WASHINGTON—Personal care giant Unilever has announced its support for the #BeCrueltyFree campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics across the globe within five years. Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund lead the #BeCrueltyFree campaign. Unilever’s support includes 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 TRESemmé, 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 organizations 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.

HSUS Vice President for Animal Research Issues Kathleen Conlee said: “We commend Unilever for making this commitment to ending cosmetic animal testing once and for all. We look forward to working with them to stop this unnecessary cruelty in the United States and across the globe and urge all cosmetics companies to join us in making cosmetic animal testing a thing of the past.”

“This is a tipping point in the fight to finally ban new animal testing of cosmetics and their ingredients and we applaud Unilever for throwing their weight behind this legislation in the U.S. and beyond,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We have been working decades for this moment which will end this use of hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide and we urge other companies to join Unilever in this quest.”

The new collaboration will include:

  • Unilever’s support for passage of the U.S. Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2790), which would prohibit both domestic animal testing for cosmetics as well as the sale of cosmetics that have undergone any form of new animal testing after the ban comes into effect, 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 the Humane Society family of organizations 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.”

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 us 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.”

Across the globe, lawmakers in 37 countries so far have already enacted legislation to fully or partially ban animal testing for cosmetics. HSI played a key role in securing enactment of the final phase of the EU ban in 2013, and in subsequent victories in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, and seven states in Brazil. Today HSI and its partners are driving forward legislative efforts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and in the United States via HSUS and HSLF.

Last month, California became the first state in the United States to prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. As the world’s fifth largest economy, California’s decision to remove animal-tested cosmetics from its store shelves will no doubt have a huge impact and highlights the need and urgency for Congress to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act, federal legislation that would end the production and sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the United States.

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 force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months. These tests inflict considerable pain and distress, which can include blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding, 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.

  • Unilever's press release is here.
  • Unilever’s position on alternative approaches to animal testing (October 2018) is available here (PDF).

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