8 min read

Cosmetic Animal Testing May Finally Be Kaput In America

Many consumers are surprised to learn that animals like rabbits, mice and guinea pigs are still used to assess the safety of cosmetics. Fortunately, countries around the globe have been taking action to make this inhumane practice a thing of the past. The #BeCrueltyFree USA campaign, led by The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, is working with cosmetic companies and legislators to make sure the US becomes the next cruelty-free marketplace.

The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2858) introduced by Reps. Martha McSally, R, Ariz., Don Beyer, D, Va., Joe Heck, R, Nev., and Tony Cárdenas, D, Calif., would end the use of animals to test cosmetic products and ingredients and prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics within three years. With the world's largest cosmetic industry, and the very recent introduction of legislation in Canada, we have the power to make North America the next biggest cruelty-free market place. Passage of the Humane Cosmetics Act in the US would signal to all countries that wish to remain competitive in the cosmetics market that cruelty will not be tolerated.

The Humane Cosmetics Act has received the endorsement of a growing number of celebrities including Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Ricky Gervais and singer and songwriter, Kesha. A longtime champion for animal protection, Kesha is helping the #BeCrueltyFree USA Campaign spread the word about cruel cosmetic testing with a recently released video and made the following statement:

"Once I was educated about the hidden cruelties that lurk behind some cosmetic products companies, I knew I had to take action and do everything in my power to end this inhumane practice of testing our cosmetics on animals. Around the globe tens of thousands of animals are killed in unnecessary tests for beauty products. Congress has introduced The Humane Cosmetics Act - a bill to end cosmetics testing on animals in the United States. But even now it's easy to avoid buying cosmetics tested on animals by only buying cruelty-free products. The power lies with us and we don't need to harm animals to be beautiful! My hope is that with the help of the HSUS's #BeCrueltyFree campaign, we can ignite a cruelty-free revolution and the United States can join the 30+ other countries who have already banned egregious cosmetic animal tests. Let's #BeCrueltyFree!"

While many companies vowed to end animal testing for cosmetic products more than 30 years ago, the use of animals to test some cosmetic ingredients has persisted. Many of the animal testing methods used to assess safety of cosmetics were developed in the 1940s. These outdated tests include putting chemicals on animals' skin or into their eyes to assess the level of irritation caused. The animals suffer immensely during these painful experiments and are often killed at the end of the test period.

Animal suffering is not the only reason that consumers should oppose the use of animals to test cosmetic products and ingredients. While these test methods may have represented the best available science years ago, there are a number of new test methods that have been developed. These methods provide information more relevant to human exposure and are often more cost effective. Companies within the cosmetic industry have played an important role in the development of these alternatives as they have worked to comply with international laws banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. We encourage them to join us in support of the Humane Cosmetics Act.

Over 600 North American personal care and household product companies have already received certification from the Leaping Bunny Program, which guarantees no new animal testing of ingredients, formulations or finished products. In addition, 140 companies in the personal care product industry have already endorsed the Humane Cosmetics Act including Lush, COTY, Paul Mitchell and Seventh Generation. We call on all cosmetic companies to join us in pushing for passage of the Humane Cosmetics Act.

More than 30 countries including the member states of the European Union, India, Israel and Norway have already passed laws to ban the use of animals to test cosmetics and their component ingredients. These laws also prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. New Zealand was the most recent country to ban cosmetic testing on animals and legislation to limit or end such testing is under consideration in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and now the United States. Of the 13 biggest importers of American cosmetics, eight countries have bans in place, legislation introduced or in negotiation. It is time for the US to end cruel and unnecessary animal testing and pass the Humane Cosmetics Act. We ask all readers to join Kesha and the #BeCrueltyFree USA campaign to take action by urging your representative to support the Humane Cosmetics Act here.

Vicki Katrinak is program manager for Animal Research Issues at The Humane Society of the United States.