With the aid of consumer demand and legislative action, the cosmetic industry seems poised to undergo its own makeover in the near future. Cosmetic manufacturers have long faced the angst of animal welfare groups protesting the use of animals to test the potential health risks of cosmetics and their ingredients. Cosmetic manufacturers have responded to the public backlash by pointing out that in light of consumer pressure to offer safe and improved products, cosmetic testing on animals allows manufacturers to satisfy consumer demand while simultaneously protecting human health by enabling manufacturers to establish the safety of their products. Additionally, in most countries manufacturers are required by trading standards and consumer protection laws to show their products are not toxic and dangerous to public health.
Despite these arguments presented by the cosmetic manufacturers, recently, a number of countries have responded to the controversy surrounding cosmetic testing on animals by banning the practice altogether. The Netherlands, Belgium and the UK were among the first countries to ban the use of animals for cosmetic testing. In 2003, the European Parliament went even further, not only placing a total ban on the use of animals for cosmetic testing in Europe effective as of 2009, but also calling for an import ban on all cosmetic products that have been tested on animals. The import ban has been delayed until 2013 for products for which no alternative to animal testing has yet been discovered. If the EU import ban is successfully enforced, this could compel cosmetic manufacturers to adopt alternative testing methods or consequently be shut out of the EU market.
The United States also appears to be following the animal-friendly trend when it comes to cosmetic testing. Currently, neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission require the use of animals for safety testing. In addition, recent legislation that passed the New York Assembly prohibits eye and skin irritancy tests of cosmetics conducted on animals. If the Governor approves the legislation, cosmetic manufacturers could see a ripple effect among state legislatures banning the use of animals for cosmetic testing.
It is likely that more cosmetics companies will soon be forced to adopt more animal-friendly methods to not only comply with any new legislation that arises in the wake of New York’s recent move, but also to satisfy its customers demands. A survey by the American Medical Association found that seventy-five percent of Americans are against using animals in cosmetic testing. Given the consumer stance against animal testing, many cosmetic manufacturers and retailers have found it advantageous to switch to animal-friendly testing methods and in doing so have distinguished their brands in the marketplace. Cosmetic manufacturers such as Avon, Noxell, Redken, Paul Mitchell, Mary Kay, Revlon and Faberge have turned to alternative testing methods that employ the use of human skin cell cultures, corneas from eye banks, protein compounds resembling the composition of the human eye, and sophisticated computer modeling. A number of companies have adopted and branded their products with the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, an internationally recognized non-animal testing standard launched in 1996 by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics.