Ban on cosmetic testing on animals

During the 2016 Election campaign, the Australian Government committed to introduce a ban on cosmetic testing on animals.

Page last updated: 06 June 2017

As part of the 2017-18 budget package, the Government will implement a ban on cosmetic testing on animals by:

  • Introducing legislation to enable a national ban on the use of new animal test data to support the introduction of chemicals used exclusively as cosmetic ingredients;
  • Working with states and territories to incorporate a testing ban through their respective legislation, triggered by changes to the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes; and
  • Working with the cosmetics industry, in consultation with key animal welfare stakeholders, to develop a voluntary code of practice on the sale of cosmetic products.

Legislation to enable the ban

The ban will be achieved through the new Australian Industrial Chemical Introduction Scheme (AICIS). It is proposed that the new scheme will come into effect on 1 July 2018. The bills that provide the new regulatory framework are currently before parliament.

This approach will ban the use of data derived from an animal tests conducted after 1 July 2018 to support the introduction of a chemical in a cosmetic. It also:

  • aligns with the approach taken in the European Union (EU), thereby ensuring the ongoing protection of health, worker safety and the environment and minimal impact to business
  • encourages the use of information from new methods that do not rely on the use of animals, for chemicals with any industrial use (including cosmetics)
  • continues to allow, for chemicals with industrial uses other than in cosmetics, the use of data from animal tests where necessary to protect human health and the environment
  • permits the submission of existing animal test data in limited circumstances where this is necessary to protect human health and the environment from known harmful effects of any chemical (including a cosmetic ingredient)
  • provides a transition period for industry to move to the new arrangements to commence 1 July 2018.

Based on historical data it is estimated that the ban will prohibit the use of animal testing for more than 99% of the cosmetics introduced into Australia. The remaining less than 1% are circumstances where these chemicals are also used in other industries and this information is critical to ensure we protect consumers, the public and the environment.

Future Consultations

Following the introduction of the primary legislation, stakeholders are now invited to participate in consultations to develop the supporting delegated legislation – this process is open until 12 July 2017. Further consultation information on the rules is available from the National Industrial Chemical Assessment Scheme reforms webpage.

Q&As

Why is the Government implementing a ban on cosmetic testing on animals?

The Government has received strong public support to introduce a ban on cosmetic testing on animals. This ensures that animal testing is only used as a last resort. This ban will bring Australia into line with the EU and other countries introducing a ban on cosmetic testing on animals.

Will the cosmetics that I’m currently using disappear from the shelves as a result of the ban?

No, cosmetics already existing on the market, and for which the safety is already established, are not affected by the ban. The ban will relate to new ingredients and products.

Will cosmetics still be safe to use?

Yes. Information must be provided that demonstrates the safety of a cosmetic ingredient. The legislation allows for a range of alternate data sources to be provided instead of animal test data.

This can include recognised international alternatives to animal tests, for example, tests validated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), computer based modelling and information from existing animal test data of a similar chemical.

Will the use of animal test data be accepted in certain situations?

Yes. Like the EU, the legislation allows for animal test data to be considered as a last resort, this is important to protect human health, worker safety and the environment.

How is this applied to ingredients that are also used for other purposes?

This ban will prohibit the use of animal test data for the majority of cosmetics introduced in Australia. The remainder of new cosmetic ingredients are those that are also introduced for use in other industries. Based on historical data it is estimated that less than 1% of these ‘multi-use’ cosmetic ingredients used animal test information to support their introduction.

In line with the original commitment, these ‘multi-use’ ingredients are excluded from the ban. To expand the scope of the ban beyond this:

  • would be inconsistent with other bans implemented internationally (for example the EU); and
  • could lead to human health and environmental safety issues as the development of alternative non-animal tests to ensure safety is ongoing.

How does the ban in the EU operate?

More than 80 % of the cosmetic products on Australian shelves are imported and a major proportion of these are introduced from countries in the EU. The EU prohibits the use of animal test data to support the safety of a cosmetic marketed in the EU, where the data has been generated in order to meet regulatory requirements for the marketing of cosmetics.

Animal test data on chemicals used solely in cosmetics is permitted to meet EU regulatory obligations for protection of workers and the environment. Animal testing is permitted to meet EU obligations for substances that are used for multiple purposes (i.e. not solely in cosmetics).

The diagram below illustrates how the EU and the Australian bans operate within each regulatory system:

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has released advice on the interaction between the EU Cosmetics Regulation and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation (REACH).

How common is the submission of animal test data to support the introduction of cosmetic chemicals?

The use of animal test data to support the introduction of cosmetic chemicals is decreasing. Cheaper non-animal alternatives have become increasingly available since the introduction of a ban in the EU.

Following the EU ban, which came into full effect in 2013, there has been:

  • a marked reduction in the use of animal test data for cosmetics chemicals
  • a similar reduction in the use of animal test data for cosmetic chemicals with other industrial uses (‘multi-use’ chemicals); and
  • no shift towards using cosmetic chemicals for other industrial uses to subvert the ban.

Key resources

Consultation Paper March 2017 (PDF 1371 KB)

Summary Views - First Round Consultations (PDF 124 KB)

Ban on cosmetic testing on animals background paper (PDF 418 KB)
Ban on cosmetic testing on animals background paper (Word 388 KB)

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