Blog on recent updates with animal testing on cosmetics in UK

Testing on animals for cosmetics in the UK has been banned - yes? Well think again.


As many of you know we were very excited to announce earlier this year that we had obtained our Leaping Bunny Certificate.

Why bother, you may think, as animal testing in the UK has been banned for many years – correct? Well think again. Sadly, we are on shifting sands.


In a letter sent to Cruelty Free International in August 2021, the Home Office admitted that it now allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK. Documents disclosed in subsequent court proceedings in January 2023 then revealed for the first time that the Home Office secretly abandoned the ban on animal testing for cosmetics back in 2019.


Earlier this year, Cruelty Free International undertook a Judicial Review (a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body). The high court judge Mr Justice Linden was critical of the way the Home Office had conducted itself during this review. The judge also said the Home Office had been ‘less than transparent’ in its communications with Cruelty Free International, in delaying its reply for nine months and even then, failing to disclose that the policy had been changed two and a half years earlier. It was three and a half years before the Home Office began to tell stakeholders. He stopped short however of saying that the Home Office had acted unlawfully.


Suddenly to us at An’du the leaping bunny logo is more than a third-party accreditation of our own Cruelty Free logo but an official body prepared to campaign for animal rights, not in far flung lands but on our own doorstep.


Following the outcome of the Judicial Review, Cruelty Free International called upon the Government to immediately reinstate the policy ban. As a result of this, the Home Secretary Suella Braveman MP has now announced a partial reinstatement of the UK’S ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the UK. This partial ban prevents animal testing for ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics – but this, sadly, only covers approximately 20% of the total number of chemicals used in cosmetics. The previous ban, introduced in 1998 and confirmed by the government in 2015, also covered ‘substances used exclusively or predominantly as cosmetic product ingredients’.


Without these campaigns, as is often the case, the path of least resistance is followed, the result being that such testing creeps back in. In my mind, the Government was aware how unpopular this would be with the UK public which is why it was not announced in 2019. A poll carried out by YouGov in autumn 2021, showed that 85% of people in the UK find it unacceptable to test cosmetics ingredients on animals. The Government reluctantly revealed its actions only when pressure was applied. 


It’s up to individuals to either campaign on their own or throw their lot in with seasoned campaigners who can speak on their behalf (or do both!)


The Government has put out a statement saying that it is taking action to seek alternatives to animal testing. Cruelty Free International has long called for such a transition to non-animal methods and will maintain pressure on the Government to ensure that the UK now develops a robust action plan.


Cruelty Free International provides a voice for animals in laboratories all around the world – and here in the UK. To me this is why our logo is so important. Not only does it reassure you that your cosmetic/ personal care product has not been tested on animals, but that there are organizations prepared to campaign, on your behalf, for animal rights.


Go Leaping Bunny and flex those muscles, we all need you!

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