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Back to Cruelty? The Unexpected Reversal of the UK’s Animal Testing Ban

by Suzana Rose

May 12, 2023

We at Cruelty-Free Kitty are appalled by the government's recent decision to allow animal testing for makeup ingredients to resume after a 25-year ban. The policy change, which has been made to align with EU chemical rules, was revealed in a High Court ruling. As a result, more than 80 brands have expressed their dismay over the government's new position.

Spread the word.

We find it deeply concerning that, while animal testing for makeup or its ingredients had been completely banned in the UK since 1998, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) ruled in 2020 that companies need to test some ingredients used in cosmetics on animals to ensure they were safe for workers manufacturing the ingredients. Furthermore, since 2019, the government had been issuing licenses for animal testing of cosmetic ingredients in line with EU chemical rules, which it retained despite leaving the EU in 2020.

It's important to note that manufacturers still cannot undertake any animal testing to check the safety of makeup for consumers, as this should be done using other methods. However, the change in policy still allows for testing chemicals commonly found in foundations and concealers on animals such as rats.

READ MORE: Cruelty-Free 101: Testing Finished Products vs. Ingredients

Cruelty Free International (CFI), which brought the case to court, argued that this policy change was illegal and in breach of the animal testing ban for makeup and its ingredients that has been in place since 1998. Unfortunately, Mr. Justice Linden ruled in favor of the government, stating that the change in policy still met existing laws. He did, however, find it "regrettable" that the public had not been informed.

This decision has been met with heavy criticism from major beauty and cosmetic brands, including Unilever, The Body Shop, and Boots, some of which have long campaigned to end animal testing. CFI called the government's effective lifting of the ban "outrageous," while Christopher Davis, director of activism and sustainability at The Body Shop, stated that they would "campaign vigorously" against the changes.

At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we're deeply shocked and distressed by the recent ruling that has sent ripples through the cosmetics industry. We strongly condemn this decision, asserting that animal testing is not only profoundly cruel, but also utterly unnecessary. We firmly believe that there are far more humane and effective alternatives available, making the reliance on animal testing both outdated and unjustifiable.

Moreover, we find ourselves troubled by the misleading headlines currently making the rounds in the media. These reports inaccurately suggest that makeup in the UK will continue to avoid animal testing. This, unfortunately, is a half-truth. While the final products may not undergo animal testing, the current ruling still allows for individual ingredients to be tested on animals—a crucial detail that these reports conveniently ignore.

We are deeply disappointed by this development and share the concerns of our fellow cruelty-free advocates. CFI has announced that they will appeal the court's decision and ask the government to reinstate the complete ban in the UK. We stand in solidarity with them and will continue to fight for the rights of animals and the end of animal testing in cosmetics.

Thank you to everyone who firmly believes that animals are not to be used in cruel experiments. We urge you to continue supporting cruelty-free companies that are making a difference worldwide. If any new developments unfold, we will keep you up to date.

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+ Show Comments (86) - Hide Comments (86)
  • Siobhan says:

    Thank you Suzana for explaining this situation. I know I can trust your point of view.

    This is a shocking turn of events. I once considered the UK to be ahead of many countries where it concerns some animal welfare issues.

  • Virginia Lam says:

    I’m equally appalling that the UK government as well as EU government reverted back on animal testing for make up ingredients. As the workers, they have rights to choose their jobs and access the risk but not to animals. I urge the government cease the rules as it is also demanding people’s rights to use the products without animal testing.

  • Paula Foley says:

    There is NO need these days for testing on animals

  • Ulch says:

    They should conduct the testing on the members of the evil UK Government.

  • Deborah Katz says:

    Appalling. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  • S knutsen says:

    This is an unbelievably backward step! If an ingredient needs to b tested for the worker’s saftey, something tells me it shouldn’t b included in the product at all.

  • Wendy Burrows says:

    I am horrified that UK is bowing down, once again to the EU devils.
    The world appears to be regressing at an alarming rate. Most Brits do not want to be governed by EU, this is why Brexit happened. Clearly the government is not listening to the electorate, again.
    To go back 25 years into an age of horror of testing of cosmetics on animals is beyond barbaric, can UK not make their own decisions without being told what to do by Big Brother, does the UK government not have a spine to stand up to the EU and say NO?!
    I thought it was only 3rd world barbaric countries that still use animals for these outrageous and horrific tests.

