Why Animal-Product-Free Testing?

Since the animal testing ban for cosmetics was fully adopted in the EU in 2013, many innovative advances have been made in the field of animal-free tests. However, many in the industry overlook the fact that most in vitro methods use animal derived components such as Foetal Bovine Serum (FBS), liver tissue extracts and antibodies. They ultimately require the sacrifice of animals; you can never assume that an in vitro test is a vegan test. So how far back in the supply chain is it reasonable to go, and to what degree would the use of an animal product affect a claim of being vegan?

At XCellR8, we have eliminated the use of all animal derived components in our laboratory by using human serum, chemically defined media or human platelet lysate instead. Here’s why.


  • Studies have shown that non-animal derived components provide a better model of human physiology
  • Synthetic components have a higher rate of reproducibility
  • Avoids the complications of species differences when interpreting results


  • Avoids the animal welfare issues involved in the collection of components such as foetal bovine serum (FBS)
  • Helps you meet consumer demand for sustainable, vegan products and ethical supply chains
  • Honours a vegan testing philosophy

The growing importance of vegan testing

There is a major global trend in the cosmetics industry and beyond towards veganism and vegan consumer products. In a 2019 report, market researchers Euromonitor noted “The quest for improved transparency and purpose is forcing beauty companies to cater to a more ingredient-savvy consumer who wants to stand out through their product choices and the causes they believe in. Ethical ingredient sourcing is becoming more the norm in the beauty industry. With the focus on ‘clean’ beauty, cruelty-free and most notably vegan products will be increasingly sought after.”

A further survey by Euromonitor found that over 20% of respondents said the product labels “not tested on animals, cruelty-free and / or 100% vegan” influenced their decision to buy.

To fully honour the vegan philosophy when developing cosmetics for this market, safety and efficacy testing of ingredients and finished products should also be vegan compliant.

We know this is a complex issue because in some cases, animal-free (let alone vegan) tests haven’t yet been fully developed, or regulators allow the use of historic animal data in safety data sheets. However, we can provide vegan data for several endpoints that are key to cosmetic safety assessment, including skin and eye irritation, skin sensitisation and genotoxicity, as well as supporting claims such as mildness and antioxidant activity. We are also working with the Vegan Society to achieve accreditation of our methods, for added reassurance that our own supply chain has been independently audited and meets the highest available vegan standards.

Can a vegan test form part of a regulatory submission?

Yes absolutely. XCellR8 have been at the forefront of adapting existing in vitro tests to entirely animal-product-free conditions and then gaining regulatory acceptance of our new methods. You can read the case study of our KeratinoSens™ skins sensitisation test here, showing the results of how 20 reference chemicals were correctly classified in line with the Validated Reference Method, and went on to be fully accepted as a regulatory method and published in OECD TG 442d 2018.

Please get in touch to find out more about our vegan testing methods.


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