International Cosmetics Regulation Reform

The Physicians Committee

Cosmetics Testing: End the Use of Animals in Personal Care Product Testing


International Cosmetics Regulation Reform

In recent months, cosmetics regulation reform has gained traction in the international community. On Jan. 1, 2013, Israel banned the import and sale of all animal-tested cosmetics and household products. On March 11, 2013, the entire European Union announced the final implementation of the staged—and long-awaited—marketing, import, and test ban for animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients. Because of this movement, India announced that it too is working to ban animal-tested cosmetics. However, there are a few countries that mandate animal tests with cosmetics, including China and Brazil.

Israel: Israel no longer allows the import or sale of animal-tested cosmetics, toiletries, or household cleaners. In 2007, animal testing conducted in Israel on these products was barred, but in 2013 the import was closed to prevent testing in other parts of the world. The Israeli law states that, “The animal testing conducted in the course of cosmetics development entails causing animals great suffering and is done without painkillers.” This language underlines the ethical imperative to abolish animal tested cosmetics.

European Union: On March 11, 2013, the marketing, import, and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients became illegal in the EU. The EU Cosmetics Directive (76/768 EEC) couples the safety of cosmetics with a ban on animal testing. Like Israel, it takes the extra step to ban animal-tested ingredients or final products from being sold in the EU if animal testing occurred anywhere in the world. This ban pushed the EU to fund and develop nonanimal testing techniques which are now being used all over the world. In addition to developing methods that are more accurate for predicting human health effects, this ban will save the lives of countless rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats who suffer and die for cosmetics testing.

India: On June 28, 2013, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) announced that it was removing animal tests from India’s cosmetics standards, which includes both the finished product and its ingredients. Cosmetics manufacturers are now required to use nonanimal methods to test the safety of their products before they are approved by the BIS. In doing so, “the Indian government has made a commitment to the welfare of animals,” says Drug Controller General of India Dr. G. N. Singh. There is still a push for India to follow in the footsteps of Israel and the EU and ban the importation of cosmetics tested on animals. The decision followed a thorough scientific examination. Once the ban is codified more than a billion people will use cruelty-free Indian cosmetics.

China: Because the Chinese cosmetics market is one of the fastest growing in the world, a number of companies have announced plans to sell their products in China. However, before any exported cosmetic product is sold in China—including American products sold in China—cosmetic companies must pay the Chinese government to conduct a series of animal tests. It is for this reason that numerous cruelty-free companies have put compassion before profit and chosen not to enter the Chinese market.

On Nov. 6, 2013, the Chinese government announced that domestically manufactured cosmetic products with “ordinary” purposes will no longer be required to undergo animal tests as was previously mandated—they will have the option to use nonanimal methods to prove safety. Cosmetic ingredients will continue to be animal tested as will “special-use cosmetics” such as sunscreen, hair dye, and antiperspirant deodorants. In addition, imported cosmetics will continue to undergo required animal testing. Scientists from various organizations and companies are continuing to work with Chinese regulators to show how nonanimal testing methods work and how they can easily be implemented.