Mexico Bans Animal Testing for Cosmetics

It's the first country in North America to outlaw the practice.

rabbit cosmetic testing
Rabbits being used for cosmetic testing.

Siqui Sanchez/Getty Images

Mexico’s Senate has unanimously approved a federal bill banning animal testing for cosmetics. The decision makes Mexico the first country in North America and the 41st country in the world to ban cosmetics testing on animals.

Under the new law, cosmetic research may not include testing on animals that includes individual cosmetic ingredients or finished cosmetic products. The new law also prohibits the manufacture, marketing, and import of cosmetics whether their final formulation or some of their individual ingredients have been tested on animals elsewhere in the world.

Of the 103 senators who participated in the vote, all voted in favor of the bill. Humane Society International/Mexico advocated for the bill along with a non-governmental organizational called Te Protejo that promotes the use of cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals.

The groups believe that interest in the legislation was influenced by Humane Society International’s stop-motion animated film “Save Ralph.” The story of a rabbit cosmetic tester had more than 150 million social media views and more than 730 million tags on TikTok. It spurred more than 1.3 million people to sign a petition for the legislation in Mexico.

Bill sponsor Senator Ricardo Monreal called the decision “historic” in making the announcement. “Finally, we’re going to save ‘Ralph’ and all the animals because today we are approving a historic reform: the prohibition to use them as experiments for beauty products,” he said.

“Beauty cannot be cruelty, and that’s why we senators are saving the animals and are issuing laws that firmly prohibit the use of animals for experiments in beauty, cosmetology, or of any type. Arriba los animales!"

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'Save Ralph'
'Save Ralph' test bunny. HSI

Animals are used in various ways in the cosmetics testing industry to test the safety of ingredients.

Sometimes individual ingredients or finished products are tested on animals such as rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and rats. They can be dripped in their eyes, rubbed on their skin, or fed to the animals to see if there are any negative effects.

The anti-testing legislation in Mexico was supported by companies in the beauty business including Avon, L’Oréal, Lush, P&G, and Unilever. Many are working in conjunction with HSI through the Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA), a collaborative of corporate and non-profit leaders who are developing safe, alternative methods to animal testing.

"We are thrilled that Mexico has made this history by becoming the first nation in North America to end animal testing for cosmetics," Antón Aguilar, executive director of Humane Society International/Mexico, tells Treehugger.

"This is a wonderful victory for our #BeCrueltyFree Mexico campaign, and the tremendous popularity of our #SaveRalph animated film was instrumental in getting this ban over the line, so we have to thank all the politicians and members of the public who rallied behind us to say no more to animals enduring pain and suffering for beauty products."

Now with Mexico, using animals for testing cosmetics has been banned in 41 countries, as well as 10 states in Brazil and seven in the U.S., according to HSI. Three more states in the U.S. (New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) are considering legislation and federal bills are awaiting reintroduction in the U.S. and Canada.