Unilever backs Humane Society International global effort to ban animal testing for cosmetics

Unilever backs Humane Society International global effort to ban animal testing for cosmetics

Personal care giant Unilever has announced its support for the #BeCrueltyFree campaign led by Humane Society International aimed at banning animal testing for cosmetics across the globe within five years, including 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 TRESemme, 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 organisations 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.”

The new collaboration with HSI will include:

  • Unilever’s support for strengthening Australia’s proposed cosmetic animal testing data ban within the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 and associated rules to ensure that the ban fully prohibits the use of new animal test data for cosmetics sold in Australia, 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, 37 countries so far have already 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 and Viet Nam, and in the United States via the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund.

HSI predicts that the next country in line to ban cosmetics cruelty could be Australia, with the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 under negotiation in the federal Senate, including proposed amendments to the ban. A sticking point in the bill and associated regulatory rules is that the current wording of the ban would mean that cosmetic ingredients used in other products would not be covered, leaving consumers exposed to buying newly animal tested cosmetics even after the ban comes into force. HSI is currently negotiating with Senators and Government to ensure unnecessary ban exemptions are removed so that new animal-test data is banned for any and all cosmetic uses of chemical introductions, not just some.

Australians wishing to support strengthening the proposed ban are urged to contact the Government.

HSI Campaign Manager for #BeCrueltyFree Australia, Hannah Stuart, said: It’s time for Australia to join the growing global trend towards eliminating new animal testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients. With Unilever’s support, we look forward to celebrating a robust ban that ensures Australia is the next country to truly say NO to cruel and outdated cosmetics animal testing.”


  • 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 oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness, or the amount of a chemical that causes death. These tests inflict considerable pain and distress, which can include blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding and 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.
  • Australia’s Industrial Chemical Bill 2017 and draft Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules 2018 would introduce a ban on the use of new data on cosmetic ingredients derived from animal tests, effectively banning animal testing on new chemicals being introduced to Australia for use in cosmetics sold in Australia. However, as currently worded the proposed ban will only apply to those chemicals that are introduced solely for a cosmetic end-use. Cosmetic chemicals that are also introduced for other purposes, as is very common, will not be caught by the ban. This will open a loophole for newly animal tested chemicals to enter the Australian cosmetic market which we hope will be closed through necessary strengthening of the proposed ban measures.
  • A poll by Nexus Research on behalf of Humane Research Australia found an overwhelming majority of Australians (85 percent) oppose using animals in the development of cosmetics with a large majority (81 percent) supporting a national ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals – that’s four out of five Australians who support a national ban. Similarly, an opinion poll by Roy Morgan Research showed that ‘Not Tested on Animals’ was one of the top three features looked for by Australian female consumers when buying cosmetics.

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