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Home » News » China (almost) Ends Pre-Market Animal Testing for Cosmetics (July 2020 Update)

China (almost) Ends Pre-Market Animal Testing for Cosmetics (July 2020 Update)

China animal testing poster

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We finally have some great news coming from China on the question of animal testing for cosmetics.

From January 1, 2021, imported non-special use cosmetics such as regular haircare products, makeup and perfume will no longer have to be tested on animals in the Chinese laboratories.

This update refers to the infamous mandatory pre-market animal testing requirement for all brands that sell cosmetics products in physical stores in mainland China.

This is an excerpt from a statement by the Humane Society International:

In a move applauded by global animal protection leader Humane Society International, China’s State Council has finalized regulations that significantly modernize cosmetic safety assessment and lay critical groundwork for removal of the longstanding requirement to animal test all imported ordinary cosmetics, a practice which in the past decade has consumed between 50,000 and more than 120,000 rabbits each year.

Effective Jan. 1, 2021, imported ordinary cosmetics such as shampoo, blusher, mascara and perfume may no longer have to be animal tested for eye and skin irritation in Chinese laboratories. Ordinary cosmetics make up the bulk of personal care products imported to China; so-called “special” cosmetics will still require animal testing.

The cruelty free community celebrates this awesome decision by the Chinese authorities to finally make a move towards a more ethical cosmetics market.

However, there is some confusion as to what all of this means.

Does this mean that brands that sell in China are now cruelty free?

Unfortunately, no.

This is why brands that sell in mainland China are still not cruelty free:

1. Pre-market animal testing will still be performed for special-use products.

Special-use products are those that claim certain effects, such as:

  • hair growth products
  • hair dye
  • hair removal products
  • deodorants
  • whitening products
  • sun block

Brands that sell special use products will still have their products tested on animals before being able to sell them on the Chinese cosmetics market.

2. Post-market animal testing may still be performed on cosmetics in mainland China.

Post-market animal testing basically means that the products are pulled from the shelves and tested on animals.

In 2019, China stopped requiring routine post-market animal testing, but non-routine post-market animal testing is still performed.

However, it can still happen when there are client complaints and health concerns regarding cosmetics products.

Also, keep in mind that all of these law relaxations refer to having mandatory animal testing for cosmetics.

Unethical treatment of animals for testing in the cosmetics industry is still not banned in China, meaning that companies that sell there can still perform tests on animals.


Although this is a step in the right direction, the fight for animal rights in the cosmetics industry is not over yet.

Companies are researching alternative testing methods, but animal testing is still the default option for a lot of tests on cosmetics.

This great news is proof that going cruelty free does make an impact and can change the way brands and authorities treat animals.

By going cruelty free, we tell the brands that we’re against animal testing and that animal welfare is important to us as their customers.

The pressure from the customers and the cruelty free movement forces brands and whole countries to change animal testing policies, laws and regulations, which saves animal lives results in a better worlds for our fellow earthlings.

To learn more about animal testing in the cosmetics industry, check out our post on 11 facts about animal testing for cosmetics

And now, we’d like to hear from you:

What brands would you love to see go cruelty free soon?

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