Imagine you’re trapped in a cage. You’re helpless, you’re scared, and you have no idea where you are. You’ve been taken and receive sprays of chemicals to the face on a daily basis causing you agonising pain. This is what animals face every day in the cosmetics industry. Beauty’s dirty little secret.
Animal testing has been used for years in the cosmetics industry to test their products to make sure they are safe to use. However yesterday that changed. The Cosmetics Directive in Europe makes it the first zone in the world to ban animal testing. One of the reasons this issue is so close to my heart is because I work for LUSH, one of the few cosmetic companies that do not condone testing on animals. LUSH are stringent with this fact. If their supplier deals with animal tested products in any way, shape, or form, (even in other industries) LUSH encourages them to change their ways or uses another supplier. This sheer number of companies that sell animal-tested products is astonishing. The Body Shop for instance may not test on animals but the company they are owned by, L’Oreal, does, meaning all the profits go to a company that condones this cruelty.
However, today changes that with a new EU Directive. EU directives come from the European Union and lay down legislation that must be followed. Whilst Member States are able to decide just how they will enforce the new laws they must adhere to them. On the 11th March 2013 the Cosmetics Directive finally came into force. Public pressure to enforce stricter legislation has been on-going since the 1980s. LUSH launched a graphic animal testing campaign (This video contains strong images but you can view it here) and received thousands of signatures from the public against animal testing, and the campaign has even had celebrity support from Leona Lewis, Ricky Gervais, and Ke$ha.
Campaigners have been battling against delays which have meant for 30 years legislation has been pushed back. It is a well-known fact that sending your case through the EU can take years. This is something which many people think needs to be addressed. In Britain, whilst the Parliament is supposed to have sovereignty, the EU does often act as a higher power. Just as US citizens would send their grievances to the Supreme Court, so too do European Union members send theirs to a higher power. The 11th March 2013 marks the day that animal tested products cannot be marketed in the EU anymore following the Commission on Health and Consumer policies finding that “the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing’. This long process shows as least one advantage to sending legislation to Europe, if you cannot make headway in your own country’s government there are alternatives. However, one thing this system suffers with is loopholes. While The Cosmetics Directive is a huge success for campaigners in the industry, it only covers “tests that are conducted specifically for cosmetics purposes” meaning that cosmetics ingredients come under the jurisdiction of the REACH chemical legislation. In 2007 REACH legislation, which stated that animals could only be tested if there was no alternative, promised to update a set list of alternatives to animal testing. This has not been updated since it was first written and since then many alternatives have come into force, which worries LUSH (you can view a full video with their reasons here).
The industry knows there is still a long way to go, but with the help of the public campaigner to their local politicians and with the help of successful campaigns it is possible to envisage a future where, as Michelle Thew, chief executive of Cruelty Free International said, animal testing is “no longer the ugly face of the beauty industry”.
Ellie Clifford, A2 Politics Student.