Your Makeup Routine Might be Hurting Animals: Banning Cosmetic Animal Testing in Canada & U.S

During your morning routine you may not be aware of the amount of suffering animals have endured in order for you to use some of your favorite products. Those few sprays of perfume, and that quick application of your new lipstick could have a long history of barbaric experiments that inflict pain from cruel testing on helpless animals in the name of cosmetic beauty.

In Canada, it’s impossible to obtain accurate data about the number of animals that are being experimented on in research facilities. The main reason why these statistics are unknown is because Canada doesn’t possess a strict regulatory system to enforce protection for these animals. The only system currently in place to govern ethical and moral conditions is an independent agency that sets voluntary guidelines for animal use in research facilities. Since the Criminal Code is not applicable to animals used in experimentation, and provincial law is often unenforceable in most cases, animals are being tested in Canada with no supervision. [1] Of the experiments that are documented it’s estimated that over 500,000 animals are killed every year for cosmetic testing.[2] Despite this disturbing statistic all hope is not lost for these animals.

On May 28th 2018 thousands of people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to publicly show their commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless in the #BeCrueltyFree Canada Campaign hosted by the Body Shop Canada and Cruelty Free International. In the eyes of the animals, the event was a huge success collecting over 630,000 signatures making it one of the largest petitions ever presented since Canadians demanded a bill of rights sixty years ago.[3]

The Campaign demanded a ban on cosmetic testing on animals and the support of Bill S-214, The Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. Bill S-214 was originally introduced in 2015 by Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen and is now finally undergoing its third reading. If the Bill passes it would be the turning point for Canada’s historical lack of support for animal welfare by not only banning cosmetic testing on animals in Canada, but also banning the import of products that are tested on animals.[4]

Following the momentum from the #BeCrueltyFree Campaign, California is strongly advocating for legislation to ban all cosmetic testing on animals making it, “unlawful for any cosmetic manufacturer to knowingly import or sell any cosmetic in California if the product or its ingredients were tested on animals, starting January 1, 2020.” To reach its residents and dismantle any myths on the ‘benefits’ of animal testing a non-profit organization PCRM created a video of celebrity advocates and health professionals to speak to the human and animal interests of banning animal testing.[5] Similar to our neighbouring state, Canadian society has been manipulated to believe that in order for there to be any medical progression in Canada animals must be used for testing. Currently Canada’s legislation allows animal suffering to ensue by justifying that it is necessary to advance human interests.[6] However as Dr. Neal Barnard argues, since there is a scientific difference on the way animals versus humans respond to chemicals there is a 95%[7] translational failure rate from animals to humans. This means that almost 100% of the test results from animal experiments are unhelpful and inaccurate.[8]

Despite Canada’s dark history on animal welfare, this article shouldn’t leave you feeling helpless, there are proactive steps all Canadian citizens can take in helping to advocate and support the ban of cosmetic animal testing. The first being your own consumption by being vigilant to the products you are purchasing ensuring that they are cruelty free. The second step is to help get Bill S-214 the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act passed by looking up your MP, emailing them and asking them to support this necessary legislation. Lastly, you can educate others and pass along the information you have learned from reading this article and sharing posts on social media.


[1] Elaine Hughes, “Scientific Experiments on Animals and Constitutional Principles” (2003) 12:3 Constitutional Forum 69 (HeinOnline).

[2] iPolitics, Largest petition in nearly 70 years calls for ban on animal cosmetic testing, accessed from:

[3] Global News, Canada urged to ban testing of cosmetics on animals; more than half a million sign petition, accessed from:

[4] Supra, note 2.

[5] Plant Based News, Moby, Alicia Silverstone and Dr. Neal Barnard Join Forces To Fight Animal Testing, accessed from:

[6] Matthew Ellis, “Hominid Rights” (11 February 2011), Project Freerange (blog), accessed from:

[7] Windsor Star, No more lab rats: Alternatives to animal testing sought at new Windsor research centre, accessed from:

[8] Supra, note 5.