  • Kristin Van der Veken says:

    what !! I can’t believe this, and that in this day and age!! humanity always puts itself above everything !! how sad. ????????

  • Bee says:

    What brands? Will happily remove from my purchase list.

  • Anna Kraeva says:

    Apalling and disgraceful!

  • Olga Dunning says:

    I’m absolutely disgusted! There is no need for this in this day and age!! Why should poor animals suffer for vanity. I always buy cruelty free products and always will!!!

  • Silvia says:

    What an appalling decision to make!!
    How can governing bodies be so blind to the change of mentality throughout the population?
    How can we have an innuendo of enforced change for climate without taking into account the responsibility we have towards the creature we share the planet with??
    I dream of a fair world for all creatures.

  • Emma Walton says:

    What can we do to fight this please?

  • Marianne Scanlan says:

    I’m absolutely devastated to hear this news.

  • Michelle Blake says:

    I’m horrified cruelty to animals by lab testing for makeup has been reinstated

  • Michelle Blake says:

    I’m mortified like a kick in the chest or I’ve lost a loved one????

  • Neil Cripps says:

    This is absolutely disgusting, this is what’s wrong with this world people thinking animals are second class to us but there NOT. Why is it always down to the few to stand up and try and do something to stop all the cruelty that goes on just so the fat pigs can make even more money than they already have. It’s always comes down to money in the end and they don’t care who they hurt along the way. We’ve got to try and get the word out and stop the voting on false promises , if we don’t do something nobody else will and this beautiful planet will be gone long before the next generation have time to enjoy it.

  • Lezley says:

    We seem to be going backwards not forwards I won’t be buying anything tested on animals as I do now this is so disgusting and not necessary we have so many products to chose from they don’t have to keep testing the same stuff I thought we left the EU so why do we have to copy them

  • Kerry Wright says:

    This is so unfair, please find an alternative solution! Animals already suffer at the hands of humans in so many ways, stop finding new ways in order for them to suffer. Why all of the sudden do you need to start using Animals again?? Please think of another solution. I have literally switched all of my products to crultey free alternatives and I am happy with my choices, this will make it difficult to continue using these brands should they have to follow this new rule!

  • Carol says:

    I always buy cruelty free products whether for cosmetics or cleaning products. I thank Cruelty Free Kitty for all their great work and for providing us information to choose what it right

  • Stephanie says:

    Just unbelievable! To me, animal testing is something that never should have had happened in the first place! Animals are our livelihood and the fact they are allowing UK to reinstate this nonsense and it isn’t right at all! Thank you for keeping us informed! I will always support cruelty free and we will continue to fight and WIN!!! These animals DO NOT deserve to be in the hands of uncompassionate people out there!

  • margaret says:

    In response to the re-introduction of testing on animals – as Prince Charles, now King Charles has always supported environmental causes such as WWF can he be relied upon to take action?

    Here is a snippet from the guardian 8 May 2023:

    “…We often make the mistake of imagining “the environment” to be the space of wilderness that lies beyond our world of human interaction when it was always, after all, the space that connects us to one another and to the multitude of interspecies life”.


  • Lynne says:

    So called “beauty products” are not worth obscene cruelty to animals. What a total backward step. What are these people thinking????? Test it on yourself!!!!!

  • margaret says:

    It is unconscionable that any government would return to such an archaic practice as testing chemicals on animals again especially after banning this for 25 years?

    Animal are our co-habitants of this world and our treatment of them is a testimony of what we think of life other than our own and in this case – no thought appears to be applied – no reflection or insight into the pain, misery and suffering that this does and will cause.

    The solution – ban this practice and make up that is tested on animals also be banned – the companies that allow this to reconsider or be fined.

    deeply saddened by this news.

