Recently, news broke that China may be making adjustments to their animal testing laws in regards to cosmetics. Any changes to the animal testing laws there would be a huge step forward as currently, animal testing is required on law for all beauty and cosmetic items. The potential change that could go into effect in June, 2014 applies to “non-special use cosmetics”. It would allow brands the option to substantiate product safety using existing safety data for raw ingredients, or European Union-validated non-animal tests instead of having to submit product samples to the government for testing animals.
To catch up on the background, please read China Plans to Phase Out Mandatory Cosmetics Animal Testing and Updates on China’s Potential Change in Animal Testing Laws.
So what exactly are special use cosmetics and non-special use cosmetics?
According to the Chemical Inspection Regulatory Service (CIRS), non-special use cosmetics are actually a wide variety of common items. General hair care, nail care, cosmetics, perfumes, and skin care all can potentially fall under non-special use. The potential changes would meant that brands would have the option to submit alternative tests to the Chinese government instead of paying them to test these items on animals.
Special use cosmetics are products for hair growth, hair dye, hair perm, hair removal, breast shaping, fitness, deodorizing, spots removal, sun block, and items with skin-whitening and skin pigmentation reduction claims. If the propose change happens, these items would still be required by law to be tested on animals in China. As would items with new cosmetic ingredients.
This may make things potentially more confusing for brands. A regular skin care product with no special ingredients is one they could potentially submit alternative test results for. While a skin care product with claims of skin pigmentation reduction or SPF would fall under special use. If you take a look at your own beauty stash, odds are that you have a lot of products that would fall under special use.
Please note that if this change goes into effect, it does not mean that the brands will have to stop testing on animals or letting the government test on animals on their behalf. It means that brands will have the option to submit alternative tests for specific products. These alternative tests must be European Union-validated.
If this change is made, it’s still a great step. Just the fact that the Chinese government agencies are willing to have talks about a change is a great step! Sometimes starting that conversation is the best place to start.