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March 12, 2012

New EPA-L’Oréal Partnership Could Help End Animal Testing for Cosmetics

Subjecting animals to painful tests for tubes of lipstick or mascara cannot be justified, ethically or scientifically. But thousands of cosmetics lining the shelves in U.S. stores contain substances tested on rabbits, mice, and other animals. An important new research collaboration could finally bring the U.S. one step closer to eliminating these tests altogether.

At a joint press conference today, supported by The HSUS and our affiliates Humane Society International and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Environmental Protection Agency and The L’Oréal Group announced a plan to work together to evaluate non-animal methods to test substances used in cosmetics.

RabbitIn addition to being cruel, current animal tests in use are simply not effective. With a drug failure rate of more than 90 percent due in large part to species differences, and tens of thousands of inadequately assessed chemicals, it’s urgent that we find more efficient and human-relevant methods to test substances for safety.

This new plan will use the EPA’s non-animal chemical evaluation tool, Toxicity Forecaster, or ToxCast. ToxCast, which includes more than 700 different tests that have already been used to evaluate hundreds of other chemicals, applies the information from these tests to profile chemical activity in terms of potential biological activity—effects on living cells. The partnership with L’Oréal will expand the use of this evaluation tool to substances used in cosmetics for the first time.

L’Oréal, the largest beauty and cosmetics company in the world, has been involved for years in developing non-animal safety tests, and is providing the EPA with $1.2 million in collaborative research funding and access to cosmetic ingredient safety data. When this research is complete, the EPA will compare the ToxCast results to the L’Oréal data to determine if the results are appropriate to use in the safety assessment of chemicals in cosmetics.

The HSUS and HSI have pressed for the development and acceptance of non-animal methods of chemical evaluation in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere, and HSLF’s work contributed to increased funding for EPAs ToxCast program. Right now, the European Union is preparing to phase out all cosmetics with ingredients that have been tested on animals, with a complete ban by April 2013. As a result, cosmetic companies that sell their products in European Union countries are urgently seeking non-animal approaches to replace their existing animal testing methods.

Thanks to this new collaboration and other efforts, we look forward to the day when all cosmetics will be cruelty-free. In the meantime, please take the pledge to only purchase cosmetic and household products that have not been tested on animals.

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