Article by Pascaline Clerc, PhD.
You might have seen the recent ad campaigns encouraging the use of cruelty-free sunscreen. But with all of the confusion that can come from reading labels, many people are asking if sunscreen can be cruelty-free. Sunscreens are considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be over-the-counter drugs and not cosmetics. Unlike cosmetics, OTC drugs are subject to animal testing as required by the FDA in certain cases. Several other commonly used products that are actually considered OTC drugs by the FDA include anti-acne cream, anti-dandruff shampoo and anti-cavity toothpaste.
When a company produces a product that is considered an OTC drug, and the product contains a new ingredient, the company is required to conduct animal testing to receive approval from the FDA to sell the product. This is called the New Drug Application (NDA) process.
On the other hand, if a company is developing a new product using previously tested and FDA-approved ingredients (that are then not considered “new”), it can appeal to the FDA to waive the animal testing requirements. So, sunscreens and other OTC drugs can be cruelty-free if they were produced using ingredients or substances that were tested in the past and approved by the FDA.
The FDA has a list of acceptable ingredients, including doses, formulations, and labeling. This list is often updated to add new ingredients that were first approved through the NDA process. This is what companies do if they are certified by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics and listed on leapingbunny.org as being cruelty-free.
If it’s on the list, a company has certified that no animal testing has been conducted after a fixed cut-off date. So its sunscreens are cruelty-free because the ingredients are not currently tested on animals. It is possible to protect your skin while taking a stand for animals.
If you want to learn more about cosmetic testing, visit our fact sheet here.
Through our Be Cruelty-Free campaign, The HSUS and its partner organization, Humane Society International are working in the U.S. and around the globe to end animal testing for cosmetics. To learn more about this campaign and sign a pledge in support of ending animal testing for cosmetics, visit www.humanesociety.org/becrueltyfree.
Pascaline Clerc, PhD, is the senior director of Animal Research Issues at The Humane Society of the United States and manages the Be Cruety-Free campaign for The HSUS, aiming to eventually end animal testing of cosmetics in the United States. Dr. Clerc also oversees the refinement and replacement of animals used in research.
My Beauty Bunny does not accept compensation for any product reviews; Press samples have been provided for this purpose. Opinions are the author’s own. Article may contain affiliate links.