animal testing

California leads in taking major steps in cruelty-free beauty. On Jan. 1, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, which bans stores from selling cosmetics tested on animals, was enacted.

Though a number of foreign countries had banned the practice, including the European Union in 2013, the initiative marks the first U.S. state to do so. Signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, the legislation was authored by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani and endorsed by more than 6,500 individuals, as well as 150 cosmetic companies.

“It states that everything that’s on the shelves, anything new that comes to market shall be cruelty free,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of the Social Compassion in Legislation, which advocates for the welfare of animals. The organization, which brought the bill to Galgiani, was a sponsor alongside the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit whose mission is to “save and improve” human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical research.

The legislation makes it unlawful for a manufacturer to “import for profit or sell” any cosmetic — makeup, skin care, body care and hair care — that was developed using animal testing on or after Jan. 1. A violation of the law is punishable by an initial fine of $5,000, followed by $1,000 a day. There are exceptions to the law that include animal tests required by domestic and international government agencies.

“They are very narrow exceptions,” Mancuso said. “And Nevada and Illinois have followed suit.” The California law has inspired comparable legislation with Nevada’s Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, followed by a similar bill in Illinois, both signed in 2019 and also coming into effect on Jan. 1. “And now, we are discussing enforcement.”