Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty Free?

Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty Free?

One of the questions that I get asked most frequently is, “Are cosmetics made in China cruelty-free?”. Many are aware that China currently requires animal testing on most beauty products that are sold there, but a lot of people are still confused about if products made in China are cruelty-free or not. It can be confusing to seek out cruelty-free brands and then see “Made in China” on their packaging.

Many cruelty-free brands carry “made in China” labels on their packaging and products. I often get asked if, just as when selling in China, this means the brand does take part in animal testing. Because this is something I get asked several times a day, I thought it was important to take some time and answer the question here on Logical Harmony.

This is the most recent update of a post I originally published on May 7, 2014.

Are cosmetics made in China cruelty-free? It depends.

The short is answer is yes. Cosmetics made in China are generally cruelty-free. You don’t need to worry if your favorite cruelty-free brand has “made in China” on their packaging as it does not automatically mean that these brands are tested on animals as required by law.

That said, it’s not black and white. Just because a brand makes their products in China does not mean that they are automatically cruelty-free. Brands that are sold in physical stores in China must still comply with their required by law pre-market and post-market animal testing laws.

Can a cruelty-free brand manufacture products in China and still be cruelty-free? Yes!

Yes! These brands can be cruelty-free. No animal testing is currently required for brands to manufacture products in China.

Cosmetics that are made in China, but are not sold there, are not subject to the same animal testing laws that impact finished products that are being sold in China. Brands who produce their items in China are able to stay cruelty-free. The required by law animal testing laws in China do not apply to them. This is how so many cruelty-free brands are able to manufacture in China and remain cruelty-free.

An example of this is ELF Cosmetics. ELF products are made in China, but since the brand does not sell in physical stores in China they are able to manufacture there without being impacted by any of the animal testing laws that exist in China.

Are there any exceptions?

Of course. Should a brand manufacture in China and still test on animals or use ingredients that are tested on animals, they cannot be cruelty-free.

Are brands sold in China cruelty-free? Not likely.

Most brands sold in China are not cruelty-free. There are some very rare exceptions, but these are incredibly hard to find, and often do not extend to cosmetic companies. Even if their products are made in China, by selling in China the majority of brands are allowing animal testing to occur on their products.

Often times brands that sell in China continue to state that they are cruelty-free. These brands usually say that they are cruelty-free, except when required to test on animals due to local or regional laws. This is because animal testing in China is conducted by the Government or a 3rd party agency. The brand still knowingly submits their products to be tested on animals and pays for any necessary fees associated with the testing. The government groups in China may also randomly pull their products from shelves for animal testing at any time. However, since they do not conduct the testing themselves, a lot of brands who sell in China continue to claim that they are cruelty-free.

There are some exceptions to this. For example, if a brand does only online sales and ships directly to consumers they do not need to test on animals.

There are also some products that can be made and sold in stores without having to test on animals. This is very rare but it does happen. An example of a brand that does this is beautyblender. While they are found in stores in China, they do not sell their full line there. By selling only their liquid soaps and not their cosmetics, they are able to avoid the post-market animal testing laws. That said, this is a very rare example.

While brands may be able to avoid pre-market animal testing laws by being manufactured in China, brands are not able to avoid post-market animal testing laws. Because of this, cosmetics brands that are sold in physical stores in China are not considered cruelty-free by Logical Harmony.


  1. I was saddened to read some of my cruelty free make up brands with the “Made in China” label and while understand the technicality of the products not subject to the same animal testing laws it bothers me to know that the company is still more concerned with profit as manufacturing in China equals much cheaper labor.

    What I don’t feel comfortable with is not rally knowing where and how the ingredients are being handled. Are they sourced there? Do the ingredients go through the same testing as US laws? I know it sounds dd but i just feel weird putting it on my skin knowing its coming from China, I am very skeptical if the quality of goods would be same as if coming from North America or EU.

    Do you know more details on this?

    1. I think that for this, you would need to talk to each brand individually to find out where their ingredients are sourced and what their practices are. While a lot of products are made in China, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ingredients are being sourced from places there. Brands source from all over the world, so this would really vary from brand to brand.

  2. Well by having any products that are made in China – is still contributing to the problem of harming animals. If we continue to purchase products including cosmetics made in China and the animal testing is government mandated- we are not helping to end this horrible practice. It’s sad. I wish there were more cosmetics made in America that are totally Cruelty Free :(((

    1. Sadly, they are not going to stop animal testing. There may be some changes made to the law, but it’s not going to effect very many brands. To find out more, I would suggest reading these three posts –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.