Beauty with a Conscience: California Leads Nation with Ban on Animal-Tested Cosmetics

Walk into any Sephora beauty store on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll feel the crush of hundreds of beauty addicts filling their baskets with the hottest makeup, skin care, and fragrance trends. Ask any sales person in Ulta or Sephora, and they’ll tell you one of the biggest trends is to buy organic and cruelty free. Beauty bloggers feature a post listing the skin care and beauty brands that do not test on animals. Kat Von D exemplifies how social consciousness and being vegan can be cool.

By January 1, 2020, Californian’s will be able to purchase the newest luxury eye cream, the perfect brick red lipstick, or that hot new smoky eye palette with complete confidence that they have not been tested on animals. Every item will be cruelty-free.

This industry game changer happened after the California legislature’s unanimous passing of bill AB 1249 (Authored by Senator Cathleen Galgiani), which prohibits the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. The statewide effort to make it all happen was co-sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The new law provides for penalty up to $500 for the first violation, and up to $1,000 for each subsequent violation. However, the new law does not apply to a cosmetic, or any component of the cosmetic, tested on animals prior to the January 1, 2020 effective date.

In case you don’t know what’s involved, below are a few of the tests on animals:

  • Draize: Liquid chemicals are put into the animal’s eye while their head is held in a stock. This is done to estimate the extent a chemical will damage the eye.

  • Skin irritants: Chemicals are put on bare or raw skin without anesthetics to determine how dermal application affects the body.

  • Oral toxicity: Animals are force-fed chemicals to the point of death to determine lethal doses.

  • LD50: Lethal Dose 50 percent, which estimates the dosages resulting in death for 50% of animals in a test group.

The argument for animal testing has long been based on the premise that animal testing is necessary to establish the effects on humans. Thankfully, California’s legislature was willing to engage with the scientific community and animal activists to understand that this practice is both unnecessary and cruel. Breakthroughs in science and computer patterning provide more accurate predictions about the effects of various chemicals and substances than animal testing on its best day. Moreover, animal testing has always been based on the now discredited presumption that humans and animals respond the same or similarly to various stimuli. Yet, anyone who’s ever owned or interacted with a dog knows that foods consumed by humans without ill effect can be carcinogenic to dogs.

I’m excited that California is taking this big step and am hopeful that this law motivates other states to abolish animal cruelty in the beauty industry.

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