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Animal Testing and China – What You Need to Know

Animal Testing and China - What You Need to Know

When it comes to animal testing and China, there’s a lot of information out there. There is also a lot of incorrect information as well. The amount that there is to consume is quite overwhelming and intimidating. Often things are worded in a way where you’re not quite sure exactly what to believe. Especially when it comes to reading statements from brands about if they sell in China, where animal testing is currently required by law.

One main goal of Logical Harmony has always been about education. It’s important to know what you buy and what you are supporting. By educating yourself about animal testing and China, you are taking an important step in becoming a better educated and more empowered consumer. In this post, I explain my understanding of animal testing on products and how it relates to China. Please note that this is based on my research of animal rights organizations (such as Humane Society International), cruelty free awareness organizations (such as Leaping Bunny, Vegan Action, and Cruelty Free International), as well as public documentation about the laws in China.

A common belief is that any cosmetic item that is manufactured and sold in China is tested on animals. However, this simply is not the case. This is a great summary of the process, but it doesn’t cover all the details.

  • Products that are manufactured in China, but not sold in China, are not required to be tested on animals. A company can manufacture their products in China and maintain their cruelty free status. You can read more about that in the post Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?.
  • In general, it’s only products that are being sold in China that are required to be tested on animals. However…
  • Not all products sold in China are required to be tested on animals. Only specific products. Yet, it seems impossible to find a list of what these products are. The general rule of thumb is that if it’s sold in China, it’s probably tested on animals.
  • Some companies make lines or brands that are exclusive to China for this reason. For example, a company may manufacture products in two plants. One for an exclusive Chinese market and another for sale elsewhere. The products come from the same company, but they may claim that those sold in the US and Europe are cruelty free. Does this mean that the brand is truly cruelty free? In the eyes of Logical Harmony, it does not.
  • Finished and packaged products can be manufactured elsewhere and shipped into China for sale without being tested on animals. I’ve read that there are a lot of restrictions and fees to do this, so most companies do not go the extra mile here. It’s also important to note that finished product doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a finished and packaged product. So a product could be finished, but still in a non packaged form when it’s imported into China. In this case, it’s likely to assume that it is tested on animals.
  • Products can be made in Hong Kong and sold there without being tested on animals at all. Since Hong Kong is part of China, and also not, it doesn’t have the same testing laws but is often considered China when it comes to labeling. So a product could be “made” or “sold” in China when the company really means Hong Kong.

Companies who do sell in China often try to make animal testing requirements in China sound less restrictive than they really are. In many cases, these brands even continue to state that they are cruelty free. The reason for this is because the animal testing is conducted by a 3rd party and not the brand itself. The brand still pays for the tests and is aware that they are occuring, but since they are to comply with local and regional laws they try to make it sound as if it is not an optional thing. Many brands do not sell in China and have built up a very large customer base without having to test on animals.

The reason that many companies seem to be moving their products and manufacturing to China is simply to tap into a new market. They can manufacture their products for cheap (or are maybe already doing so) and sell to a new consumer market. I received a few really informative articles from Phyrra about the economy in China that may effect the future stance of companies. China’s Economy Likely To Bottom Out This Quarter,  Advisor Says from Bloomberg, China Cuts Lending Rate Amid Economic Downturn from NPR, China’s Economy Cools, Perhaps More Than Planned from NPR and Three Frightening Phrases You Should Understand from NPR are the articles that she sent my way. These articles all indicate that companies who have changed their stance on animal testing in order to tap into the market in China may not get the profits that they were hoping for. We can only hope!

According to PETA, steps are being taken in China that could change the future. I suggest that you read China to Approve Non-Animal Cosmetics Tests to learn more.

Many vegan and cruelty free blogs have chosen to no longer endorse any products that are manufactured or sold in China. I give these bloggers kudos for doing so! It seems that you can track which companies may be changing their policy on animal testing by their public stance towards China. I completely respect the decision of these bloggers and think that it’s great that they are standing behind their personal beliefs so much.

I also want to say again that if anyone has any additional information I would love to hear it! The more educated we can make ourselves as consumers the better. We control where our money goes and it’s important to not forget the power that money has to these cosmetic companies. As many companies who have changed their animal testing stance to sell in China have shown, the possibility for revenue will often overshadow the publicized moral stance of a company when it comes down to it. Take the power and let these companies know where you stand.

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20 Comments

  • Reply Alexa Jones (FoodBeautyandaDogLA) Thursday - July 16, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Excellent explanation! Thanks for this 🙂 I’m going to pass it on to Humanely Chic and bookmark it so I can add a link later on my own blog!

