Unilever backs Humane Society International 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 / Global

Meredith Lee/The HSUS

WASHINGTON—Today personal care giant Unilever has announced its support for Humane Society International’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign aimed at banning animal testing for cosmetics across the globe within five years. 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 legislation around the world led by HSI and its partners to 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 already enacted legislation to fully or partially ban animal testing for cosmetics. HSI played a key role in securing enactment of the final phase of the EU ban in 2013, and in subsequent victories in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala and seven states in Brazil. Today HSI and its 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.

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.

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


Media contacts:

  • HSI-United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423
  • HSI-United States: Nancy Hwa, nhwa@hsi.org, 202-676-2337 (o), 202-596-0808 (c)

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