Animal Testing: Laws & Loopholes

My earlier post on animal testing prompted a lot of you to email and tweet in with questions.  Your number 1 query being ‘is animal testing actually legal’?

Here are the facts.

Outside Europe it is a free-for-all, with little or no restrictions on animal testing of cosmetics in many countries, including USA and China.

In Europe things are different due to the 2003 EU Cosmetic Directive. This bans:

  • the testing of cosmetic products
  • the testing of individual cosmetic ingredients

A staged implementation was applied to this legislation to give companies time to find viable testing alternatives – see ‘phasing out’ timetable below:

2003 Announcement of ban
11 March 2009 Testing ban enacted, with exemptions for three tests still permitted
11 March 2013 Complete ban on sales & marketing of all cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals. Animal tested cosmetic imports into Europe also prohibited.


If all goes to plan, from March 2013, our shop shelves in Europe should be free of animal tested products. At least in theory….

What are the Loopholes?  

  • Cosmetic companies are relied on to do their own due diligence on suppliers. There appears to be no auditing process to guarantee legal compliance.
  • Companies are still able to conduct animal testing outside Europe – hence the latest hoo-ha over China 
  • Cross-over ‘medical’ and ‘cosmetic’ ingredients may be exempt. Medical ingredients are legitimately animal tested but are often used in cosmetic preparations and marketed for their skin benefits.

This is where certification  becomes important. The Leaping Bunny logo – displayed on approved products – helps customers shop for cruelty-free cosmetics with confidence.

Avon was recently reported to the ASA for making cruelty-free claims that didn’t stand up to scrutiny. I suspect there are many more brands bending the rules that just haven’t been caught…yet.

Don’t be duped! Challenge your beloved beauty brands to stand up and be counted on this important issue.

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