  • Reply Elisabeth Monday - October 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Does the law apply if a consumer in China orders a cosmetic product from a non-Chinese online retailer? Like, a brand’s own online shop or an online beauty retailer like BeautyBay? If so, then I don’t see the problem with ending their sales in countries that have this law…

    • Reply Tashina Combs Sunday - January 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      It depends. Brands are able to import a finished and packaged good to China, but it is often expensive. Most brands do not go this route and instead opt to sell in China instead.

  • Reply Angel Monday - April 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you for all of this information. I’ve been discovering lots on my own and often times find it all overwhelming but am still trying to get it right and do the right thing/support the right companies. I am currently researching and switching out any “cruelty free” companies that sell to China. QUESTION: “MURAD” I love their products. They claim to not test on animals. I want to believe them. On their website they list their international distributors including Hong Kong, but not China. Does “Hong Kong” require mandatory animal testing? Thanks for your reply. ~Angel

    • Reply Tashina Combs Monday - April 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      Hi Angel,

      At this time, Hong Kong does not require animal testing like China does.

  • Reply Lena Thursday - December 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Can you please explain me, does the company pay for animal testing of it ‘s products sold in China or the state?

  • Reply Miranda @ Slashed Beauty Thursday - October 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Awesome article, answered a lot of my questions. But my general understanding is even if these companies go through the lengths of having separate plants for their China and USA/EU markets, the brand itself wouldn’t be considered CF, am I right?

  • Reply Catherine Sunday - June 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I absolutely agree with you – the sheer amount of information on this topic can be overwhelming and it can be confusing trying to figure out what the facts are. I think that posts like these are so valuable in raising awareness and getting people inspired to pay attention to what and where they buy!

  • Reply Kat Wednesday - June 20, 2012 at 7:35 am

    As someone who tries her best (since there are always nasty surprises it seems) to only wear cruelty-free makeup, I was pretty versed in the China issue when I wrote my own piece on Urban Decay’s new venture into the animal testing zone–here’s the link: http://www.katoninetales.com/2012/06/urban-decay-cosmetics-surrenders-its.html –but you gave me some new tidbits that I wasn’t aware of.

    Thanks so much for sharing the info!

  • Reply Laura Tuesday - June 19, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Fab post!

    It’s so, SO hard to find out the real truth in all this though, so many legal loopholes etc. Also, when a product says ‘Not tested on animals’ or such, that will mean the FINAL product isnt………but perhaps every single ingredient in that final product HAS been tested on animals.

    I worked on a Programme for the BBC which was about finding out about animal by-product in everyday things and it was quite shocking…..people have no idea!!

    x Laura x

    • Reply admin Tuesday - June 19, 2012 at 6:34 am

      Hi Laura,

      I agree. There are TONS of legal loopholes and lots of wording that is used to get around the issue.

      Since I only use vegan products, I have an extremely detailed process for checking on brands. You can read more about that in this post – http://logicalharmony.net/how-to-find-out-if-products-are-animal-friendly/
      I never go by word-of-mouth information and always get details that I need from a company before I decide to support them or not. Even when it comes to writing about brands here, either positive or negative. It’s all based on how the company answers my questions.

  • Reply jessica Monday - June 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    thanks for this awesome post. I was wondering about much of this while I was changing my animal testing policies to exclude products sold in china. many websites of companies will tell you whether their products are sold in china.

  • Reply Retrodiva Monday - June 18, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Fabulous resource, Tashina! It’s so complicated to navigate through all the confusing information, and you’ve given us some great resources. Thanks!

  • Reply Kath Sunday - June 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks so much for clearing this up. I asked the question at BBC earlier because I was confused with “made” and “sold” in China. Now I’m more enlightened.xo

  • Reply Phyrra Sunday - June 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you so much for blogging about this!

  • Reply SUZANNE FULLER Sunday - June 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    TASHINA,
    Thanks for blogging about this. It sounds like the animal testing requirement walks a very thin line in China. But, as you say, it is important that all of us exercise our due diligence and find out more about individual companies and where we are putting our support, and money. I’m glad that doors of discussion have been opened. Once a debate begins, perhaps change will occur.

    Regards,
    Suzanne

  • Reply Kimmi @ The Plastic Diaries Sunday - June 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I am finding one big problem for us in Australia is that we are closer to China for importing/exporting but we are not told if our products are coming from a batch made for China (and tested on animals) or made from a batch for USA/UK (and not tested on animals).

    I would like beauty companies to just be transparent and truthful with this information. For many people, it won’t change whether they buy their products or not. As consumers, we just want to be informed and not treated like children.

    • Reply Acey Thursday - July 11, 2013 at 1:21 am

      All round agree! I am with you on this one!

  • Reply Jen Mathews Sunday - June 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    This is great Tashina – thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Phyrra Sunday - June 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you for putting this post together and explaining everything. I feel like it’s really hard, as a consumer, to navigate what is going on out there and what products / companies are testing. I truly appreciate your efforts in helping to educate on this topic.

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