Is China cruelty-free?

In the cosmetics area, animal testing has been significantly regulated and limited globally in the last years, with some countries being the exception since they have not set any ban or have applied a semi-ban with complicated settings. China is one of the exceptions, with some control of animal testing, after legislation in 2014.

In China, animal testing in the cosmetics market is not forbidden in any case, while in others, it is mandatory. More specifically, the points where testing is required are the importation of "ordinary" cosmetics from abroad, such as makeup, perfume, and skincare products, as well as the importation and the domestic production of "special use" cosmetics, that include hair dyes, deodorant, sunscreen and more. Therefore, even if a company doesn't carry out animal testing, it cannot be considered "cruelty-free" if they export its products to China.

On the contrary, the domestic production of "ordinary" cosmetics, meant for exportation or not, and products bought via the internet in China from abroad, do not require animal testing. However, that does not mean that it is forbidden. It means that it's up to the company's choice to decide.

Thus, it is estimated that 100.000 to 300.000 animals have been used annually in China for animal testing.

According to an announcement in 2020, legislation is ruled to come into force in January of 2021, limiting animal testing practice. More specifically, it will no longer be required to test "ordinary" cosmetics on animals that are imported from abroad. This change, though, refers to the "pre-market" practices, and as a result, after a product has entered China, it could be tested on animals if considered necessary.

This legislation does not restrict testing on imported "special use" cosmetics, which are still mandatory. As much as this critical step towards a "cruelty-free" market is appreciated, it should be emphasized that there need to be more drastic measures for the total ban of animal testing cruelty.