History of the UK ban
In 1998 the Government announced a policy ban to end the use of animal testing for finished cosmetic products and ingredients. The definition of a cosmetic was in line with the concurrent EU description:
“any substance or preparation intended for placing in contact with the various external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair systems, nails, lops and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membrane of the oral cavity with a view (exclusively or principally) to cleaning them, perfuming them or protecting them in order to keep them in good condition, change their appearance or correct body odours.”
The definition included toothpastes, sun creams and other products which were considered to be pharmaceuticals outside of Europe at the time.
Whilst the ban in the UK was not part of any legislation, the companies involved with animal testing of cosmetic products relinquished their Home Office licences and were not able to renew them.
History of the EU ban
EU Directive 76/768/EEC (Cosmetics Directive) provided the regulatory framework for the phasing out of animal testing for cosmetics purposes across the EU and established a testing ban i.e. it is prohibited to test a finished cosmetic product and its ingredients on animals in the EU; and a marketing ban i.e. it is prohibited to market a finished cosmetic product or its ingredients in the EU if they are tested on animals.
Between 2007 and 2011 the EU spent €238 million on funding replacements which is as testament to how serious they are about animal welfare, the 3Rs and the quest to find non-animal methods.