More and more states are getting tough on animal testing of cosmetics. Some have passed and some are considering laws that would ban the sale or import of makeup, cleansers, shampoo and other products that have been tested on animals. Activists say the practice is cruel and unnecessary.

California was the first state to pass legislation to ban animal-tested cosmetics. It makes it illegal to import or sell any product tested for animals after Jan. 1, 2020. Nevada was the second state to ban animal testing, followed quickly by Illinois. Both passed similar laws that also went into effect in January.

Similar legislation has been introduced in Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The laws require companies to use non-animal tests to show their products are safe.

The Humane Cosmetics Act — a national anti-cruelty cosmetics ban — was first introduced in Congress in 2014 but has never received full support. The newest version was introduced in November 2019. According to the Associated Press, this is the first time the ban is supported by the cosmetics trade group, the Personal Care Products Council. This should help ease worries about opposition from businesses.

How the world is responding

HSUS is one of the organizations driving the push for legislation. According to the group's Be Cruelty-Free Campaign, 500,000 animals die each year from cosmetic testing. Products are placed on their skin, in their eyes and down their throats to see how they react, according to the group.

Animal-tested cosmetics are banned in 39 countries including all of the European Union, Australia and India. (Though as one astute reader mentioned, Brexit has raised complications for companies and consumers, because the EU rules will no longer apply.)

But it doesn't work that way in China. The Chinese government requires mandatory animal testing on all cosmetics imported into the country, according to HSUS. The government sometimes also tests items that are being sold. So even if a company doesn't test its products on animals, if they sell them in China, there's a chance they will be tested on animals there.

China is a "big complicating factor," Monica Engebretson of Cruelty Free International in North America tells the AP. "That's put companies that want to enter that Chinese market in a real bind."

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

States join global push to ban animal testing
Dozens of countries have banned cosmetics tested on animals, and now more U.S. states are doing the same.