National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Cosmetics Testing Ends in Europe: A victory for ethics and science

Posted: 11 March 2013. Updated: 11 March 2013


Today (March 11th) the NAVS welcomes the final stage of implementation of the European Cosmetics Directive. This ends the sale, in the EU, of cosmetics that continue to be tested on animals elsewhere in the world.

The historic move not only marks the end of the testing of any cosmetics on animals in the EU but, for the first time, puts pressure on cosmetics manufacturers in the USA, Japan, China, and elsewhere to end testing on animals, if they want to sell in the huge EU market.

The NAVS 30 year campaign against cosmetic tests believes this is not merely a victory for ethics but also for science, as it has seen the systematic replacement of animal tests with scientifically advanced non-animal alternatives, which closed the deal. A series of humane alternative methods were developed, simply because companies were compelled to find them, in the face of upcoming cosmetic testing deadlines set by the European Parliament.

A huge factor when securing the bans on cosmetics testing, first in the UK and then in Europe, was that these tests were unjustified and unnecessary. However, in terms of the safety testing protocols laid down in regulations, this was always complex. People use products such as cosmetics and toiletries over decades, around the eyes and mouth, so they are absorbed and ingested. However, because MEPs agreed that there was no necessity in having more and more of these products, they set deadlines for replacement tests to be introduced. That gave industry the incentive to spend some of their profits on change.

The simple fact is if we can have an effective safety testing strategy that does not use animals for products that are daily applied to the face and body, then we should be preparing to eliminate animal tests in other areas. When the NAVS campaigned for the Cosmetics Directive it was met by enormous opposition by animal testing companies but, when they had a deadline, they found the alternatives.

The NAVS exposed the horrific nature of cosmetics testing, securing images inside animal laboratories of racks of rabbits restrained in stocks having products dripped into their eyes, and guinea pigs with their backs raw and inflamed after having products applied to their skin.

For the majority of tests, animals have not been used for cosmetic ingredients in the EU since March 2009. The deadline for the replacement of certain animal tests under the marketing ban was extended to March 2013 in order to allow alternatives to be developed and approved.

The NAVS successfully secured an amendment to the new European Directive on animal experiments, which became law this year, calling for a ‘thematic review’ system of replacement of animal research, with a view to setting targets for replacement of other animal tests in a similar way to the target-setting system within the Cosmetics Directive.

The NAVS hopes that progress will be made next to end the use of animals for testing household products, an issue it has also campaigned on for many years, providing consumers with information on non-animal tested brands. According to recent figures, over 4,000 animals were used for household product tests in Europe, with 24 animals being used in the UK. In July 2011 the Coalition government announced a commitment to end the tests, but as yet no details of when a ban will be introduced have been given.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society