EU & UK Cosmetic Testing Ban
Animal testing for cosmetics
In the UK and across the rest of the EU, testing cosmetic products or their ingredients on animals is banned. This means that it is illegal to sell or market a cosmetic product if animal testing has taken place on the finished cosmetic or its ingredients before being sold in the EU.
A ban on animal tested cosmetic products was first implemented in the UK in 1998 for finished cosmetic products and ‘ingredients intended primarily for “vanity” products’. The EU ban on animal tested cosmetic products was first passed in 1993 with the full ban taking effect in 2013.
Whilst the UK was a forerunner for banning animal tested cosmetics this legislation is now part of EU Regulation 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation).
What is a cosmetic product?
The EU defines a cosmetic product as the following:
“any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition”
Therefore everyday hygiene products, such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste, as well as luxury beauty items, including perfumes and makeup, are classified as cosmetic products.
Cosmetic products and animal testing
Cosmetic products for sale in the EU (including the UK) must be deemed safe and it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that they (and their ingredients) undergo scientific safety assessments to prove that they are not toxic to human health.
Before the ban on animal tested cosmetics was implemented, safety assessments involving the use of animal studies to determine toxicology endpoint were required. The results gathered from these studies measured the effects the cosmetic and its ingredients had on human health and mainly involved the use of rodents and rabbits. When a safety assessment already existed for an ingredient in a new cosmetic product the animal study for the ingredient would not have to be repeated (the animal study for the finished cosmetic would still be required). However, for a new ingredient where a safety assessment did not previously exist, animal studies had to be conducted.
Due to the development of non-animal techniques it became apparent that these animal studies were no longer required and a ban on animal tested cosmetics and their ingredients was introduced.