China Ends Cosmetic Animal Testing From 1st of January 2020

Currently, the Chinese government requires tests on animals for all imported cosmetics and any special use cosmetics, regardless of where they were manufactured. New regulations drafted by China’s National Medical Product Administration, if passed, will ban gruesome animal tests—sparing thousands of animals. The new legislation is slated to take effect on 1st of January, 2020.

In the past, China’s post-market process involved mandatory tests on animals, as well as the pre-market animal tests required of all cosmetics before they hit the market. With these new changes, that second step of animal testing is removed, although pre-market regulations remain unchanged. The Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) has announced that the Chinese government has approved nine non-animal based methods, with the new legislation coming into play in 2020.

Explaining the New Law

  • Foreign imported ordinary cosmetics – still require animal testing
  • Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics – animal testing no longer an absolute requirement (makeup, fragrances, skin, hair and nail care products).
  • Both foreign imported and domestically produced ‘special use’ cosmetics – still require animal testing (hair dyes, perms and hair growth products, deodorants, sunscreens, skin-whitening creams, and other products that make a functional claim on the label)
  • Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics for foreign export only – have never required animal testing
  • Any cosmetic bought in China via a foreign e-commerce website – has never required animal testing.

Animal Testing Law on Online Shopping

If a company sells to China they are still required to by law to be tested by law to have their products tested on animals before they’re sold on the market. Therefore, brands such as L’Oreal, MAC and Nars, to name a few examples, are still tested on animals. The animal testing law does not apply to online shopping; it only applies to products that are physically sold in the country. If a Chinese customer purchases cosmetics on a foreign shopping site, that product doesn’t have to be tested on animals. The only safe way to know if a company complies with the animal testing law is to be aware of what brands are physically sold in China. Imported products can continue to be directly mailed by foreign companies to consumers in the Chinese mainland for personal use with no animal testing requirement.

Pressure is increasing for China to adapt, as animal testing gets banned in more jurisdictions, including Europe, Australia, India and Israel. In the U.S., it has long been abandoned from standard practice. However, China is moving towards a complete ban on animal testing, helped along by nonprofit organizations and international cosmetics brands that are popularising alternative testing methods.

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