This month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Humane Cosmetics Act (VHCA) into law. Introduced by Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Kaye Kory, the VHCA will ban the testing of new cosmetics on animals and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics across the state starting on January 1, 2022. Virginia is the fourth state to sign a cosmetic animal testing ban into law.   

“This fantastic news illustrates a growing momentum in efforts to end unnecessary testing on animals in the United States and around the world for products like shampoos, mascara and lipstick,” Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), said. “Consumers are scanning labels and demanding products free of animal testing, cosmetics companies are listening to them and changing their practices, and lawmakers are solidifying these changes into permanent policy.”

Animal-testing bans gain momentum 

California became the first state to ban cosmetic animal testing when it passed the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (SB 1249) in 2018. The legislation prohibits the sale of cosmetics that are tested on animals after January 1, 2020 with two exceptions: that animal testing would be allowed if a cosmetic product or ingredient required testing by the United States Food and Drug Administration due to a health concern, and as a regulatory compliance imposed by a foreign authority (a provision that will expire by January 2023). In June 2019, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law The Nevada Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act (SB 197), which also prohibits the sale of any cosmetic product that is tested on animals after January 1, 2020. Shortly thereafter, in August 2019, Illinois passed SB 241 into law, effectively banning the statewide sale of cosmetic products and ingredients tested on animals after January 1, 2020. Six other states—namely, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New York, and Oregon—are considering similar bans. 

In 2019, bipartisan politicians, including vegan Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced the Humane Cosmetics Act to ban cosmetic animal testing nationwide, as well as prohibit the import of cosmetics tested on animals from countries worldwide. Currently, more than 900 companies—including 600 members of national trade association Personal Care Products Council (PCPC)—officially endorse the Humane Cosmetics Act, which HSLF anticipates will soon be reintroduced in the current Congress. 

“Cosmetics animal testing is simply not needed to ensure the safety of cosmetics for human use. Each year, thousands of animals endure harsh testing methods, including having chemicals dripped into their eyes or rubbed onto their skin, after which they are killed. But there are thousands of ingredients already available for companies to create great products without any new testing, animal or otherwise,” Admunson said. “In the case of new ingredients, many non-animal test methods have been, and continue to be, developed that are as effective—or even more effective—than animal tests have been.”

Worldwide, nearly 40 counties have passed legislation to prohibit or limit the testing of cosmetics on animals, including Australia, Guatemala, and Turkey.

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