What Does the Safe Cosmetics Act Mean for Animal Testing?

What Does the Safe Cosmetics Act Mean for Animal Testing?

Recently I have been seeing a lot of cruelty free and vegan brands promoting the Safe Cosmetics Act being run by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. This Act was first discussed on Logical Harmony in the post Animal Testing May Soon Be Required By Law in the United States. The primary goal of the Safe Cosmetics Act is to reduce the use of chemicals and toxins in cosmetics in the United States. To do this, published research shows that up to 11.5 million animals would be required to test and retest finished products and ingredients under the Safe Cosmetics Act for safety, reversing a decades-long decline in animal testing for cosmetics.

What does the Safe Cosmetics Act really mean for animal testing? Keep reading to find out how animal testing laws in the United States would be effected if the Safe Cosmetics Act were to pass.

In the FAQ from the Safe Cosmetics Act, the following is stated –

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics does not support unnecessary, repeated or senseless testing of toxic chemicals on animals, and supports all efforts to seek a methodology that would replace animal testing while ensuring that safety testing meets the most rigorous standards to protect human health and the health of the planet. We believe that the overall goal of reducing animal testing while protecting human and wildlife health can be achieved with more efficient testing protocols, a reduction in unnecessary or duplicate testing, ongoing research of available alternatives, and better dissemination of existing studies.

This statement makes it appear as if the Safe Cosmetics Act is against animal testing. While it is true that part of the long-term potential effects of this Act has the potential to reduce animal testing, this would be a side effect of moving towards more natural ingredients in the market place. It is not a primary mission of the Safe Cosmetics Act.

The official summary of the act as it appears on Open Congress is as follows –

Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 – Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the regulation of cosmetics by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Requires any brand owner engaged in bringing a cosmetic to market for use in the United States to register annually and pay a fee for oversight and enforcement of this Act. Requires the Secretary to:
(1) establish labeling requirements,
(2) establish a safety standard that provides a reasonable certainty of no harm from exposure to a cosmetic or an ingredient in a cosmetic and that protects the public from any known or anticipated adverse health effects associated with the cosmetic or ingredient, and
(3) issue guidance prescribing good manufacturing practices for cosmetics and ingredients. Requires brand owners to submit to the Secretary safety data for the ingredients listed on the cosmetic label and the cosmetic itself, which shall be published in a database. Requires the Secretary to review and evaluate the safety of cosmetics and ingredients of cosmetics that are marketed in interstate commerce, including nanotechnology and contaminants of concern linked to severe acute reactions or long-term adverse health effects. Requires the Secretary, based on an initial review and evaluation, to establish three lists for ingredients:
(1) a prohibited and restricted list,
(2) a safe without limits list, and
(3) a priority assessment list. Authorizes the Secretary to order a recall or cease of distribution for a cosmetic that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise in violation of the FFDCA. Requires reporting of any serious adverse event associated with cosmetics. Requires the Secretary to take action to minimize the use of animal testing of ingredients and cosmetics. Establishes an Interagency Council on Cosmetic Safety. Requires the Secretary of Labor to promulgate an occupational safety and health standard relating to cosmetics for professional use.

As you can see, the official summary does not include any statements about animal testing. What it does include is a lengthy section that states that the Secretary is required to review and evaluate the safety of cosmetics based on an initial review and evaluation.

According to an Altex Online First report that was published in January, 2014 (and reference in the post Animal Testing May Soon Be Required By Law in the United States), the Safe Cosmetics Act would actually call for a manadory increase in animal testing. In fact, published research shows that up to 11.5 million animals would be required to test and retest finished products and ingredients for safety, reversing a decades-long decline in animal testing for cosmetics.

The proposed Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 calls for a new evaluation program for cosmetic ingredients in the US, with the new assessments initially dependent on expanded animal testing. This paper considers possible testing scenarios under the proposed Act and estimates the number of test animals and cost under each scenario. It focuses on the impact for the first 10 years of testing, the period of greatest impact on animals and costs. The analysis suggests the first 10 years of testing under the Act could evaluate, at most, about 50% of ingredients used in cosmetics. Testing during this period would cost about $ 1.7-$ 9 billion and 1-11.5 million animals. By test year 10, alternative, high-throughput test methods under development are expected to be available, replacing animal testing and allowing rapid evaluation of all ingredients. Given the high cost in dollars and animal lives of the first 10 years for only about half of ingredients, a better choice may be to accelerate development of high-throughput methods. This would allow evaluation of 100% of cosmetic ingredients before year 10 at lower cost and without animal testing.”

