California Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Animal-Tested Cosmetics

By Rowan Strand / September 7, 2018

State lawmakers in California passed a bill this week to ban the sale of cosmetic products that have been tested on animals, or contain ingredients that were tested on animals.

California’s state legislature unanimously voted to pass the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, also called SB 1249, on Friday. The Personal Care Products Council, a trade association that represents cosmetics and personal care companies, backed the proposal, as did cruelty-free Lush Cosmetics and animal rights groups including PETA.

Under the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, beauty and personal care companies would have until January 1, 2020, to change their testing methods if they don’t want to be barred from selling products in California.

California state Senator Cathleen Galgiani, who introduced the proposal in February, told Refinery29 that she was "proud of California lawmakers for moving science, industry, and ethics forward” with the bill’s passage.

"Cruelty-free cosmetics are good for business, safe for humans, and don’t harm animals,” Galgiani said.

They’re also gathering steam among consumers. Although most natural and organic brands are already cruelty-free, more and more traditional brands are committing to it as well. But there are a few snags for any cosmetic company that is considering the leap. In China, for example, animal testing is legally mandated for imported cosmetics and personal care products. Companies have to either make an exception or turn away from a massively lucrative market. Estée Lauder, for instance, notes in a statement that it "does not test on animals and we never ask others to do so on our behalf” — but "if a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment, an exception can be made.”

In other markets, however, being cruelty-free can actually give companies a leg up on the competition. In 2013, the European Union banned the import and sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. India and Israel have similar laws in place.

And even in China, there may be change in the air. In 2017, the Chinese government moved toward recognizing cosmetic safety data from testing methods that don’t involve animals.

When Galgiani introduced the California legislation in February, she noted that the state "has long been a leader in promoting modern alternatives to animal tests.” Whether California’s cruelty-free legislation is a precedent or an exception has yet to be seen, but it’s certainly a first in the United States and provides a model for the 49 other states to pursue similar initiatives.