested heavily in new laboratories and in training scientists and technicians in these techniques.
Animal testing and China
The cosmetics industry strongly welcomed the removal of the mandatory animal testing requirements for general cosmetics in China in 2021. This is in line with global initiatives, including the strict bans on animal testing in the UK and EU. This action by the Chinese authorities follows other recent initiatives which allow certain cosmetic products to be placed on the Chinese market without the need for animal testing.
However, the Chinese Government still requires animal testing for certain specific categories of cosmetic products. It is at the discretion of the Chinese authorities to decide how to protect Chinese consumers. However the UK and EU cosmetics industries and authorities remain committed to continue working with the Chinese authorities on alternative, non-animal test methods to confirm the safety of cosmetic products on the Chinese market. This work is ongoing in order to seek the approval from the Chinese authorities on the use of non-animal methods for all cosmetic products in China.
The UK Home Office, the European Commission and the UK and European cosmetics industries have a long history of collaboration with the Chinese regulators and relevant Chinese laboratories to explain the way companies in the UK and EU: confirm the safety of their cosmetic products without the use of animal testing; to showcase the success of the cosmetics industry in replacing animal testing with alternatives; and the progress being made by the wider scientific community as well as exploring the growing confidence in China over their use and adoption. We have already seen great progress as the Chinese authorities have recently added general products manufactured in other countries to the list of products exempted from animal testing requirements, in addition to products which are filled or manufactured locally or sold via e-commerce platforms.
The UK and European cosmetics industry has invested more than €70 million and has been working for over 25 years to develop alternative testing methodologies to ensure human safety. Our industry is fully committed to sharing these learnings far and wide, with the ultimate aim of seeing an end to animal testing in all sectors.
The development of new tests is a long and challenging process
Fact - The major challenge has been developing innovative and reliable test methods which can continue to prove the safety of the ingredients used in cosmetics.
All cosmetic products and their ingredients must be safe and safety needs to be demonstrated through a series of stringent scientific tests covering all sorts of areas from skin and eye irritation to genotoxicity and reproductive toxicity. Nothing is left to chance.
Science today is unable to predict complex, multi-stage toxicological events such as reproductive toxicity, carcinogenicity, chronic toxicity and some specific-organ effects. Research is under way but progress has required a re-think of the basic science of toxicology such that it is now necessary to map each stage of the progress from health to toxicity for any situation, identify the key stages or critical decision points and model for them. It simply was not possible before the widespread introduction of better computing power to manage the complex interactions. The science of toxicology has a long way still to go in understanding these many mechanisms before we can possibly know which steps are critical and how best to model them in vitro. It is exciting, but time-consuming and science cannot be rushed if it is to remain robust and dependable.
However, we do have sufficient tools to properly safety assess the ingredients and cosmetic products that we currently have so that we can all have confidence in the safety of the cosmetic and personal care products that we use and love.