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A history of the EU cosmetic testing ban
History of the EU ban

EU Directive 76/768/EEC (Cosmetics Directive) has 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 non-animal replacement tests - a testament to its concern about animal welfare, the 3Rs and the quest to find alternative methods.


In 1993 the 6th Amendment to EU Directive 76/768/EEC was passed and contained a ban on the sale of animal tested cosmetic products. To make sure that adequate time was given to finding non-animal methods, the deadline for the ban to come into effect was 1st January 1998.


In 1997 the ban was delayed until 30th June 2000 due to a lack of alternative methods.


In 2000 the ban was delayed until 30th June 2002 due to a lack of alternative methods.


In 2003 the 7th Amendment to EU Directive 76/768/EEC was passed and contained a phased-in ban on animal testing for cosmetics with a deadline of 2013:

  • Ban animal testing on finished products.

  • Ban animal testing on cosmetic ingredients.

  • Ban the marketing of finished products tested on animals.

  • Ban the marketing of cosmetic ingredients tested on animals.


On 11th September 2004 the ban on animal tested cosmetic products came into force. The sale of cosmetic ingredients tested on animals outside the EU using methods that have been replaced within the EU was also banned.


On 11th March 2009 the ban on animal testing of cosmetic ingredients within the EU was implemented. The sale of cosmetic products containing newly animal-tested ingredients was banned, however animal testing was still allowed for complex human health issues such as repeat dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics.


On 11th March 2013 the full ban came into effect and it is now illegal to market or sell cosmetics in the EU where the finished product or ingredients have been tested on animals.


As of 11th July 2013 EU Directive 76/768/EEC was replaced by EU Regulation 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation) which contains all the same provisions.

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.

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