EU ban on cosmetics testing
And why the Leaping Bunny is still needed
Leaping Bunny criteria
In order to become Leaping Bunny certified, companies must meet our rigorous criteria:
- They must apply a fixed cut-off date – this is an immoveable date, after which the company will no longer conduct or commission animal tests for cosmetics (i.e. where an ingredient was first used in a cosmetic or that is its main use) – anywhere in the world
- They cannot purchase cosmetics ingredients animal-tested after their fixed cut-off date – anywhere in their supply chain
- They must set up a monitoring system to ensure their suppliers comply with their fixed cut-off date
- They must open up their monitoring system to regular independent audits to check they continue to comply with their fixed cut-off date for all their cosmetics, including any new ones.
All Leaping Bunny certified companies must meet these criteria for their entire product range, and for every country they sell in. The criteria apply irrespective of the toxicological purpose of a particular test.
Cruelty Free International and our partners at the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments were instrumental in achieving the ground-breaking European ban on animal testing for cosmetic and toiletry (‘cosmetic’) products and ingredients.
From 11 March 2009, the EU banned the testing, within the EU, of cosmetic ingredients – irrespective of whether there were non-animal alternatives. It had already banned the testing in the EU of cosmetic products. The bans are known as ‘the testing bans’.
From 11 March 2013, the EU completed the ban on the sale of cosmetics animal-tested after that date anywhere in the world. The ban applies to both cosmetics products and ingredients, again irrespective of whether there are alternatives. It is known as the ‘marketing ban’.
However, there are limitations to the EU bans (see below).
For over two decades, we have been certifying companies as cruelty free under the Leaping Bunny programme. During this time it was the only way consumers could be sure they were buying products that were not tested on animals.
And the Leaping Bunny continues to be the best way you can be sure you are buying truly ‘cruelty free’ beauty products – because there are important differences between the Leaping Bunny and the EU bans.
The EU bans
As stated above, there are limitations to the EU bans:
- Under EU law, they can only apply where there is a connection with the EU – i.e. testing within the EU or sale within the EU where the testing took place elsewhere
- The European Commission argues that the bans only apply to cosmetic products and ingredients which are only used in cosmetics
- It also argues that the bans do not apply to testing to determine if there is a risk to the environment (so-called 'ecotox testing’)
- Moreover, it argues that the bans do not apply to worker safety tests
- Rather, it says that the bans only apply to tests specifically aimed at consumer safety.
Cruelty Free International does not agree with the narrow interpretation put by the Commission and we are seeking to challenge it. However, that is how the bans are being operated at present – for example, by the European Chemicals Agency, which is in charge of important EU legislation on the safety of chemicals.
How does the Leaping Bunny brand go beyond the basic EU regulation
Cosmetics companies which are not Leaping Bunny certified can still test their products or ingredients on animals – as long as they don’t do these tests or sell these products in the European Union.
For example, before some cosmetics products can go on sale in China, they must be tested by the Chinese authorities, which normally involves a range of animal tests.
Companies certified by the Leaping Bunny have not been permitted to sell in China at all until recently, when the animal testing regulations were relaxed. These companies made a big commitment to ethics over profits as China is a fast-growing market which they weren’t able to access, unlike companies which aren’t certified by the Leaping Bunny.
In addition, the Leaping Bunny does not only apply to ingredients solely used in cosmetics, or to consumer safety testing – it applies to any kind of testing, including worker safety and for the environment. We don’t think consumers care what type of label is put on a test, or whether an ingredient happens to have another minor use. Moreover, companies remain bound by their fixed cut-off date: in many cases, that will be before the EU bans.
The EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics has been a hugely important step forward, if properly interpreted. But until we achieve a meaningful, global ban on animal testing, the Leaping Bunny continues to be the only guarantee that animals are not still being used to test the cosmetic ingredients in a company’s products. The Leaping Bunny has a really important influence in achieving a global ban.