By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
Tomorrow, March 11, 2023, marks the 10-year anniversary of a historic paradigm shift away from cosmetics animal testing. When the European Union and Israel became the world’s first markets to ban animal tests for cosmetics such as makeup, shampoo and cologne, the change jump-started our global campaign to extend this precedent. It’s incredible to see all that we’ve accomplished since then: Norway, India, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland, Guatemala, Australia and Mexico have all enacted national measures against cosmetics animal testing. Through sustained advocacy efforts made possible by our multinational presence, we’ve secured cosmetics animal testing and sales bans on nearly every continent. This progress not only spares animals from needless suffering but puts pressure on other nations to follow suit or risk losing the ability to export and sell their cosmetics to key markets. The number of country-level cosmetics animal testing sales bans or restrictions has risen from 28 to 43, and that’s not even counting 10 state-level bans in the U.S. and 13 more in Brazil.
And that’s just the legislative progress: On the corporate side, we’ve seen just as much enthusiasm for using non-animal testing methods that are more relevant to human safety than the painful chemical tests carried out on guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and rats. Many of the top beauty brands in the world—Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Avon, L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson—have joined us, our longtime partner Lush Cosmetics and our local NGO partners to outlaw cosmetics testing on animals in many of the world’s most influential economies.
You have helped to make this more humane world a reality; consumer demand has spurred a cruelty-free products sector now valued in the billions. And even more people became active on this issue when Save Ralph, our short film that featured rabbit Ralph’s life as a laboratory “tester,” inspired nearly 800 million #SaveRalph posts and homages on TikTok, driving more than 5 million people to sign one of our petitions, and prompting Mexico to become the first country in North America to pass a ban and led to renewed campaign momentum in other countries.
As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the EU and Israel bans, we’re looking forward to the fights ahead. Here’s where we’re working and how you can help:
- In the U.S., we continue to push for the passage of the bipartisan Humane Cosmetics Act, which would prohibit the production and sale of animal-tested cosmetics. Last year, the bill garnered immense support, with 20 senators and 188 representatives co-sponsoring the legislation. The bill is also endorsed by the Personal Care Products Council, as well as hundreds of companies, including Whole Foods Market. We expect the measure to be reintroduced soon, and we’re determined to work toward its passage in the 118th Congress. You can urge your legislator to support an end to cosmetics testing on animals. In the meantime, we are active on the state level, pressing for additional laws to prohibit the sale of cosmetics newly tested on animals.
- In Canada, bills backed by Humane Society International/Canada and our partners have fallen just shy of becoming law. In 2021, we helped secure an election pledge by the country’s ruling party to introduce legislation to end cosmetic testing on animals by 2023, and our team is working closely with the Canadian industry and other stakeholders to hold the government to its commitment. You can sign our petition to urge the Canadian government to include cosmetics animal testing ban language in its 2023 budget bill.
- In Brazil earlier this month, we celebrated the introduction of a regulation that would restrict some animal testing for cosmetic purposes countrywide. The measure builds on the state-level testing bans we have previously secured there and provides further incentive for lawmakers to enact a federal law that HSI, our partners and the Brazilian industry association have been championing. (You can sign our petition to encourage Brazilian lawmakers to take action.)
- In Chile, a federal bill backed by HSI, our NGO partner and the national industry association is only one step away from becoming law. Please sign our petition to help us push it across the finish line.
- Even in the EU, the landmark 10-year-old ban on animal testing in the cosmetics regulation faces challenges from regulators who are demanding new animal testing for cosmetic ingredients under the EU’s chemicals regulation. This is unacceptable, and our team is spearheading a call for essential revisions to the law in order to advance the goal of safety innovation without animal suffering.
- In addition to our campaign efforts, HSI has been working with global industry partners via the Animal-Free Safety Assessment Collaboration to create a first-of-its-kind master class in animal-free cosmetic safety assessment. The AFSA Master Class will support smaller companies, government authorities and other stakeholders in a transition to state-of-the-art non-animal methods. This training and capacity-building effort is a vital complement to our policy efforts, to build understanding, confidence and acceptance of new non-animal approaches, assuring human safety is maintained and providing vital information on how to comply with animal testing bans.
There is so much to be proud of in this work, and we’re honored to have led the way this far. With your continued advocacy, we’re surely close to a world where cosmetics testing on animals is only a distant memory.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.