  • Susan Hughes says:

    An outrageous decision by this uncaring government. Have any workers been harmed? I thought we were out of Europe!
    The deceit of this government disgusts, but does not surprise me.
    We fought before and won, so will fight again until this wicked and useless rule has been overturned.

  • Christina Welch says:

    This Tory government is selfish, heartless and totally obnoxious. I will be writing to my local MP to voice my opinion about this return to draconian practices and is certainly on a level with medieval torture. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for testing anything on animals and those who adopt policies to allow it to happen are as guilty as the pseudo scientists who actually carry out these abominations on innocent creatures who have no way of protecting themselves against this disgraceful and unnecessary violence.

    No doubt those in government who have reversed the decision have a financial interest in the pharmaceutical industry. SHAME ON YOU.

  • Christine Underwood says:

    Testing cosmetics on animals is both cruel and unnecessary because companies can already create innovative products using thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use and do not require any additional testing. Plus, modern testing methods (such as human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models) have replaced outdated animal tests with new non-animal methods that are often faster, less expensive and more reliable.

  • Jean Smuin says:

    I am completely appalled at the decision the UK has made. What the heck! Thank you so much for keeping us informed. As always I will continue to buy cruelty free, and I hope that consumers will no longer purchase EU products.

  • Brenda Walker says:

    Thank you so much for keeping us apprised of what’s going on in the UK. It is indeed both shocking and distressing when it is well-known and easy to produce good safe make up without using animals in this way. If we can help in any other way, please let all of us know we can sign petitions. We can send letters and of course we can boycott those beauty products. Again, thank you for your updates.

  • Debra Milenk says:

    This is absolutely appaulling to say the least!…This is going along with all the EVIL NEW WORLD ORDER , we all need to stand up STOP COMPLYING , JUST SAY NO . and STOP buying Chemically Laidened Prodiucts

  • Amanda Guy says:

    This is a reprehensible decision, it’s 2023 why are we going backwards, I’m so upset about this ????

  • Angna Byrne says:

    This is disgusting, please supply a list of the companies that are participating in this. I certainly won’t be buying their products. What a huge step backwards!

  • Jayne says:

    I live in the UK and am disgusted and ashamed with this decision. Am so mad. There are no excuses and animal testing should remain banned.

  • Nancy Sanders says:

    I think this is repugnant! Shame on them all! I love rats. They have just as much right to be here as we do! Just doing what they have to do to survive, and that’s no reason to scoop them up and test on them, or any animal or insect anywhere!!

  • Debra says:

    I am deeply shocked and saddened by this news!! At a time when so many people are wanting products that are cruelty free, the UK decides to go back to draconian measures…..SHAME ON THEM!! What can we do to help??

  • Linda Broadhead says:

    Time to move forward not backwards don’t be fools we are NOT IN THE EU now we don’t need to follow them

  • Linda Broadhead says:

    It’s time to move forwards not backwards don’t be idiot’s by altering the ban

    • Fede says:

      Shocking step back from what was a very progressive law for the time. I can’t believe this is not being denounced by every media outlet!

  • J Fitzpatrick says:

    I am horrified and appalled at my Government, how dare they think they have the right to let animals suffer.
    Shame on them

  • Rosanne Masone says:

    Sounds like England is taking a step
    Backwards. Too bad they caved on this topic!

  • Suzanne miles says:

    Now more than ever we should know about what brads have started testing on animal again name and shame ,,

  • Sooner H says:

    Sickens me! If this is comes to pass, I will watch your site for any UK brands I may have supported and now need to avoid. Thank you for keeping us informed!

  • Marie Carnes says:

    Thank you for the email regarding an old law being reinstated to test chemicals on animals. I had no idea.
    Marie Carnes

  • Kerry Stocker says:

    As a British resident and citizen am disgusted that our government has taken this step back into the dark ages

  • Patty says:

    Until a few years ago I did know about the cruelty. So keep talking. Keep telling what is going on. I quit those brands and found new products. Cruelty is the downfall of humanity. Almost every person I mention this to say they did not know of cruel and needless testing. Mindlessly buying things. Yet loving animals. So I think education and advertising are so important. Make it known. Loudly. Continually.

