Conservative UK government allow animal testing for cosmetics after 25-year ban

NEWS AND OPINION: To compound their earlier failures particularly those of Liz Truss, the short-lived former Prime Minister, this dying conservative government has allowed the use of animal testing for cosmetics to protect the workers making the products after this form of animal testing was banned in the UK in 1998.

Animal testing for cosmetics
Animal testing for cosmetics. Image: MikeB
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The BBC reports that the government changed the policy on animal testing to align with the EU chemical policy as governed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which ruled that companies making cosmetics needed to test some ingredients to protect the manufacturers’ workers.

It seems that despite the UK ban on animal testing for cosmetics there was a loophole which allowed them to slip in this form of testing. They had retained the EU rules despite leaving the EU in 2020 and issued licenses.

The testing could include chemicals in foundation cosmetics which are tested by forcing rats to ingest and/or inhale them. We don’t have details about the number of licenses issued. For instance, in low doses homosalate (an organic compound that belongs to a class of chemicals called salicylates) is safe but in higher concentrations it may harm the immune system.

The government’s decision was challenged in the hight court by Cruelty Free International (CFI). They argued that the testing was in breach of the ban on animal testing for makeup.

The judge. Mr Justice Levin, decided that it was legal and said that this form of animal testing (to protect workers in factories) complied with the law.

There are a number of articles on animal testing for cosmetics on this website. If the topic interests you, please click on this link. They provide an interesting backstory to this one.

This is a backward step in animal welfare. It goes against the brave words of Boris Johnson when he has Prime Minister. He was convinced by his wife to improve animal welfare in the UK. It has all gone backwards since.

Dr Julia Fentem, head of the safety and environmental assurance centre at Unilever (a company which makes lots of cosmetics) said that the testing could be conducted without animals and allowing animal testing in this context was unnecessary.

Some major beauty brands are unhappy with the judgement. It has been criticised by Unilever as mentioned and Boots and the Body Shop.

The BBC say that most major cosmetic manufacturers agree to a ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

For instance, Christopher Davis, director of activism and sustainability at the Body Shop said:

Allowing animal testing for cosmetics would be a devastating blow to the millions of people who have supported campaigns to end this appalling practice.

They will campaign vigorously against the changes.

4 thoughts on “Conservative UK government allow animal testing for cosmetics after 25-year ban”

  1. Let’s face it, the Conservative government don’t care about people, let alone animals. As well as allowing animals to be tortured for cosmetics they also wanted to lift the hunting ban, which in reality needs strengthening as it has many loopholes. Thankfully too many MPs are against hunting so hopefully they would never be able to rescind that law.

    • Agreed. These Conservatives are not concerned with animal welfare. Some do but the core of them don’t. To allow animal testing for cosmetics is a massive backward step. I have given up on them.


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