Update: On August 31, six months after Senator Cathleen Galgiani introduced the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, SB 1249, in the California State Legislature, the bill was unanimously passed by the state assembly.
“I’m proud of California lawmakers for moving science, industry, and ethics forward today,” Senator Galgiani said in a statement following the 80-0 vote. “Cruelty-free cosmetics are good for business, safe for humans, and don’t harm animals.”
The law will officially go into effect on January 1, 2020, after which it will be illegal for cosmetic companies to knowingly sell any cosmetic or personal-hygiene product in California if any component has been tested on animals.
This story was originally published on February 27, 2018.
The international fight against animal testing in the cosmetics industry has been slow and arduous, a battle of baby steps — one forward, another back. Nearly 40 global economies, including the European Union, have fully outlawed the inhumane practice, but the United States still isn’t one of them. And beyond that, there's the gray area of supposedly "cruelty-free" brands that continue to sell in lucrative markets like China, where animal testing isn't just legal, but mandatory. It's tricky business, and more consumers than ever are growing savvy to the cause and ditching shadier brands for those that are confirmed cruelty-free.
But if pressure from consumers alone won't be enough to end animal testing in the United States, legislature is the natural next step. This month, Democratic Senator Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, California, introduced the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, SB 1249, in the California State Legislature to prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the state.
The bill, sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and supported by Cruelty Free International and Lush Cosmetics, proposes making it "unlawful for any cosmetic manufacturer to knowingly import or sell any cosmetic, including personal hygiene products such as deodorant, shampoo, or conditioner, in California if the final product or any component of the product was tested on animals" by 2020, or risk being fined.
"California has long been a leader in promoting modern alternatives to animal tests," Senator Galgiani said in a statement. "Inaction at the federal level compels California to lead the way in ensuring a cruelty-free cosmetics market for its citizens by barring any new ingredients or cosmetics that are tested on animals." Founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation Judie Mancuso pointed to the success of the EU's 2013 initiative as all the more reason why the same rules should be enacted in the US. She said, "This policy is tried and true as the European Union implemented a similar law over 5 years ago and the sky didn’t fall."
In 2000, California became the first state to ban animal testing whenever alternative methods are available; this bill, if passed, would take it one step further by banning the sales of any cosmetics that have been tested on animals in any stage of the manufacturing process. It's a tall order, but in today's climate, where more and more people are demanding their beauty products come cruelty-free, it just might have the power to turn the tides.