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UK reinstates ban on animal testing for cosmetic ingredients

By Rebecca Hitchon | 18 May 2023 | Movers & Shakers, News

Animal Lab Bunny

On 17 May 2023, the UK government issued a statement announcing that no new licences will be granted for animal testing of chemicals exclusively intended to be used as ingredients in cosmetic products.

The ban follows pressure from animal rights campaigners, after a judicial review brought about by animal protection organisation, Cruelty Free International. It revealed that since 2019, the government had been granting licences for animal testing of cosmetic ingredients in line with European Union chemical rules, despite leaving the EU in 2020.

The statement to parliament, made by home secretary, Suella Braverman, explains that the UK ban on animal testing for consumer safety of cosmetics and their ingredients, in place since 1998, remains in force. It also expresses a commitment to replacing animals used in science, with solutions from the UK science industry.

It reads in part:

“Under chemicals regulations (the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regime, or REACH), chemicals manufacturers and importers must demonstrate the hazards to human health and the environment of the chemicals they place on the market. This includes chemicals used as ingredients in cosmetics. In some cases, where there are no validated alternatives, this has in the past required testing on animals as a last resort.

“The REACH regime is separate from, and has a different purpose to, the consumer cosmetics regulations, which is why it has been possible that a chemical used in cosmetics production may be required to be tested on animals. This has been reflected in the issuing of a small number of time-limited licences between 2019 and 2022.”

“The government recognises the public concern around the testing on animals of chemicals used as ingredients in cosmetics, and the new opportunities available to us to depart from the EU testing regime. I can confirm, therefore, that from today (17 May) no new licences will be granted for animal testing of chemicals that are exclusively intended to be used as ingredients in cosmetics products.”

Dr Emma Meredith. Image courtesy of

Welcoming the ban, Dr Emma Meredith, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA), says: “The announcement from the UK government is an exciting and crucial step towards the ultimate aim of ensuring that no animals are used for any chemicals safety testing in any industry.

“It provides further opportunity for the UK cosmetics industry to continue to show leadership in new approaches to safety testing that do not require animals.

“I am delighted that this action will end the uncertainty caused by different legal frameworks for chemicals, leaving us in no doubt that the cosmetics industry does not test on animals.”

“We are pleased to see that the government is listening to the British public in reinstating a partial ban on animal testing for ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics, to protect consumer, worker and environmental safety, and actively seeking alternatives to animal testing,” comments Cruelty Free International. “However, ingredients used ‘exclusively’ in cosmetics amount to only about 20% of the total number of chemicals used in cosmetics. The previous ban, confirmed by the government in 2015, also covered ‘substances used exclusively or predominantly as cosmetic product ingredients’.

“We urge the government to now take the next step by reinstating the full ban on animal testing for cosmetics.”

Dr Julia Baines. Image courtesy of

“This is very welcome news, but the government must go a step further by implementing a full and immediate ban on animal testing, and recalling all licences currently in place allowing cosmetic ingredients to be tested on animals,” adds Dr Julia Baines, science policy manager at animal rights organisation, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

“A change in the law is also required to finally close the loophole that allows cosmetics ingredients to be forced down the throats of sensitive rabbits, rats and other animals. Only by safeguarding the long-term future of the cosmetics testing ban can the government make amends for the results of its current policy.”