Ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics

Australia is moving towards a cruelty free future. Is it enough?
updated: 30 June 2020

​The Australian Industrial Chemicals Act 2019, commencing 1 July 2020, implements a ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics. From this date, any new industrial chemicals solely used in cosmetics cannot use information from animal testing to prove safety whether they have been manufactured in, or imported into Australia.

Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) welcomes this progress as the legislation discourages irritancy and toxicity testing on animals and provides incentive for the industry to adopt animal free alternative testing methods.

Nonetheless, the new legislation unfortunately does not constitute a comprehensive ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics. Contrary to media reporting of the Industrial Chemicals Bill, there are numerous loopholes and exceptions to the rules that continue to allow animal testing.


The new legislation: 

X Only applies to industrial chemicals which are used solely in cosmetics. It does not restrict the use of animal test data for industrial chemicals that are multi end use, i.e. Citric Acid is used in multiple industries such as food, cosmetics and cleaning products. Unfortunately, most cosmetics are formulated using both sole and multi end use Industrial chemicals. 

X Allows for sole use chemicals to continue to utilise animal test data, under three significant exemptions. 

X Does not apply to historical animal test data. The restrictions only apply to data obtained by animal tests conducted after 1 July 2020.

X Only relates to chemical ingredients of cosmetics, not to finished products (we expect this will be covered under the NHMRC Animal Ethics Code which is being revised from 2013).  

As a result of these limitations, this legislation does not mean that every cosmetic, personal care or cleaning product on Australian shelves is free of animal testing. It is now more important than ever to continue to use the CCF List as a valued resource to ensure that your products are free from animal testing.

What is the Industrial Chemicals Act?

The Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 became legislation on 12 March 2019. It is part of a package of Acts and establishes a legislative framework for the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS). It replaces the previous scheme, the Australian Government’s National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). From 1 July 2020, AICIS will regulate the introduction (importation and manufacture) of industrial chemicals. This will ensure that chemicals used in consumer products are safe for consumers and the environment. The Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules 2019 were released on 27 November 2019 and these will guide the implementation of the Act.


What does this mean for Animals and Australian Products?

We still do not have a comprehensive ban on cosmetics animal testing in Australia. Animals will continue to suffer and die in animal laboratories. This legislation does not mean that every cosmetic, personal care and cleaning product on Australian shelves will be free of animal testing.

What are we still fighting for?

Choose Cruelty Free is calling for this act to be strengthened by a legislated prohibition of animal test data for chemicals used in cosmetics, whether they be sole use or multi-end use. Since the adoption of the EU ban on cosmetics testing on animals, the development of non-animal tests has accelerated. Non-animal tests are more likely to provide accurate data to ensure human safety. Further to this, disallowing the use of chemicals based on there being insufficient safety data (i.e. no valid non-animal/alternative tests) will thus provide incentive for our government and research community to invest further resources into the development of non-animal tests. 

CCF has been fighting since 1992 for a total ban on the importation and sale of cosmetics tested on animals in Australia, and we still do not have that. 


We have joined forces with other anti-vivisection societies to strengthen this legislation. In May 2020, Choose Cruelty Free and Humane Research Australia called on the Australian Government to address their Commitments originally agreed upon with Humane Society International and the former Minister McKenzie in 2019 that have not been upheld within this bill. To this date, these commitments have not been fully honoured. View the original commitments here.

What about China's animal testing regulations?

The ban on animal cosmetic testing in Australia will not extend to China's mandatory animal tests where regulations require that most imported cosmetic products must undergo animal testing prior to being sold to consumers in retail stores. Companies that choose to sell their products in mainland China will still be available for purchase in Australia. CCF will not accredit any company that allows their products to be animal tested, anywhere in the world. We urge consumers to continue to support companies that are accredited as cruelty-free, and use the CCF List as a valued resource.

As a consumer, what can you do to take action?

Consumers are integral to the cruelty free movement. Here is what you can do:


1. Use the CCF List: Support companies that are accredited as cruelty-free, and use the Choose Cruelty Free List as a valued resource via online, pocket list guide, the free mobile app or the printed list.


2. Contact your favourite brands:

In recent times we’ve seen a rise in the number of products marketed as “cruelty-free”. The market, as it always does, has responded to consumer demand. Unfortunately, anyone can make a claim that their products are cruelty-free, and/or use an unofficial logo, which can be misleading. While the business may not conduct any animal tests themselves, there is a chance the formulations and ingredients may have been tested by contract manufacturers or raw ingredient suppliers. Looking for certification from an independent body like Choose Cruelty Free to verify their claims is the best way forward. 


Consumers wield a lot of power in business so it is important for companies to hear directly from consumers.


If you find a company that claims to not test their products on animals, but you can’t see them on the CCF List, take a few minutes to contact them via social media or email asking them why they are not accredited with Choose Cruelty Free. The animals can’t speak up, so we have to give them a voice.


3. Reach out to your local MP: Write, email or phone your local MP and remind them that Australians want a comprehensive ban on the sale and importation of cosmetics - with no loopholes. Choose Cruelty Free's work is far from done, and we need your actions to continue the fight for our lab animal friends.

Note: Choose Cruelty Free will continue to provide free, independent advice to Australian consumers on this issue. This page will be continually updated as CCF receives more information regarding the 2020 Australian regulations.







'End use', for an industrial chemical, means a purpose to which the industrial chemical can be applied.

An industrial chemical is classified as 'multi-end use' if it is used in multiple industries such as cosmetics, therapeutics, agricultural, veterinary, food or pharmaceutical. Many cosmetic ingredients have multiple end uses. The Industrial Chemicals Act allows the use of animal testing data for multi-end use chemicals.

An industrial chemical is classified as 'sole purpose' if it is used in one industry and no other. The Industrial Chemicals Act restricts the use of animal testing data for chemicals that are used solely in cosmetics. 


Further examples here.


Animal test data refers to any data or information resulting from tests involving a live vertebrate animal (other than a human being), or cephalopods.

This ensures that there are no gaps allowing for certain types of animals to be tested on. Cephalopods such as squids, octopus and other molluscs have historically not been recognised as animals. These sections are in accordance with National Health and Medical Research Councils Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.



The Industrial Chemicals Act defines a cosmetic as: a substance or preparation intended for placement in contact with any external part of the human body, including:(i)  the mucous membranes of the oral cavity; and

(ii)  the teeth;

with a view to:

(iii)  altering the odours of the body; or

(iv)  changing its appearance; or 

(v)  cleansing it; or

(vi)  maintaining it in good condition; or

(vii)  perfuming it; or 

(viii)  protecting it. 


Cosmetics are governed by the AICIS. Therapeutics are not.


Therapeutic goods are products that prevent, diagnose or treat diseases, or that affect the structure or functions of the human body. Therapeutic's are governed by the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA). You can find out if the ingredient you're using is defined as a cosmetic or a therapeutic good here.




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Choose Cruelty Free acknowledge that we meet and operate on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and that sovereignty of the land of the Kulin Nation was never ceded. We pay our respects to their ancestors and elders - past, present, and emerging.