The History Of The Cruelty Free Movement | JAYN

animal testing

In today’s beauty world, there’s a cruelty-free version of almost all your favorite beauty products. But this hasn’t always been the case. So, how has society’s attitude towards animal testing and vegan beauty changed over the years? Let’s find out as we explore the history of the cruelty-free movement.

4BC - The Origins of Animal Testing

Animal testing has been prevalent throughout history and even goes back to Ancient Greece in the 4th century BC. It’s been recorded that philosophers, including Aristotle, carried out experiments on live animals.

1898 - The Origins of the Cruelty-Free Movement

Pass thousands of years to 1898. This was when Frances Power Cobbe started the British Cruelty Free International organization in Bristol.

One of the earliest remembered activists, Frances was appalled by the animal cruelty she witnessed first hand when traveling across Europe and took it upon herself to do something about it.

She was vocal about the horrors she had seen, and the organization lives on in her honor to this day.

animal testing on dogs

1920s - Mass Animal Testing in the USA

Let’s cross the Atlantic now to the States. Animal testing for cosmetics became mainstream in the 1920s. In 1938, it even became a legal prerequisite for selling any drugs or cosmetics.

1944- The Draize Irritacy Test

In 1944, one of the most controversial forms of animal testing, the Draize Irritacy Test, was developed. In this brutal test, innocent animals like rabbits have chemicals poured into their eyes, which results in bleeding or even blindness. The pain is so excruciating that the bunnies must be restrained to prevent them from pawing at their eyeballs.

1980s - Campaign against Revlon

In the 80s, people became more aware of the suffering, and society made a push to stop animal testing. One of the earliest and most notable achievements was Henry Spira and his campaign to stop Revlon from using the Draize Irritacy Test.

1990s - Governments against Animal Testing

A big push against animal testing happened in the 90s, with governments taking action to ban products tested on animals.

It started with the 6th Amendment to the EU Cosmetics Directive in 1993, which banned all animal-tested products. The law was scheduled to come into effect in 1998. However, due to trouble finding alternatives, it was pushed back several times. It wasn’t until 2013 that it finally came into effect.

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) was developed in North America in 1996 and went on to form the Leaping Bunny program.

And finally, in 1998, The UK followed the EU’s lead and banned animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients.

The Early 2000s - An International Ban on Animal Testing

The European Union’s ban on animal-tested products didn’t come into full effect until 2013. However, in 2011, almost every area of the EU had banned animal testing of cosmetic ingredients and the sale of animal-tested products and ingredients.  

Many countries then took the initiative to follow the European Union’s lead and ban animal testing.

Some of the first countries to follow included Israel, The USA, Norway, India, and Japan.

The Early 2000s - Cruelty-Free Testing Alternatives

During this period, there was also successful research for non-animal test alternatives.

In 2004, the OECD approved tests for skin photo-toxicity, corrosivity, and absorption without testing on animals.

In 2006, a second test was developed for skin corrosivity.

In 2009, a non-animal tested examination for eye irritation was approved, and a second alternative became available in 2012.

And, in 2010 a non-animal test method for skin irritation was approved.

These developments gave governments the courage to stand up against animal testing. Brands now had a way to ensure their products were safe without hurting animals.

Although this sounds like we’ve come a long way, it’s worth remembering that many of the countries that banned the animal testing of cosmetic products still allow animal testing of ingredients.

These legislations have a long way to go. It’s up to us as consumers to to choose brands with zero tolerance for animal testing.

Even in the USA, the laws against animal testing don’t cover the animals that are often tested on. This includes rats, birds, mice, and fish.

To be genuinely cruelty-free, a brand must not test on any animal in any country for either the full product or ingredients. That’s how we define cruelty-free at JAYN Beauty anyway! You can shop here with confidence and without researching complicated laws. We did our homework for you.

2014 - The Beginning of China’s Cruelty-Free Journey

China has a controversial relationship with the cruelty-free movement. The country requires mandatory animal testing for any product to be sold in the country. That’s why brands that sell in China can’t claim to be fully cruelty-free.

Disappointingly, some of your favorites and household names like Mac, L’oreal, Benefit, and Nivea still sell in China.

However, in 2014 China began taking its first steps to becoming cruelty-free by removing the mandatory animal testing for general cosmetics made in China.

General cosmetics include products like shampoo, mascara, and body lotion —basically, anything without an additional claim like anti-aging, sun protection, or whitening.

Just this year, in 2021, this was extended to international products. That means a foreign shampoo brand can be sold in China without first being tested on animals.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a massive win for the animals considering the size of the market.

To Now

More than 40 countries have now banned animal testing. We can only hope that this horrific practice goes on to be a shameful part of history.

countries that have banned animal testing


One day, the whole world will be cruelty-free.

Switching to a cruelty-free skincare routine doesn’t need to be difficult. The animal welfare benefits outweigh any small inconvenience on your part. Get tips on how to make the change here.

Even if you discovered that your favorite serum was tested on animals, we’re sure you’ll find a new cruelty-free alternative you love. Every product in our store is vegan and cruelty-free, so you can be confident in all your choices.


  • I’m glad there’s been so much progress in this testing. I’m proud of your research and determination to bring awareness to everyone.

  • Glad to see so much progress is finally being made! We can’t stop until animal testing is banned everywhere! Good read.

    Donna Johnson

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