Last week, Washington became the 12th U.S. state to pass a law to ban the sale of cosmetics newly tested on animals. This is a win for all the guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and rats who will never have to suffer through painful testing, including having cosmetics chemicals forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes or smeared onto their skin. If the animals don’t die during the experiments, they are typically killed by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation without any pain relief. 

Washington’s ban follows similar laws passed in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Virginia. These state laws closely mirror the provisions of the federal Humane Cosmetics Act, a bill we have championed for years; we urge U.S. House Energy and Commerce Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to move the federal bill forward, especially now that her home state has passed such a law.

Already, 45 countries have passed laws to limit or prohibit animal testing for cosmetic products, many in direct response to our global campaign. 

It’s not only immensely cruel to force animals to suffer through these tests, but also totally unnecessary. Thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use can already be used for formulating products such as mascaras and shampoos. Not only that, but modern technologies have also given us advanced options for testing: Human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models can replace outdated animal tests. We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it until the paradigm finally shifts: These non-animal technologies are often faster, less expensive and more reliable predictors of human safety

Through passing this ban, Washington lawmakers acted in a way that is consistent with their citizens’ interests in avoiding being complicit in animal cruelty when purchasing cosmetic products and in promoting testing practices that are more likely to keep them safe.

Many cosmetics companies are already embracing our vision for a humane world where animal testing for cosmetics is eradicated, including industry heavyweights Lush, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Avon and L’Oreal who have stood alongside us in our global campaign. In addition, several companies selling cosmetics in Washington provided testimony in support of the state’s ban, including Lush Cosmetics, rue Santé and Thrive Causemetics. 

It is especially significant that the Humane Cosmetics Act has the endorsement of the Personal Care Products Council, the trade association representing 90% of the U.S. cosmetics industry, in addition to more than 400 companies that have individually signed on to support this legislation. In a real sense, public policy in the U.S. trails behind the philosophy and actions of the corporate sector involved.

At this point, the question is no longer about whether cosmetics animal testing should end in the U.S.—it’s now as simple as, what are we waiting for? 

Tell your legislators to support the Humane Cosmetics Act. Support our work to end cosmetics animal testing and other forms of animal cruelty by making a donation

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.