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We achieved a ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the EU!

Main Content:

The Truth About Cosmetics Animal Testing

Your top 10 ten questions answered!

Isn\'t cosmetics animal testing already banned?

In February 2003, the EU agreed a ban on cosmetics animal testing, which came into effect in two stages.

The first stage was implemented on 11th March 2009, when the 7th amendment to the Cosmetics Directive brought into force two bans, and it became illegal to:

  • test cosmetic ingredients on animals anywhere in the EU, irrespective of whether there is a validated alternative
  • sell or import into the EU any ingredients to be used in cosmetics (or the cosmetics themselves) tested on animals after that date (the sales or ‘marketing’ ban)

However, three types of animal tests were exempt from this sales or ‘marketing’ ban in order to allow non-animal alternative testing methods to be validated.

The three animal tests still allowed were:

  • Repeat dose toxicity – rabbits or rats are forced to eat or inhale the cosmetics ingredient or have it rubbed onto their shaved skin every day for 28 or 90 days and are then killed.
  • Reproductive toxicity – pregnant female rabbits or rats are force-fed the substance and then killed along with their unborn babies.
  • Toxicokinetics – rabbits or rats are forced to eat the substance and then are killed and their organs examined to see how it is distributed in their bodies.

On 11th March 2013, the EU is set to implement the second and final stage of the ban, prohibiting the import and sale of all newly animal-tested cosmetic products and ingredients in the European Union.

What kinds of animal tests are carried out for cosmetics?

In cosmetics research, painful experiments are carried out worldwide on thousands of animals every year, including, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats. This includes tests for skin or eye irritation, skin sensitisation (allergy), toxicity (poisoning), mutagenicity (genetic damage), teratogencity (birth defects), carcinogenicity (causing cancer), embryonic or fetal genetic damage and toxicokinetics (to study the absorption, metabolism, distribution and excretion of the substance).

What are the alternatives to animal testing?

There are a variety of approved alternatives that can replace cruel animal tests. Combinations of existing ingredients that have already been established as safe for human use can also be utilised.

It has been estimated that there are around 15,000 ingredients already proven safe for use. More and more cruelty free companies are saying no to animal testing and still produce safe, effective and high quality beauty products.

How do I go cruelty free?

It's easy! Consumers can help by buying cruelty free products. Some of the Europe’s leading high street retailers are approved under the ECEAE’s Humane Cosmetics Standard (HCS) and/or Humane Household Products Standard (HHPS) so it's now easier than ever to buy products which are not tested on animals.

Companies can help by joining the Standard.

What is the Humane Cosmetics Standard?

Launched in 1998, the HCS is the only internationally recognised scheme that enables consumers to easily identify and purchase cosmetic and toiletry products that have not been tested on animals.

A company can display the Leaping Bunny logo if they have been approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard.

What does the Leaping Bunny logo mean?

If you see our Leaping Bunny logo on a product, you can be absolutely sure:

  • The finished product has not been tested on animals
  • Cosmetic ingredients used to make that product have not been tested on animals in the company’s supply chain after a fixed date
  • The company has to recommit being cruelty free every year with a full audit
What's the difference between the HCS and other 'cruelty-free' lists?

There are a number of retailers and animal groups promoting their own cruelty free schemes. However, the companies approved by them have sometimes done no more than issue a convincing — yet misleading — policy statement on animal testing.

The HCS/HHPS (Household Products) is the only internationally recognised Standard that guarantees a product is completely free from animal testing within a company’s supply chain after a fixed date, as it requires companies to prove what they claim. It is the only scheme that requires each company to be open to an independent audit throughout its supply chain, to ensure that they adhere to their animal testing policy and the Standard's strict criteria.

What does it mean if a company says 'we do not test on animals' or 'we do not endorse animal testing'?

The company making the product does not do any testing on animals, and does not formally request that animal testing is done on their behalf. But this may not prevent them buying ingredients from suppliers who do.

What does it mean if a company says it funds research into alternatives?

The company donates money to an organisation promoting alternative testing methods. But this would not prevent them using animal testing in their supply chain or their final product.

How can I find out which companies are approved by the ECEAE?

Go to for a list of all the companies that are approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard (HCS) and Household Product Standard (HHPS). You can search for brands available in your country, or by the brand name. 

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