China Takes First Step Towards Ending Animal Testing

China Takes First Step Towards Ending Animal Testing

Today China enacted the first steps to reduce animal testing. This is not a ban on animal testing, but the start of potential changes to the animal testing laws in China. Previously it was required by law that all cosmetics sold in China be tested on animals.

The new regulations state that ordinary cosmetics produced and sold in China will no longer be required to be tested on animals. This change will affect only pre-market items, meaning before they are delivered onto store shelves or to consumers as a finished product.

What exactly does this mean? 

The first thing to understand is what ordinary cosmetics are. These items are also called non-special use. As defined by the Chemical Inspection Regulatory Service (CIRS), ordinary cosmetics include general hair care, nail care, cosmetics, perfumes and skin care. Under this change, only ordinary cosmetics that are manufactured and sold only in China will be allowed to use alternatives to animal testing.

Non-ordinary cosmetics will still be required to be tested on animals. This applies to items that are manufactured and sold only in China, as well as those sold in other markets. Non-ordinary items, also called special use, are products that claim to have a functional use on the label. This includes hair growth, hair dye, hair removal, hair perms, fitness, deodorizing, sun block, skin-whitening, and skin pigmentation.  A glance through many skin care, hair care, and cosmetic bags around the globe will likely reveal many items and brands making these claims.

To learn more about what these definitions mean and how they could impact brands with this change, please read China’s Cosmetic Definitions – How could they affect animal testing laws?

Another great article for background is Updates on China’s Potential Change in Animal Testing Laws.

Brands producing ordinary cosmetics will now have the option to use non-animal test methods that are deemed valid by the European Union. They can, if they like, still submit products to the Chinese government for animal testing. If a brand produces some non-ordinary cosmetics, these items will still be required to be tested on animals.

This change will not affect international brands. Brands who sell their products outside of China will still have to agree to mandatory animal testing of their products. This means that many major cosmetics companies, such as L’Oreal, Revlon, Coty, Estee Lauder, MAC, and more will not have a change in their animal testing stance.

At the same time as they are simplifying these pre-market testing requirements, post-marketing animal testing requirements are being increased. Because of this, many brands who sell in China will still be required to submit their products to regulatory animal testing. This also means that ordinary cosmetics may still be tested on animals by the Chinese government.

This will have no affect on brands who currently manufacture items in China but export all of the items and do not sell their products there. These brands have not had to submit to animal testing and will not have to submit their products to animal testing in the future.

This will also not affect online retailers who ship in finished and packaged goods into China from a foreign source. These items are currently not required to be tested on animals, and they will not be required to be tested on animals with this change.

The chances in China are still a great step forward. It’s important to keep pushing for more change!

(18) Comments

  1. Is still mac testing on animals? I feel i bit confused caused i live in europe and there is a law that forbides animal testin. So any profuct entenig europe must be cruelty free?

    1. Hi Elena,

      MAC does still test on animals, as do many large brands. The EU ban on animal testing was not a full ban in the sense that just because a brand is sold in the EU does not mean that it is cruelty free. The EU ban did not effect brands who test on animals outside of the EU, as required by law, etc. You may want to read this post to give you more information – What Does the EU Ban on Animal Testing Mean for Brands Selling Where Testing is Required by Law?

  2. Well, at least a step in the right direction! Thank you for sharing, Tashina!!!

  3. Who is responsible for talking to the Chinese government about the possibility of changing their animal testing requirements?

    1. Several animal organizations are speaking with various animal organizations there. It’s unclear to me who weighs in on their decision making process though.

  4. This is definitely a step in the right direction!

  5. I’m not sure I understand why it doesn’t effect International brands like L’Oreal!?

    1. Right now, it only effects brands who manufacture products and sell them just in China.

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