This issue came up earlier this week as the EU finally banned animal tests for cosmetics on Monday:

I have a PhD in animal welfare and have worked for over 7 years promoting non-animal tests to the science industry. I have submitted consultation responses to EU Scientific Committees on non-animal alternatives for cosmetics testing. I work at

I’m here from 4pm ET / 8pm GMT for an hour to answer questions you have on animal tests for cosmetics and the EU ban. AMA!

** Thank you everyone for all of your interesting questions! I've finished answering now, but you can find out more at the Cruelty Free International site We're also on Facebook and Twitter**

Comments: 103 • Responses: 11  • Date: 

tbrown12317 karma

What would you recommend we do over in North America to help encourage this ban here?

DrKatyTaylor13 karma

Lots of things! Buy products with the Leaping Bunny logo, sign our pledge (, donate towards our work and you can stay up to date with the situation by following us on facebook or twitter –

Thanks for your support

mollsss17 karma

What are the biggest challenges you face in trying to ban animal testing? What are the best alternatives to testing products on animals?

DrKatyTaylor21 karma

So the biggest challenges we have faced in trying to secure a ban is the conservative attitude of the scientific community and the fact they are resistant to change. There is also a lack of awareness amongst the public - did you know that 115 millions are used every year?!

In terms of alternatives they are generally better than animal tests - they are also cheaper and faster. There are a wide range of different alternatives from computer models, tissue models and cell based tests. One of the ones I like in particular, which is used in cosmetics tests, uses donated human skin from tummy tucks and breast surgery.

Willb3tray4food12 karma

What are replacements for animal testing? I keep hearing that, but what specifically do use, is there a fake body part or something they can use or do they just use volunteers?

DrKatyTaylor15 karma

Thanks for your question! In terms of alternatives they are generally better than animal tests - they are also cheaper and faster. There are a wide range of different alternatives from computer models, tissue models and cell based tests. One of the ones I like in particular, which is used in cosmetics tests, uses donated human skin from tummy tucks and breast surgery.

Willb3tray4food6 karma

Was not expecting that! How do they squire the skin? Do they buy it off patients or the hospital. If donated, is it a form or is it just a general donation where it is used where needed?

DrKatyTaylor14 karma

Only a tiny amount of human skin is required for a test which would normally use around six rabbits. In terms of how the companies require the skin - it will be based on an arrangement with the hospital and with full consent of the patients.

blargh900112 karma

As a vegan, is it 'safe' to pick just any shampoo off a supermarket shelf in Europe now?

DrKatyTaylor13 karma

Well, the EU ban is for all new cosmetics, meaning that no further animal tests can be carried out for new cosmetics sold in the EU since Monday. Products that are currently on the market that have been animal tested before 11th March 2013 will still be available for sale in the EU – so not ‘safe’.

Cosmetics can still be tested on animals outside the EU if they are not going to be sold in the EU. But, the EU ban should have a positive knock-on effect around the world.

Until we have a global ban, the only ‘safe’ way to know products are free from animal testing is to look for the Leaping Bunny. This ensures that your products and ingredients aren’t tested on animals anywhere in the world. has a tool that allows you to check that the products are vegan too!

oceanderpp8 karma

In the UK, where are the best shops to buy cosmetic products that are safe for vegans and animal cruelty free?

DrKatyTaylor9 karma

Ah, there’s lots of choice! My favourites are Paul Mitchell, Superdrug’s own-brand products, Bulldog, and for supermarkets, Marks & Spencer and The Co-operative’s own brand cosmetics and household products have the Leaping Bunny, and Sainsbury’s household products too. If you want to look up any particular cruelty-free products or companies, you can check

intangible-tangerine8 karma

Given that the first ban in the UK was back in 1997, why did it take so long for the whole EU to follow suite and what hope is there of a worldwide ban being implemented in the coming years? Are any nations particularly resistant?

Time line from rspca website:

In 1997 the UK banned the use of animals to test cosmetics products.

In 1998, a similar ban was introduced to cover ingredients.

