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This is what China's new animal testing laws mean for the beauty industry

It’s a start.

CHINA HAS LONG been criticised for its attitude towards animal testing, leading many makeup lovers and beauty influencers alike to boycott brands who sell in the country.

shutterstock_788809417 Source: Shutterstock/ARTFULLY PHOTOGRAPHER

However, there’s been a positive new development this month, as Chinese authorities announced post-market animal testing would no longer be a requirement on finished domestic or imported cosmetic products. 

What are the grounds for animal testing in China?

As broken down by the Human Society, these are the requirements for animal testing as they stand:

  1. Foreign imported ordinary cosmetics – still require animal testing
  2. Domestically produced ordinary* cosmetics – animal testing no longer an absolute requirement (*makeup, fragrances, skin, hair and nail care products).
  3. 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)
  4. Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics for foreign export only – have never required animal testing
  5. Any cosmetic bought in China via a foreign e-commerce website – has never required animal testing.

Ok, what does this new change mean so?

Chinese agency Gansu Province National Medical Products Association made the announcement that pre-market testing on cosmetic products is no longer required.

According to animal-rights organization Cruelty Free International (CFI), the decision will have a major impact on the cosmetics industry and animal lives alike.

“This assurance by the Chinese authorities that post-market animal testing is now not normal practice is an enormous step in the right direction and most welcome,” CFI Chief Executive Michele Thew said.

So, if China imports a cruelty-free brand, we can take it at face value?

Not exactly: 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. (Products ordered online by someone in China don’t have to be tested).

Therefore, brands such as L’Oreal, MAC and Nars, to name a few examples, are still tested on animals.

According to Thew: “This assurance by the Chinese authorities that post-market animal testing is now not normal practice is an enormous step in the right direction and most welcome.

“At this stage, this does not automatically mean that brands can import to China overnight and be cruelty free, but we are delighted that through co-operation and partnership our aim to end cosmetics animal testing everywhere and forever is coming closer.”

“It remains important that cruelty free companies participated in our pilot project with Cruelty Free International to ensure that no animal testing is conducted during the National Medical Products Association product filing process,” Mette Knudsen, regulatory expert and CEO of Shanghai-based Knudsen&CRC, clarified.

We hope that this will pave the way to actual legislative change that will benefit cruelty free companies and the Chinese consumer as well as many thousands of animals.”

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