Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Today sees historic ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the European Union

Posted: 11 March 2009

The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) welcomes this week, the historic ban on testing of cosmetics products on animals.

Although many UK shoppers think that animal testing for cosmetics is already banned, the truth is: animal-tested cosmetics from Europe and elsewhere are still for sale in our major High Street shops.
From March 11th, thousands of animals could be spared suffering, as it will be illegal to:

1.TEST ingredients for cosmetics on animals anywhere in the European Union, regardless of whether or not there is a non-animal alternative method available (testing on the finished products is already banned, but many products contain ingredients that have still been tested on animals)

2.SELL cosmetics in the European Union which have been tested on animals after this new cut-off date of 11 March 2009 (except for certain types of test which will also be banned on 11 March 2013)

Cosmetics testing has been banned in the UK since 1998, which the NAVS hailed as a massive victory after a long campaign. Since 2004, it has been illegal for finished cosmetics products to be tested on animals in the EU when there is a validated alternative available.

However, it has still been possible to buy cosmetics where the ingredients have involved animal testing. Companies could legally put ‘not tested on animals’ on the packaging as they are referring to the finished product, not the individual ingredients.

In the most recent statistics, more than five thousand animals were used in a year for cosmetics or toiletries testing. This testing will now have to stop, and the companies that have been testing their products on animals will have to take up new, advanced scientific methods from March 11th 2009. It’s reported there are already around eight thousand established ingredients on the market, so the NAVS says it is not necessary to test more.

As well as banning testing, an EU block on selling cosmetic products that have involved animal experiments after 11th March 2009 will also come into force. This will prevent the sale of cosmetics that have been tested outside the EU, some of them involving European companies that outsource the work overseas. Companies have been allowed to continue testing when they say a validated alternative is not available. Some exemptions apply to the sales ban, and these will finally also be completely banned by 2013.

The NAVS has been campaigning on cosmetics testing for more than 25 years, and real progress has been made. Some horrific tests have been carried out on animals, such as the Draize Test for eye irritation, where toxic substances were dripped into rabbits’ eyes. Skin irritation tests, skin sensitisation tests and allergy testing have also been used to test cosmetic products.
The cosmetics ban comes into force at a crucial time for animals in experiments. MEPs are currently deciding the fate of countless animals as they debate changing the European law on animal testing for the first time in more than 20 years.

This has raised issues such as the use of primates, where 80% of European citizens have stated that they find primate use to be “not acceptable” (EC survey), and 55% of the European Parliament signed a call for a phase-out of primate use; as well as animal testing for everyday household products and regulating the severity of the most painful tests, which have major implications for animals.

Chief Executive of the NAVS, Jan Creamer, says “The NAVS worked tirelessly to achieve a ban on cosmetics testing in the UK, but many innocent shoppers don’t realise that products with ingredients tested on animals are still for sale on our shop shelves. When the ban on animal-tested cosmetics in the EU comes into force in March 2009, shoppers should then finally be able to buy with a clear conscience. It shows that a phased approach to banning animal testing is possible and achieves real results, and that approach can now be applied to other animal tests”.


For further information, contact NAVS Public Relations Officer, Ally MacDonald
Office Tel: 020 7630 3344. Mobile: 07785 552548


For the history of the EU Cosmetics Ban please see here:
And here:

5571 animals were used for testing cosmetics or toiletries in the EU in 2005 (most recent statistics available)
Rabbits: 608
Guinea pigs: 940
Rats: 2226
Mice: 1797

‘Fifth Report on the Statistics on the Number of Animals used for Experimental and other
Scientific Purposes in the Member States of the European Union’ (figures for 2005) is available here:

Examples of specific tests which are exempted from the cosmetics ban which comes into force on March 11, 2009 are:
•Repeated dose toxicity: oral administration of a toxic substance, involving rodents including rabbits, rats and mice.
Potential non-animal alternatives include organ tissue slices, human cells and computer simulations.
•Reproductive toxicity: the test poison is given orally, the pregnant female rabbit or rat is killed just prior to delivery and the foetuses are examined for toxic effects. In other tests males are also poisoned and the effect on offspring studied.
Non-animal alternatives that could be used as part of a testing strategy include embryonic stem cell test for embryotoxicity, micromass embryotoxicity assay and whole rat embryo embryotoxicity assay
•Toxicokinetics: the study of the rates of absorption of toxic substances.
Non-animal alternatives include cell cultures, liver slices and computer-based systems.

Irrespective of the availability of non-animal alternative tests, these exemptions will also be banned from 11 March 2013, ten years after the Cosmetics Directive came into force.

of 27 February 2003, with amendments is available here:

The full text of the proposal to revise 86 609 EEC (released on November 5th, 2008) which governs the rules on all animal testing across Europe is available here:

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