In 2003 an amendment was made to the EU Cosmetics Directive putting in place plans to ban the use of animals to test cosmetics or their ingredients within the European Union.

In 2004 the ban on using animals to test finished cosmetics products in the EU came into force.

In 2009 the ban on using animals to test ingredients for cosmetics in the EU came into force. In addition, a ‘sales ban’ on new products whose ingredients had been tested on animals elsewhere in the world came into effect. But this was not a total ban. It could be delayed until 2013 for three specific types of safety test (repeat-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics) - which it was thought would take longer to replace.

On March 11th 2013 the full marketing ban took effect across the EU (regardless of the availability of alternative methods).

DrKatyTaylor15 karma

Good question! Firstly, it took a long time to raise awareness throughout the EU. Our founding organization set up a group of animal organizations from across Europe to lobby together – the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments.

Secondly, the cosmetics industry was very resistant to the ban. The EU first agreed to the principal of the ban in 1993 but it kept being delayed… for 20 years! This was mainly due to the cosmetics industry arguing that there was a lack of alternatives.

Now we have a ban on animal tests for cosmetics in the EU, we are working for a worldwide ban! More than 80% of countries around the world still allow animal testing for cosmetics. There are some countries that go further than that - notably China, which requires imported cosmetics products to be tested on animals before they reach the market. But the impact of the EU ban for global companies makes change in other markets much more likely and me and my team are working hard to ensure that happens as quickly as possible!

mightymighty7 karma

I've heard that a lot of universities will "invent" animal testing studies for the funding. Is this true in the EU?

DrKatyTaylor5 karma

It certainly seems true that if a scientist wants to experiment on animals in the EU they can! I think it’s far too easy for scientists to come up with bizarre animal tests and it seems all too easy for them to get funding to do it.

There was a new EU law passed last year which sadly didn’t go far enough to protect animals. In recent years me and my team have highlighted cruel and bizarre animal tests such as testing mushrooms on animals, the effects of cocaine and ecstasy and seeing if brain damaged monkeys were afraid of plastic snakes!

A large part of my job is trying to persuade governments and other institutions to toughen their rules on animal testing.

braindamagedmonkey7 karma

I don't know the details of those experiments, but you make it seem like they're just mad whims without any motivation, surely that's not the case?

I can imagine any of those tests could bring useful science, especially in understanding how the brain woks eg. what areas of the brain are responsible for fear (monkeys and plastic snakes), or gaining insight to various neural pathways influenced by cocaine, mushrooms or ecstasy.

Besides, haven't many scientific discoveries been made on mad whims? Not saying it's right, but can you really say there is no trade-off between ethics and science here?

DrKatyTaylor6 karma

We wouldn’t accept that it’s right to cause suffering to an animal just to answer an interesting scientific question. So for us there is no trade off, but it’s an ethical decision that you may have a different opinion on. There are 115 million animals being used in animal tests around the world each year and the positive results are few and far between.

We have a growing list of companies who carry our Leaping Bunny logo - which shows that there are more and more companies who share our view that it’s wrong to cause harm to animals.

blargh90017 karma

devils advocate - what's your response to the claims that the ban will lead to exploitation of humans; Desperate, impoverished people putting their health at risk in tests for money

DrKatyTaylor15 karma

Nobody who knows about the issue would claim that this ban would lead to exploitation of humans – humans will never be at risk from cosmetics testing.

There are a range of non-animal tests available for cosmetics. If you're interested to see exactly what they are, you can see a report on non-animal alternatives I wrote for the EU decision-makers here:

OtisTheZombie6 karma

What are they really doing to these animals? I love animals, but I understand that sometimes we need to use them for stuff (like food, or medical research).

Cosmetics testing seems like a frivolous use of animals, but what's really going on? I have this mental image of bunnies all made up to look like whores.

DrKatyTaylor15 karma

If only! 'Animal tests' can sound fairly harmless, but sadly, this is not the case. In terms of cosmetic testing, the ingredients are often dripped into their eyes and rubbed onto their skin. They are then killed after the test to see what effect the ingredients has had on them.

Here is a link to our site which tells you what happens -