11/03/2013 09:36 GMT | Updated 11/03/2013 09:48 GMT

European Union Ban On Animal Testing For Cosmetics Comes Into Force

Animal-rights campaigners are celebrating the introduction of a sweeping ban on the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals comes into force throughout the European Union - after a high profile campaign backed by celebrities like Leona Lewis, Ricky Gervais and Ke$ha.

Animal experiments carried out to test cosmetics or their ingredients have been outlawed in the EU since 2009.

But companies have been free to sell products with a history of animal testing conducted outside Europe.

Leona Lewis has fronted a Body Shop campaign to end animal testing on cosmetics

The new directive bans marketing in the EU of any cosmetics developed with the help of animal tests carried out after 2009, or 2013 depending on the type of procedure.

It follows 30 years of "cruelty free" campaigning by the RSPCA and other animal welfare groups.

European Commissioner in charge of Health & Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, stated: "Today's entry into force of the full marketing ban gives an important signal on the value that Europe attaches to animal welfare. The Commission is committed to continue supporting the development of alternative methods and to engage with third countries to follow our European approach.

"This is a great opportunity for Europe to set an example of responsible innovation in cosmetics without any compromise on consumer safety."

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: "Animal testing in the name of beauty has never been acceptable.

"This landmark legislation at the end of a long campaign sends out a loud and clear message to other countries and those companies operating outside the EU.

"Many cosmetic companies are multinational but this legislation means that they can't avoid a test ban in the EU by carrying out tests in other countries.

"If their products or ingredients have been newly-tested on animals then they cannot be sold in the EU, no matter where the testing took place."

Legally, cosmetics include products used to "clean, perfume and protect the body" as well as beauty aids.

The definition casts a wide net over soaps, bath and shower products, deodorants and anti-perspirants, shampoos, hair sprays and colorants, shaving creams and foams, aftershave, toothpaste, mouthwash, sunscreen and anti-wrinkle creams.

Before 2009, around 2,000 animals were still being used for cosmetics animal testing across four countries: France, the Czech Republic, Spain and Romania.

However, millions more are still being used for the testing of chemicals used in other industries, according to the RSPCA.

Grant added: "This is a great day for animals but it isn't the end of the story - there are still many animals being used across the world to develop cosmetics products that will be sold outside of the EU.

"We will now be taking our message to these countries and companies to ask them to follow our lead and end this suffering."

How the EU's Ban on Animal Tested Cosmetics Protects People and Advances Science (BLOG)

Michelle Thew, chief executive of Cruelty Free International said the day would "go down in history".

"Testing cosmetics on rabbits and guinea-pigs is the ugly face of the beauty industry,” said Troy Seidle, Be Cruelty-Free campaign director for the Humane Society International.

“With the EU closing its doors to animal-tested cosmetics, the beginning of the end of global cosmetics cruelty is within our grasp. EU citizens made it clear that they don’t want their mascara or shampoo to have been dripped in a rabbit’s eye or force fed to mice in massive doses, no matter where in the world that suffering has taken place."