Prohibitions on cosmetics testing in the EU and elsewhere
And why the Leaping Bunny is still needed
Prohibitions on cosmetics animal testing and the Leaping Bunny
- They must apply a fixed cut-off date, an immovable date after which neither the brand nor any of its suppliers and manufacturers may conduct, commission or be party to animal tests for products, raw materials or ingredients anywhere in the world.*
- They cannot purchase and use cosmetics ingredients animal tested anywhere in the world after their fixed cut-off date.*
- They cannot rely on safety data for cosmetics products or ingredients generated anywhere in the world after their fixed cut-off date. This applies for their entire supply chain.
- They must set up a continuous monitoring system to ensure their suppliers comply with Leaping Bunny criteria.
- 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 brands 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.
- Leaping Bunny brands are currently not permitted to sell in stores in Mainland China unless part of the Leaping Bunny China pilot programme.
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 unless direct to consumer. 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.
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.
Leaping Bunny in China
Cosmetics regulations in China are fast-moving, and progress is being made. For the moment, the requirement for animal testing for imported cosmetics remains in law. That means that Leaping Bunny brands are not able to market in Mainland China unless they are part of our Leaping Bunny China pilot programme where the necessary provisions are in place to make sure there is no animal testing.
Since the jointly issued Circular on Improving Supervision of Cross-Border E-Commerce Retail Imports 2019 came into force earlier this year, we have been working to find a detailed route to market that is both respectful of the existing Chinese regulations and does not place Leaping Bunny brands at risk of animal tests.
The waiver of the requirement for pre-approval registration for cosmetics means that Leaping Bunny brands looking to sell online cross-border into Mainland China are now able to do so using platforms such as TMall Global if their fulfilment is outside Mainland China and they are exclusively selling directly to individual customers in their homes for personal use. Brands should contact the Leaping Bunny team.
We are still working closely with our partners to encourage change in China and are hugely welcoming of the promising developments that are being made there. Our aim is to provide cruelty-free products to Chinese consumers whilst continuing to work with our partners and the relevant Chinese authorities to come to a solution that will eliminate cosmetics animal testing in the very near future.