There is no testing of cosmetics involving animals conducted in Australia. However, the majority of cosmetic products sold here will contain ingredients that will have been tested on animals in another country at some time. Cosmetic products include make-up and skin-care products as well as soaps, shower gels, deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes, some sunscreens and similar products.
All new ingredients in cosmetics products are required by law to be tested for their safety – many of these safety assessments continue to require data obtained from testing on animals. The need to conduct animal testing can be avoided if companies stick to old formulations, or to combinations of ingredients that have previously been assessed as safe to use.
Campaigns in other countries have resulted in the phasing out of the use of animals to test both final cosmetics products and their ingredients: in the UK both types of testing have been banned since 1998, and in the EU since 2009. Since March 2013, the marketing of cosmetics which have been newly tested on animals has been banned in the EU, meaning that cosmetic companies are no longer able to avoid the EU testing ban by carrying out the testing in other countries.
In August 2013, the Australian Labor Party made a commitment to run a national consultation on phasing out the importation, manufacture, sale and advertising of cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients tested on animals. The consultation process commenced in July 2014 and ran until the 29th of August 2014.
In March 2014, the Greens introduced the End Cruel Cosmetics Bill 2014 into the Australian Parliament. The Bill would ban both the sale, and the importation from other countries, of cosmetics that have been newly tested on animals. This bill remains under consideration by the Senate at the time of writing. More recently, the Australian Labor Party introduced the Ethical Cosmetics Bill 2016, designed to achieve the same ends.
While cosmetic products continue to be developed and marketed in Australia that have used animal tests to satisfy the regulatory requirements, RSPCA Australia recommends that consumers only buy products supplied by companies operating a cruelty-free policy. There are three important criteria for such a policy:
- The company manufacturing the cosmetic product does not originate, endorse or finance any form of testing on animals. This includes testing by the company themselves or through contractors at any stage of product development, production or marketing.
- Their cosmetics must not contain ingredients tested on animals by or on behalf of the cosmetics industry, after a fixed cut-off date. This means the company uses only established ingredients which need no further animal testing.
- For those companies that manufacture other chemical products, their policy includes a commitment to take reasonable steps to achieve a reduction in, and eventual ending of, animal use in regulatory testing and product development. Funding research into humane alternatives to animal testing is one way to help achieve this.
RSPCA Australia is campaigning in partnership with the UK RSPCA to encourage global cosmetics companies to adopt these policies. If you would like to join the campaign and help end the use of animal testing of cosmetics globally, please take action through RSPCA Australia’s Makeover the World campaign.