By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block
Cosmetics animal testing is on its way out the world over and U.S. states are rapidly moving in the direction of that trend. Just this month lawmakers in three states—Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey—have moved decisively to end the sales of cosmetics tested on animals and/or prohibit cosmetics animal testing.
Virginia lawmakers last week voted to pass legislation to ban cosmetics animal testing and sales of animal-tested cosmetics. The bill now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature.
On Friday, the New Jersey state Senate voted unanimously to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act, a bill that would prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. The state assembly will consider the bill next.
Earlier this month, the Maryland Senate voted to prohibit production and sales of animal-tested cosmetics and the House of Delegates will soon vote on this bill.
Bills addressing the unnecessary cruelty of cosmetics animal testing are also under consideration in Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York.
States that successfully pass a ban would join three U.S. states that already have laws banning animal testing on their books. In 2018 California became the first state to prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics followed by Nevada and Illinois in 2019.
The momentum for ending cosmetics animal testing and the sales of products tested on animals has been driven by growing awareness about the cruelty of traditional animal tests, where animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats have substances forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes, or smeared onto their skin before they are killed. Consumers are increasingly scanning labels on shampoos, lipsticks, mascara and thousands of products to ensure they are cruelty-free.
Cosmetics companies themselves are increasingly changing their practices. Companies like LUSH and MOM’s Organic Market, which sell cosmetic products in some of the states where bills ending cosmetics animal testing are under consideration, have shown that providing humane products is good for business. The Personal Care Products Council, which is the leading national trade association representing approximately 600 personal care products companies, partnered with us to lead the federal Humane Cosmetics Act, a bill addressing cosmetics animal testing and imports, when it was introduced in the last Congress. We anticipate the bill will soon be reintroduced.
Globally, efforts made by Humane Society International, its partners and others have resulted in 40 countries, including member states of the European Union, Australia, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey passing laws prohibiting or limiting cosmetics testing on animals.
A ban on cosmetics animal testing and sales of animal-tested cosmetics should be a no-brainer. Animal-welfare-minded consumers want to be sure the products they buy are cruelty-free. And cosmetics companies have nothing to lose because U.S law does not require that cosmetics be animal tested to ensure they are safe. There are thousands of ingredients already available for companies to create great products without any new testing, animal or otherwise.
In case of new ingredients many non-animal test methods have been, and continue to be, developed that are as effective—or even more effective than —animal tests have been. These new methods can combine human-cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models to deliver results that are better able to predict human responses.
Ending cosmetics animal testing is a battle our Be Cruelty-Free campaign has been engaged in for a long time, and it is heartening to see so many states moving to end a practice that should have no place in a humane world. We will keep you posted on the progress of these bills in weeks to come. If you live in Maryland or New Jersey, you can help by calling your lawmakers and asking them to support the bills in your state. And if you live in Virginia, please ask Gov. Northam to sign the bill there into law without delay.
Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.