  • Camron says:

    This breaks my heart. As a proud Father of 11 amazing and beautiful rat children, I cannot believe we’re sliding backwards. For my kids and all other animal kids of every species, I will forever do my part and spread the word.

  • Sarah Price says:

    Super simple solution to this mess- if you think an ingredient may be harmful to workers, don’t use it!

    Thank you so much for the information, and keep fighting this absurdity!

    If you ever need my name on a petition, I will get you that and 5 more (I would promise more, but I don’t know many people).

    If there are other sites where it might be useful for us to rant about how stupid this situation is (spread awareness or something) put out the word.

  • Fiona Martin says:

    I’m in the UK and wasn’t aware of this, outrageous! How can they justify this massive step backwards? Animal testing is cruel and barbaric and totally unnecessary in this day and age. Have they sneaked this through? What was the point of leaving the EU if we still follow their stupid rules. Is there somewhere to protest?

  • i am so saddened by this, it is totally reprehensible that animals suffer needlessly in the making of these products. A sad fact is that many people simply are uninformed, or just don’t care. I would like to see more advertising in stores about which of their makeup brands are cruelty free. This information should be readily available at cosmetics counters as well. The last time I asked a clerk at the cosmetics counter which of their brands are cruelty free, she had no idea!

  • I am absolutely fuming that our government have reversed the animal testing ban! Luckily I use 100% cruelty free brands but for those that aren’t so in the know or even care about it I feel bad for. I am constantly raising awareness to the people I know about it and asking them to boycott those brands!

    Love Shannon x

  • Cathleen Groves says:

    It’s immoral to test or experiment on any sentient beings, for any reason at all. Period.

  • Carly Clark says:

    Oh no, as a UK resident I am disgusted at this.

    Thank you for raising awareness though. I try and buy cruelty free for all beauty & cleaning products but this is a step backwards that the public hasn’t been made aware of.

  • Catherine S says:

    This is beyond awful. Please can you post an update on Instagram?

  • Catherine S says:

    This is awful. Can you post it on instagram?

  • Gill Honeyford says:

    As a UK resident, I am disgusted at this about turn, but what can you expect from such an appalling government?

  • Angela Lavi says:

    I am appalled at the ruling. I only shop cruelty free brands and if the product is questionable then it will not be purchased. Shame on you UK. Animals have the same right not to suffer needlessly especially for beauty.

  • Lynda Coles says:

    This is medieval practice and the government are showing total disrespect for common decency in the way they are treating animals. They are also treating the public like idiots who cannot be trusted with making decisions. Animals are sentient beings with feelings and a right to fairness and kindness.

  • Debra Buzan says:

    I thank you so much for this information..my hope is that the UK is the only country to reverse their animal testing regulations..of countries who do ban all animal testing…as far companies who manufacture chemicals or products that they fear will harm their employees why are they using them in the first place??

  • Cathy Goodman says:

    That is so disappointing – crushing in fact. We fought for animal testing to be banned and won and now we have to fight all over again. It’s depressing how cyclical these things are when viewed over a lifetime.

  • Sue says:

    Is there anything I can do apart from continuing to only buy cruelty free?

  • Linda Bellavia says:

    Testing potentially hazardous make-up ingredients on poor, defenseless animals, is an extremely inhumane horror– and totally unnecessary! Ladies do not need to wear potentially hazardous make-up, in the first place! All the ladies in our family only buy cruelty-free items, and sacrifice and go without some things, if necessary. Dear little helpless animals need and deserve our love and care! We will continue to boycott all products that are not officially deemed “cruelty-free,” lifelong. ALWAYS BE KIND TO ANIMALS!! THEY NEED AND DESERVE OUR LOVE AND KINDNESS!

  • Elizabeth McMahon says:

    Thank you for continuing to advocate for the rights of all animals. You continue to be a voice for the voiceless. I am so grateful to Cruelty-Free Kitty because I can find all the products I need and make sure that whatever I’m buying hasn’t been tested on animals.

