China ends mandatory animal testing of imported ‘general’ cosmetics

Read Time:   |  8th March 2021

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China is removing the mandatory animal testing requirements for imported 'general' cosmetics, a huge step forward for cruelty-free beauty.


At present, while animal testing for cosmetics is banned in Europe, if a brand is sold in China this means it is not cruelty-free, because China requires animal testing by law.

However, from 1st May 2021, China will remove the mandatory animal testing requirements for imported ‘general’ cosmetics.

This means that products that do not have claims such as ‘anti-ageing, skin whitening or anti-acne’ will not need to go through animal testing when imported into the country.

‘General’ cosmetics such as shampoo, body wash, lotions and make-up comprise the bulk of the market, so this is a huge step forward for cruelty-free beauty.

Moreover, China has also approved two new non-animal methods of cosmetic testing, indicating an animal-free future in the next few years.


‘An enormous step in the right direction’

Speaking in a statement, Cruelty-Free International Chief Executive Michelle Thaw explained:

“This assurance by the Chinese authorities that post-market animal testing is now not normal practice is an enormous step in the right direction and most welcome.

“At this stage, this does not automatically mean that brands can import to China overnight and be cruelty-free, but we are delighted that through co-operation and partnership our aim to end cosmetics animal testing everywhere and forever is coming closer.

“We hope that this will pave the way to actual legislative change that will benefit cruelty-free companies and the Chinese consumer as well as many thousands of animals.”

Special-use products

While ‘general’ cosmetics will be excluded from mandatory animal-testing, ‘special use’ products will still be required to test on animals.

According to the Leaping Bunny Program, this includes hair dyes, hair perming products, freckle-removing and whitening products, sunscreens, anti-hair loss products and cosmetics claiming new efficacy.

Therefore, the fight for the end to all animal testing is not over, and as PETA Science Policy Manager Dr Julia Baines says, “animals used in testing in that country still need our help.”

We applaud the Chinese government for this giant leap towards a cruelty-free future, but we aren’t giving up fighting until animal testing is obsolete. 

Not sure which skincare products are vegan?
Here is our ultimate guide to vegan skincare.

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