With the amendment of The Illinois Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or SB 241, Illinois is now the third U.S. state to ban the sale and import of cosmetics if the products were tested on animals. This ban also applies to any ingredients or research and development processes that conduct animal testing at any stage of the development process. Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law on August 9, 2019, making the ban effective for all cosmetic sales on and after January 1, 2020.
Products that have been tested on animals may be sold prior to this cutoff date but any remaining products must be recalled come 2020. Violators will be fined $5,000 initially then $1,000 per day that animal testing, or the sales of products tested on animals, continues and will be enforced by the state attorney.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no federal ban on animal testing in cosmetics. The practice is banned in more than 30 countries but in America, the practice is left up to regulation at the state level. California became the first state to ban sales of products developed using animal testing in 2018, and Nevada followed suit earlier in 2019. Following the model for California’s “humane cosmetics” legislation, Illinois is also providing incentives for cosmetics companies to switch to alternative research and development methods that avoid animal testing while remaining innovative and competitive.
Historically, the main purpose of animal testing has been to test whether or not cosmetic products are safe for humans to use. Animal rights activists and concerned consumers have been advocating for a federal ban on animal testing in cosmetics since animals are frequently subjected to painful tests and killed after experiments are conducted. The Draize test, where ingredients are dropped into rabbits’ eyes, are tested on animals’ bare skin, and some ingredients are even force-fed to rats. Animal rights groups have pointed out that these methods are harmful to animals and that there are other non-animal testing alternatives that can be used.
Cell cultures and donated human tissue have been used in medical research, drug testing, and cosmetic testing as non-animal alternatives to lab tests.
With more open discussions from researchers, there has been more pushback on animal testing than ever before. Scientists and consumers have shown concern that animal testing is cruel, expensive, and not as accurate or relevant to human. Computer, or in silico, modeling has also been proposed for replacing animal testing since today’s computer models can closely simulate human biology to get more accurate indicators of chemical reactions.
Consumer pushback alone has caused many leading cosmetics brands to change their product development inputs and processes, but consumers and activists have angled for legislative action to force companies to curtail animal testing. With California’s legislative victory effectively halting several million dollars of sales for cosmetics that use animal testing, it has prompted other states to adopt similar legislation and put a stop to the practice if cosmetics brands want to stay in business.