Sales of cosmetics certified as not tested on animals dipped from £182 million (€270m) in 2003, to reach £172 million in 2004, according to the Ethical Consumption Report 2005, published last week by Co-operative Bank - a finance house that has built a reputation on ethical investment.
The figure is based on cosmetic companies that have allowed themselves to be audited by the Humane Cosmetics Standard, which ensures that all companies allow full audits of the entire supply chain to check that there is no contravention of the animal testing laws.
However, Duncan Bowker, Co-operative Bank spokesperson, said that the fall in sales did not reflect the consumer trend away from purchasing cosmetic products not tested on animals.
"Our research suggests that 80 per cent of consumers want to purchase products not tested on animals," Bowker told CosmeticsDesign.com. "The fact that purchases of ethical cosmetic products actually fell during the survey period reflects the fact that only 2 per cent of cosmetics products in the UK are currently have HCF certification."
Bowker went on to stress that UK consumers want to buy cosmetics products that are not tested on animals, the issue is more to do with the fact that compliance with HCF certified labelling amongst cosmetics companies is limited.
"This is more to do with an education issue," he added. "And that is why we are campaigning to draw more attention to HCF certification, to improve both consumer and industry awareness."
The HCF, which is currently run by coalition groups in leading European countries that include the UK, France and Spain, has played a crucial part in supporting the cosmetic industries drive towards fulfilling the requirements of Reach, which will ultimately see a total ban on the testing of all cosmetic products and ingredients.
The report finds that the results for cosmetics purchases buck the overall trend though, as total sales of ethical goods and services were shown to have risen by 15 per cent between 2003 and 2004, to reach a total of £25 billion.
Interestingly, sales of both Fairtrade and organic consumer products, which includes food, clothing and, to a smaller degree, cosmetics products, rose significantly as consumers tried to opt for both healthier and more ethical purchases.
In general the report, which was co-authored by The Future Foundation and The New Economics Foundation, also highlighted that criticism of factory labour standards in developing countries was influencing consumers, although a lack of ethically produced goods meant that spending patterns had been inhibited.