Unilever backs global effort to ban animal testing for cosmetics

Unprecedented move by world’s 2nd largest beauty brand hailed as“beginning of the end for cruel cosmetics”

Humane Society International / Canada

Dra Schwartz/istock

MONTRÉAL—Today personal care giant Unilever has announced its support for the #BeCrueltyFree campaign aimed at banning animal testing for cosmetics across the globe within five years. Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund lead the #BeCrueltyFree campaign. Unilever’s support includes an ambitious new collaboration aimed at accelerating regulatory acceptance of modern, non-animal approaches to consumer safety assessment.

Unilever, known for such popular brands as Dove, Degree and TRESemmé, is the second largest beauty company globally and the first among the sector’s top 10 to actively support legislative reform to prohibit animal testing for cosmetics. The organizations hope that this new collaboration will accelerate policy change in the cosmetics sector globally toward a shared goal of animal testing bans in 50 major beauty markets worldwide by 2023.

HSI Vice President for Research & Toxicology Troy Seidle said: “Every company will tell you it supports alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics, but Unilever is the first of the beauty giants to throw its weight behind banning it altogether. With hundreds of thousands of animals still used in toxicity tests for cosmetic purposes each year around the world, Unilever is to be commended for standing with Humane Society International to end this cruelty once and for all. We urge other large beauty brands to follow this example and join us on the right side of history.”

Take the global pledge to #BeCrueltyFree.

The new collaboration will include:

  • Unilever’s support for passage of Canada’s Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (Bill S-214), which would prohibit both domestic animal testing for cosmetics as well as the sale of cosmetics that have undergone any form of new animal testing after the ban comes into effect, consistent with the precedent established in the European Union.
  • Launch of a multi-year, open collaboration to develop capability across companies and regulatory authorities so safety decisions for cosmetics are based exclusively on non-animal approaches.
  • Investment in the training of our future safety scientists in non-animal “next generation” risk assessments to build capability for the long-term.

Unilever Chief Research and Development Officer David Blanchard added: “We are delighted to collaborate with Humane Society International to bring the era of cosmetic animal testing to an end, and would welcome other companies, regulators, and other interested stakeholders that want to join this important initiative.”

Across the globe, lawmakers in 37 countries so far have enacted legislation to fully or partially ban animal testing for cosmetics. HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign played a key role in securing enactment of the final phase of the European Union ban in 2013, and in subsequent victories in India, Taiwan, Guatemala, New Zealand, South Korea, and seven states in Brazil. Today HSI and our partners are driving forward 10 more legislative efforts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the United States..

HSI predicts that the next country in line to ban cosmetics cruelty could be Canada, with Bill S-214 having reached the half-way mark in Canada’s federal legislative process. It was endorsed by the Senate in June of this year, and is currently awaiting first reading in the House of Commons. According to polling by The Strategic Counsel on behalf of HSI and Animal Alliance of Canada, 88 percent of Canadians agree that testing new cosmetics is not worth animal suffering, and 81 percent support a national ban on animal testing of cosmetics and their ingredients. Canadians wishing to support this legislation are urged to contact their Member of Parliament via becrueltyfree.ca.

The facts:

  • Animal tests carried out in the cosmetics sector include eye and skin irritation experiments, in which a cosmetic product or ingredient is rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits; skin allergy tests using guinea pigs or mice; and force-feeding studies that last weeks or months. These tests inflict considerable pain and distress, which can include blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding, organ damage, convulsions and death. Pain relief is seldom if ever provided, and at the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.
  • Canada’s Food and Drugs Act requires that all cosmetic and other personal care products sold in Canada be safe when used as intended, but does not specifically require animal testing to substantiate safety.

Unilever’s position on alternative approaches to animal testing (October 2018) is available here.


Media contacts:

Christopher Paré, cpare@hsi.org

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