Even Leaping Bunny, widely regarded as the toughest authority against animal testing, is against the Safe Cosmetics Act. You can read their press release with their thoughts here.

While we can all likely agree that we would like to see a reduction in the use of chemicals and toxins in cosmetics, an increase of animal testing is not the route to get there. This bill has seen limited support since being introduced into the House (the last action was taken in July of 2013 according to Open Congress), but the amount of support the Safe Cosmetic Act is still receiving from brands is overwhelming.

What can you do? This is a case when getting vocal can really have an impact!

  • Write to your state Congress and Senate representatives. Let them know your thoughts on the issue, that you oppose this act, and hope they will as well.
  • Write to the Congress and State representatives that support the act. Let them know how you feel about this issue and that you are unhappy with their decision to support the act. You can find a list of representatives that support the act here.
  • Ask your favorite cruelty free brands what their stance is on the Safe Cosmetics Act. Let them know that supporting this act means losing you as a consumer. At the end of the day, your dollar goes a long way. Reach out to your favorite brands and inquire what their stance is. If they support the Safe Cosmetics Act, let them know that it would increase animal testing in the US and that you will no longer be purchasing from them because of their decision to support this act.
  • Spread awareness about what the Safe Cosmetics Act really means for animal testing. A lot of people simply are not aware that this act, if passed, would impact animal testing. Let people know that the Safe Cosmetics Act has an impact beyond the ingredients used by brands.

I urge everyone to use their voice on this issue. Spreading awareness and knowledge is the best way to keep this proposed act from moving forward in the US Government, but also to stop cruelty-free brands from supporting an act that would heavily impact their business.


  1. Use of natural ingredients wouldn’t reduce the testing needed under the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act. Natural ingredients would need the same safety tests under this act. Natural ingredients might actually have more testing, requiring more animals, because natural ingredients usually have bioactive components (because they come from living things). Ingredients with bioactive components usually have more testing, because bioactive components are more likely to interract with our bodies.

  2. The brands supporting it should be held responsible if the act passes. It will require animal testing in the U.S. Funny, I never thought we would become China. I reached out to Alima Pure recently and they sent me a link that this act will allow cosmetics to still be cruelty free and blah blah. They are seriously naive if they think this act is something good. The only reason they would need to test on more animals is they want to keep these chemicals IN the products, to claim they have been deemed as “safe.”

  3. This makes me so disappointed…especially because my very own Representative supports this bill. I have written to him many times about various animal issues, and always thought he supported the same things I do. Is it possible that they don’t even know the ramifications of this bill for animals? Also, how is it possible that Rep. Jim Moran supports this bill when he was the one who introduced legislation last year to ban animal testing all together?

    1. It’s completely possible and, I think, very likely that a lot of them do not realize it. It looks like Jim supported it before introducing his legislation. My guess is that he supported it and then realized what it would mean for animal testing. I’m not sure if they are able to change their support of the act or not.

        1. I think emailing your Representatives is the best option. Your vote has the biggest impact to them. Emailing others can’t hurt either, but may not be as impactful since you are not someone who’s vote they are trying to win.

  4. This honestly makes me sick. I thought it was going to have a huge impact – like, DECREASING the amount of animal testing, not increasing it!!! 11.5 million animals is a sick amount and I can’t believe how heartless people have gotten! Thank you so much for sharing, rest assured this girl will be acting!
    ~ Samantha

  5. Do the cruelty free brands that support this act not understand what it really means? Why are cruelty free brands supporting it!? Do you know of any brands that definitely support this so we can target them specifically?

    1. I have reached out to a few and some had no idea while others said that providing natural cosmetics was a bigger focus for their brand. I think that a lot of brands are just unaware. On paper, the act sounds great! Their FAQ statement about animal testing is not clear about the impact the act would have on animal testing practices either. While I do know of a couple of brands, I think that reaching out to the brands you already support and purchase is the best way to have an impact. There are definitely way more brands supporting it than I am aware of.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.