California Makes Animal Testing for Cosmetics Illegal—Almost! 2018 will be remembered as a victory year in the fight against the cruel practice of testing cosmetic products on animals.
The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act makes it “unlawful for a manufacturer to import for profit, sell, or offer for sale in this state, any cosmetic, as defined, if the cosmetic was developed or manufactured using an animal test that was conducted or contracted by the manufacturer, or any supplier of the manufacturer, on or after January 1, 2020, except as specified.” 1
The law carries an initial fine of $5,000 and an additional fine of $1,000 for each day the violation continues and may be enforced by the district attorney or city attorney in the county or city in which the violation occurred. 1
The new law was the result of the hard work of a coalition consisting of The Human Society of the United States, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Social Compassion in Legislation, and the LUSH cosmetics company.
The president of Social Compassion in Legislation, Julie Mancuso, expressed excitement over the law’s passing, “This is a dream come true. I had hoped in my lifetime we would say goodbye to animal-tested products.
My group, Social Compassion in Legislation, was poised and politically ready to take this issue on. We found the perfect partner to merge forces with in the Physicians Committee.
Leading this effort is the biggest accomplishment of my lifetime, and we are so grateful to Governor Brown for signing this lifesaving and landmark bill into law. It is a legacy both he and Senator Galgiani can be proud of, and one for the history books as a huge step forward for humanity.” 2
Kristie Sullivan, Vice President of Research Policy at the Physicians Committee had this to say, “We at the Physicians Committee are proud to have co-sponsored this historic bill, helping draft and advance it into law—a law that will ensure progress for science, ingredient safety, and animals.
We will continue our work to modernize safety testing across the globe, including advocating for policy change and educating foreign regulators about the effective, affordable non-animal testing methods available today.” 2
Despite the new law, problems remain. While the Food and Drug Administration does not require animal testing, they don’t discourage it either. On their website, the FDA explains, “The FD&C Act does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval.
However, the agency has consistently advised cosmetic manufacturers to employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective for substantiating the safety of their products. 3 HSUS wants the FDA to specifically prohibit animal testing and continues to work on national legislation to stop the sale and transportation of any cosmetic tested on animals.
The California law is just a first step. In an interview with HuffPost, Vicki Katrinak, HSUS program manager for animal research issues said, “We’re hopeful this law will encourage the federal government to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act.” 4
According to an HSUS press release, “The law will end the sale of cosmetics like lipstick, deodorant and shampoo that contain ingredients that are newly tested on animals with a few exceptions for ingredients tested on animals for non-cosmetic purposes as required by certain regulatory agencies and for companies to comply with foreign testing requirements.”5 Unfortunately, that last part, “to comply with foreign testing requirements, is another challenging twist that leaves a door open to animal testing.
SUS explains the loophole this way, “The Chinese government conducts mandatory animal tests on all cosmetic products imported into the country. The government may also conduct animal tests on items pulled from store shelves.
Therefore, even if a cosmetics company does not test their products or ingredients on animals, if they sell their products in China they cannot be considered cruelty-free.”
On the positive side, among the 38 countries/regions that HSUS lists as restricting animal testing are the European Union, India, Israel, Norway, Switzerland, Guatemala, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and much of Brazil. 6
Until animal testing is stopped worldwide, you can take steps to reduce its toll by purchasing only “Leaping Bunny” Approved Brands. These are cruelty-free companies that use the Leaping Bunny logo. You can search for them here.
Check out the Humane Society’s infographic here. And Kesha, pop-singer, and song-writer, supports The Humane Society of the United States’s #BeCrueltyFreeUSA campaign to end animal testing of cosmetics. “The power lies with us and we don’t need to harm animals to be beautiful!” -Kesha.
1 California Legislative Information. Senate Bill No. 1249. Chapter 899. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act.
2 Social Compassion in Legislation. SB 1249 California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Signed by Governor Brown! Press Release. 28 September 2018.
3 Food and Drug Administration, U.S. (FDA). Animal Testing & Cosmetics.
4 Hanson H. California Just Officially Banned the Sale of Animal-Tested Cosmetics. Huffington Post. 28 January 2018.
5 Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). California becomes first state to prohibit the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. Press Release. September 28, 2018.
6 Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Fact sheet: Cosmetics testing.