Support a future global ban on animal testing for cosmetics

Four years ago, on May 3, 2018, the European Parliament called for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics – a call we wholeheartedly support and one of the central tenets of our Positive Beauty vision and strategy.

In September 2021, Members of the European Parliament went even further with a historic vote showing their overwhelming support for a resolution to phase out animal testing. This would mean the final end to animal testing in the EU.

Unfortunately, progress is no longer just stalling, it is also beginning to reverse. Despite the constant leadership of the European Parliament on this issue, the separate regulations for cosmetics and chemicals in Europe contradict each other. The former prohibits animal testing, while the latter requires animal testing in many circumstances.

At the very center of the matter is EU chemicals legislation which determines how the safety of chemicals for people and the environment is assessed.

Why do we support a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics?

At Unilever we do not test on animals and we develop and use alternatives to animal testing to ensure the safety of the products we manufacture and their ingredients for over 40 years. The next-generation, non-animal safety assessments that currently exist offer significant advantages over animal-based approaches, some of which date back to the first half of the last century.

Modern science allows us to predict how an ingredient, or combination of ingredients, will interact with human biology in ways that tests on rabbits or rats simply cannot. Find out more in this short film about our next-generation risk assessments.

This cutting-edge science also gives us ways to predict the impact a chemical might have when it enters the environment, so we can stay well below harmful levels and help keep our planet, and the organisms that live there, safe without testing. about animals.

Leadership Beyond Science

To drive real change that leads to a global ban and an end to animal testing, our work goes beyond the innovation of next-generation non-animal risk assessments (NGRAs). We openly share our science of non-animal safety on our dedicated websiteand at scientific conferences and workshops, offering scientists around the world the opportunity to explore the approaches we are pioneering.

We focus on training others to use our approaches and spreading the science widely. And we have advocated for its acceptance by policy makers and governments so that they no longer require animal testing.

Building on all of our existing safety science, in October 2018 we announced that Unilever would join Humane Society International’s (HSI) global #BeCrueltyFree initiative., which is leading legislative reform in major beauty markets to ban animal testing of cosmetics. As part of this, we have partnered with HSI to launch a multi-year open collaboration to build capacity between companies and regulatory authorities so that safety decisions for cosmetics are based on non-animal approaches; and build long-term capacity by investing in training future safety scientists in non-animal risk assessments. At the same time, Dove became the first Unilever brand to be certified by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

It’s this model – an integrated framework of non-animal safety science that we share, more of our brands moving towards cruelty-free status, strong partnerships with NGOs, trade bodies, other companies and more, as well as advocacy with our stakeholders and with regulators – helping to drive change globally. This is also why Unilever is one of the few companies recognized by PETA as a company working for regulatory change.

What stands in the way of a worldwide ban?

In 2013, the EU initiated transformational change by moving to a total ban on animal testing for cosmetics. In line with this model, 41 countries around the world now ban animal testing for cosmetics.

But there is a problem. While the EU Cosmetics Regulation prohibits animal testing, the EU Chemicals Regulation known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) still requires animal testing. in many circumstances. This means that there is a disconnect between the two regulations and that although animal testing for cosmetics is banned in the EU, animal testing continues to take place under REACH.

And the problem is getting worse. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is calling for new animal testing for ingredients with a long history of safe use, even for those only used in cosmetics. This decision now destroys the 2013 EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

What are we doing about it?

On this fourth anniversary of the European Parliament’s support for the global ban on animal testing for cosmetics, we share the progress we have made through our commitment to defending its implementation, the challenges posed by European regulations on chemicals and what we’ do about them.

Find more details by expanding the section at the bottom of this page.

The path to follow

In August 2021, Unilever’s leading security science experts published an article outlining the change needed. It calls for a transformational change in the way chemical safety is assessed for regulatory purposes – to bridge the gap between the EU Cosmetics Regulation and REACH, creating an evolving regulatory framework that embraces the benefits of a technology modern, highly innovative and animal-free. security science.Read the article, published in the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, in full here.

Until policy makers accept the cutting-edge application of new approach methodologies (tests that do not use animals), we will continue to advocate strongly for the regulatory changes needed to enforce the legal requirement. that non-animal approaches are used if available. And on behalf of consumers, Unilever and our 31 PETA-approved brands will continue to speak out.

how you can act

You can help too. If you are an EU citizen, you can sign the European Citizens’ Initiative calling on the European Commission to protect its ban on animal testing for cosmetics and to transform EU chemicals rules so that it does not there are more flaws.

The Initiative, which enables EU citizens to influence the European Commission, has already reached over half a million signatures. Please sign to help save cruelty-free cosmetics and make your voice heard.

Our progress so far








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