When news broke last month that California had motioned to ban all cosmetic animal testing by 2020, it felt like the first good thing to happen in months. Not only was it a bright spot within a dark news cycle, but thanks to the size of California’s economy, it seemed like the bill would affect real change in the beauty industry. Now, animal lovers have another reason to celebrate: Unilever, the parent company of a handful of major drugstore brands, just announced it’s ramping up its efforts to bring an end to animal testing.
In a press release from the company, representatives wrote that Unilever is supporting a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics, and collaborating with the Humane Society International (HSI) to make it happen. For an idea of how significant this news is, Unilever owns 57 beauty and personal care brands alone. Those include drugstore mainstays Dove, Simple, Love Beauty & Planet, Suave, and Clear, to name just a few. And in no accident, the release notes that Unilever’s news coincides with Dove officially gaining PETA accreditation as a cruelty-free brand.
What does this mean for your body wash? Likely, not much outside of PETA’s cruelty-free logo showing up on Dove’s labels in January 2019. According to Dove director Amy Stepanian, the brand didn’t previously test on animals and has been using alternative methods for 30 years. What the new initiative does enforce, however, is the prohibition of animal testing by governments on the brand’s behalf. (In layman’s terms: a country can’t go behind Unilever’s back and test their products on animals before they hit shelves.)
That’s NBD for Europe, admittedly: Ever progressive, the EU banned animal testing back in 2013, says David Blanchard, Unilever’s chief research and development officer. But by adding Unilever’s official co-sign, Blanchard says the brand hopes it’ll put further pressure on the beauty industry and markets that require animal-testing (like China) to adopt more ethical safety testing.
The press release also mentions that through supporting the HSI, Unilever will join its #BeCrueltyFree initiative, which is leading animal testing legislative reform in multiple countries around the globe. Within Unilever, Love Beauty & Planet and Simple are in the midst of applying for PETA accreditation, Stepanian says.
It’s a small step, but one that means we’re closer to getting more global regulation around the way our makeup and skin care is tested. And on the heels of California’s animal testing ban being signed into law on September 6, that’s looking sooner than ever.