For brands who strive to be cruelty-free, whether because of their own ethics or pressure from socially-conscious consumers, there has always been one major hurdle... China.
China is the only country that requires, by law, cosmetics to be tested on animals. China is also the largest cosmetics market, making up almost 20% of the global market with over $3 billion in revenue. This means that in order to be truly cruelty-free, brands have to forego a huge percentage of the beauty market. Even if they don’t test on animals themselves, in order to sell to the Chinese market, cosmetics brands must pay for their products to undergo third-party tests on animals.
However, things look to be changing with news this week that China is taking a step away from compulsory animal testing. Chinese agency Gansu Province National Medical Products Association announced that post-market animal testing would no longer be a requirement on finished domestic or imported cosmetic products. 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 Humane Society International tweeted about the news earlier this week, saying that the news was, “encouraging but not yet a guarantee that no animal testing will ever again happen post-market, and pre-market animal testing for imported cosmetics remains as before.” While animal tests are not listed for routine post-market surveillance, they continue, in the case of non-routine tests, for example, a consumer complaint about a product, “animal testing could still be the default.”
So, while animal testing remains very much a part of the Chinese cosmetic market, this will undoubtedly be seen as a step in the right direction by animal lovers and cruelty-free advocates.