  • Kim Hickling says:

    Unfortunately we have a very corrupt government in the UK at the moment. But their days are short lived. We stopped fox hunting and we will ensure this dreadful act is repealed. Society is going backwards at the moment so we need to redouble our efforts ????????????

  • Why are humans going backwards?!! You would think our higher intelligence would make better decisions. If you want to test for any human related toxins use humans if you are going to be that way. So sad ????

  • Diane Seymour says:

    This is stupid and awful, showing no compassion for innocent animals. Thank you CFK for standing up for them and standing besides those UK companies that also oppose this cruel practice.

  • Vanda da Silva says:

    That’s the worst news.
    One step forward and 5 steps back.
    The world is a mess
    I will carry on with using only my cruelty free products
    Apart from the products I use being cruelty free they have also shown better results.
    Thank you

  • It is absolutely shocking that the UK are going back to testing cosmetics on animals after a 25 year ban. I was very upset to learn about this very disturbing news.Please reconsider this UK.

  • Alistair Higgins says:

    I am lost for words ????. I am basically sickened by the governments decision to go back to animal testing. But what do expect from a government that doesn’t care about animal suffering and humanity as a whole. I thought we left Europe?? So why backtrack.

  • Rachel Byrd says:

    Absolutely outrageous. The disgusting abuse towards any animal must stop. Why do so many think it’s ok to experiment on any animal, who the hell do they think they are? Got news for these idiots. . . .we need the animal kingdom more than they need us. Disgusted

  • Catherine says:


  • Anita Frimmer says:

    Reprehensible that cruelty free products are now available!!!

  • Karen C. says:

    I am extremely sad, disappointed & outraged at this barbaric decision to test on animals! Please reconsider & stop this horrendous cruelty inflicted on innocent animals!!! These tests continue to be useless for human purposes but are epitome of inhumane & torture for animals!!!

  • Sarah Sansom says:

    Is there a single point of protest – a petition perhaps – where we can all voice our concern about this?

  • michelle silver rayment says:

    Absolutely barbaric !!!!! How can this happen ?????time is supposed to move on but be better not go back in time ????animal testing is a no

  • Mary Mason says:

    I’m from the UK and I’m gutted to hear about this. It’s cash before compassion. To go 25 years cruelty free, surely some companies will stand up to this callous, unfeeling government and say No.

  • Emma says:

    If you get a chance
    Could you put a list together of bands that we will now have to avoid ?
    Thanks for the info xx

  • Lisa says:

    Heartbreaking and useless testing on animals. Shame on the UK

  • Emma says:

    Feeling ashamed to be British.
    If this is what we know about, it makes me feel even more sad about slaughter houses and other animal testing laboratories.
    We are going backwards all in the name of profit.

  • Beatrice Clark says:

    I am appalled, disgusted and repulsed by all those allowing this change to happen and those physically carrying out Animal Tests everywhere. I can say no more otherwise this won’t be published, but I know others like me feel exactly the same.

  • Debbie Reek says:

    No one, no company, nothing will prevent me from continuing to shop cruelty-free and vegan. Thank you for your work that makes it possible for folks like me to continue to shop cruelty-free.

  • Gail Drever says:

    Saddened to hear this. So unnecessary. Lets all stop buying these products. Maybe renew efforts to influence public spending habits. Lots of publicity. Thankyou for all you do.

  • Natalie says:

    I was truly devastated when I learned how the UK have turned on this. I felt so sick and was so upset. Animal testing is not necessary in any country in this day and age. I was caught out recently when I purchased a bundle of products that I believed were not tested on animals, but later found it wasn’t true. I fell for their clever marketing wording. It has been a costly mistake for me, but you can’t put a price on a life. I have now turned to Cruelty-Free Kitty to help me establish companies who truly do not test on animals and are genuinely cruelty free.

  • Denise Maraschiello says:

    It is becoming increasingly harder instead of easier to buy cruelty free products. I always look for the cruelty free bunny symbol or refer to your site before purchasing a new make up , hair care or body product.

  • Julie says:

    Unilever is cruelty-free??

  • Lara Carter says:

    OMG! This is so tragic. Are their any groups or lawmakers that we in the US can contact to protest this travesty?

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