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The European Union just made a huge announcement: after March 11, 2013, animal testing on any cosmetics or toiletries sold in Europe will be strictly prohibited. As this includes any goods that are outsourced for production and then distributed in Europe, the ban marks a huge victory for animals rights activists worldwide.

I recently moved to Paris temporarily, but I am based in New York, and will be returning at the beginning of the summer. As I have made it a personal mission to only choose toiletries, cosmetics, and other personal products that are marked cruelty-free or are certifiably approved by such anti-cruelty groups as Leaping Bunny, the EU’s announcement speaks volumes of progress to me. But as an American, the real question lingers: Are we next?

The ban is such a watershed moment because it radiates potential. With no animal testing, it stands to reason that companies may need to reformulate many new products with more natural, organic ingredients rather than experimental chemicals. And with a huge industry taking a stand for Animal rights, we can only hope that others will begin their own processes of self-reevaluation.

But perhaps the most important element of potential is the idea that even just within the realm of cosmetics and toiletries, other countries will begin to follow suit. Many of the most popular makeup companies in the United States are European in origin. Many others have already taken steps to eliminating animal-testing in their product lines. As a conscious consumer, I know that choosing the right products is not difficult or necessarily expensive, and almost every time I visit a New York drugstore I marvel at the increased selection of cruelty-free products. Just as the organic food movement is finally making its way into far more budget-friendly, convenient arenas, the cruelty-free cosmetic industry is truly beginning to make its presence known among American consumers.

But it only starts here. We obviously cannot guarantee the origin of all of our toiletries unless the government does it for us. And it seems clear that, especially with this new European legislature, American Animal rights lobbyists have some very powerful ammunition to continue the fight.

Image Source: Understanding Animal Research/Flickr