Back in 2019, China began moving away from post-market animal testing, which was previously required by law. Today (May 1), the Chinese government enacted the next step in its journey to cruelty-free cosmetics, ending all mandatory animal testing for a majority of general cosmetics.
First announced in March this year, via a notice posted on the National Medical Products Administration website, the change will allow companies to market most imported cosmetics — including shampoo, body wash, lipstick, and makeup — without the formerly required animal testing. This is a pretty significant change, given that China is the second-largest cosmetics market after the US, bringing in more than £4 billion in revenue. Previously, cruelty-free companies (such as Fenty Beauty) were restricted from importing products directly, due to the requirement that they pay for their products to be tested on animals.
However, the newly-relaxed regulations don’t mean the end of animal testing in China. As the RSPCA points out, they don’t include products classified as “special cosmetics”, which include hair dyes, hair perming products, sunscreens, and anti-hair loss products. Companies will also have to take a series of steps to apply for exemptions to the animal testing requirements, and those that don’t qualify will have to continue paying to test their products on animals.
“We believe there’s absolutely no justification for causing animals to suffer for testing cosmetics, and consumers across the globe have shown that they feel the same,” says the head of the RSPCA’s animals in science department, Dr Penny Hawkins. “Whilst we of course welcome this step forward for China, globally we still have a long way to go before we see our ultimate aim realised of all animal experiments being replaced with humane alternatives.”
The organisation’s international head, Paul Littlefair, also welcomes China’s move to ban compulsory testing, saying: “This move is another signal that the Chinese authorities are increasingly seeing animal welfare as an important part of the country’s development.”