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Oregon lawmakers may ban sales of cosmetics made with animal tests


Oregon lawmakers may ban sales of cosmetics made with animal tests

Mar 23, 2023 | 6:56 pm ET
By Ben Botkin
Oregon lawmakers may ban sales of cosmetics made with animal tests
Cosmetic manufacturers may be banned from selling products made with animal tests, including lipstick, creams and other beauty products, under an Oregon proposal in the Legislature. (Getty Images)

It may soon be illegal to put lipstick on a pig – and then sell the cosmetic in Oregon.

State lawmakers are considering a ban on sales of cosmetics manufactured or developed with animal tests. House Bill 3213, discussed Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee, has wide support among animal lovers and cosmetics dealers, who say the proposal is an opportunity for Oregon to be a leader in “cruelty free cosmetics.” 

The bill would prohibit a manufacturer from selling cosmetics produced or developed on or after Jan. 1, 2024 that relied upon animal tests. Violators would face a fine up to $5,000 on the first day of the violation and $1,000 a day afterwards. The bill has a committee vote scheduled for March 30. 

The cosmetics industry has a history of relying upon animal tests to determine safety for humans, though major operators are now abandoning the practice, saying those tests are not reliable or necessary. Brand-name companies that no longer use animal tests include Aveda, LUSH, Bath & Body Works, Tom’s of Maine, Alba Botanica and The Body Shop. 

“We have always believed that animal testing for cosmetics is a crude model that is not fit for modern times,” Carleen Pickard, advocacy and activism manager of Lush Cosmetics, said in submitted testimony. 

The Canadian-based homemade cosmetics company has five shops in Oregon. 

“Sections of the cosmetics industry, and the scientists that service them, are wedded to this outdated practice despite overwhelming public opinion and consumer desire for cruelty-free products,” Pickard said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees cosmetics safety and labeling. This includes skin moisturizers, perfumes, fingernail polish, eye and facial makeup and, of course, lipstick. The federal agency allows animal testing, though cosmetics manufacturers aren’t required to do so.

Animal advocates and cosmetics manufacturers are critical of the practice.

“In traditional animal tests, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats have substances forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes, or smeared onto their skin before they are killed,” Vicki Katrinak, director of animal research and testing for the Humane Society, wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “These test methods are unreliable predictors of human safety. Different species can respond differently when exposed to the same chemicals. Consequently, animal tests may under- or over-estimate real-world hazards to people. In addition, results from animal tests can be quite variable and difficult to interpret.”

Under the bill, there would be exceptions, including if the production happened before the law took effect. This means everything on store shelves could still be sold. Animal tests would also be allowed if necessary for a health issue. 

In 2018, California banned the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, the first state to do so. Now, 10 states in all have passed bans, including Nevada, according to the Humane Society.