china animal testing

It might be shocking to learn that animal testing is required by law in China for all foreign cosmetics companies. This means that all the big American and European cosmetics brands that are currently sold in China, must undergo animal testing. Some of these big brands include MAC, Clinique, and even Benefit.

Here’s everything you need to know about animal testing in China.

Why sell in China?

China is an increasingly interesting market for many American and European cosmetics brands. Last year alone, the cosmetics market in China was worth over 26 billion – and the sales are rising quickly.

This makes it very attractive for companies. 

Here are only some of the companies that are currently selling their products in China, and are not considered to be cruelty-free.

Brands That Sell In China
  • Chanel
  • Dior
  • Givenchy
  • Guerlain
  • Estee Lauder
  • MAC
  • Clinique
  • Benefit
  • Lancome
  • Shiseido
  • Calvin Klein
  • Covergirl
  • Maybelline
  • Revlon
  • Rimmel London
  • Avon
  • Mary Kay
  • Vichy
  • La Roche Posay
  • Avene
  • Caudalie
  • L’Occitane
  • Burberry
  • Garnier
  • Michael Kors
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Olay
  • Origins
  • L’Oreal
  • Stila
  • Tom Ford
  • OPI
  • Nivea
  • Neutrogena
  • EOS
  • Aerin

What does Chinese Law say?

Unfortunately, Chinese law requires mandatory animal testing on all cosmetics products that are manufactured outside of China. This includes:

  • Makeup
  • Perfume
  • Skincare
  • Nail Products
  • Hair Proucts
  • Hair Dye
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Whitening Products

On June 30th 2014, China lifted the animal testing requirement for cosmetics manufactured within the country. While this is a big and important step, it’s important to emphasize that cosmetics manufactured outside of China are still confined to the same animal testing law.

Also, even though testing on animals isn’t mandatory anymore for local products, it’s not banned. So even though there are alternative testing methods available for those products, animal testing might still be preferred.

One more condition: this new rule doesn’t apply to hair dye, deodorant, and sunscreen.


Online Shopping

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.

Mainland China vs. Hong Kong


We use the term “mainland China” to refer to the People’s Republic of China, which does not include Hong Kong.

The animal testing law does not apply to cosmetics sold in Hong Kong. This is a very important factor to consider!

For instance, Lush sells products in Hong Kong, but not in the rest of China. This could be the case for other brands that are “sold in China”. Whenever I ask a company if its products are sold in China, I always include Hong Kong as an exception.


Also not subject to this law are products sold in Chinese airports. This is how The Body Shop tried to dodge the law, but they removed their stores from China’s airports after learning that animal testing might still be conducted even on products that already hit the shelves. It’s therefore not safe to assume that airport stores will not test on animals, and if a company sells products in Chinese airports, it can’t be considered cruelty-free.

Bottom Line

As long as China will not entirely lift its mandatory animal testing law, it’s important not to support brands that take part in animal testing in order to sell their products in China: if a company “only tests on animals when required by law”, it’s not cruelty-free!

Also, it’s equally important to support brands that refuse to partake in the suffering of animals even if that decision is detrimental to their profits. Don’t hesitate to take a look at my list of cruelty-free brands, as well as read the rest of the Cruelty-Free 101 series!

From The Cruelty-Free 101 Series:

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31 Comments on "Animal Testing In China: Required For Foreign Cosmetics Companies"

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I went to Sephora to purchase a lipstick, many were pricey so I specifically asked someone working there Im looking for makeup thats cruelty-free. One of them told me Sephora brand doesn’t test on animals in the US only in China but that they get their products from US. So I purchased a nude lipstick (half the price of the brand I really wanted) Now Im thinking I should return it back because I feel like Im supporting China cruelty makeup. Any thoughts??

Suzi Scheler

Definitely return it in my opinion. You asked for cruelty-free makeup, and testing on animals in China is still testing on animals.

Did you look at my Sephora list? For lipstick I’d say Bite, UD, Tarte, Too Faced, NARS.


thanks I returned it the next day and bought OCC (vegan too)

aLe cci

Tarte was bought out by Kose. UD by L’Oréal and Nars by Shiseido which all of them test on animals.


Nars is now selling in china.
Try Kat Von D instead 🙂

Amyh Swan

MY OPINION: If you’re buying in the US, then you’re not paying for a product tested in CHINA. Same formula, but not the same product, so you paid for a cruelty-free item. But that’s only my opinion.

Suzi Scheler

Hi Amyh! That’s definitely a valid opinion and I’ve heard other cruelty-free shoppers state the same.


… but isn’t that still supporting cruelty companies?

Amyh Swan

It’s not their fault. Those are unfortunately China’s laws.

Suzi Scheler

I would suggest Paula’s Choice, because a lot of their products cater to reactive skin. They also use ingredients that aren’t generally irritating, and they list all potential allergens on each product. I used to love Avene too before I switched. 🙂


Thank you! I think I’ll try them. 🙂

Suzi Scheler

Ridiculous statement from Avon! I don’t know how they can call themselves cruelty-free.

Suzi Scheler

Hi Katrina! I’ll check out your channel. 🙂

I chose not to post about that development because honestly, it’s too vague to be meaningful at this point. There’s no timeline at all, not even a long-term date. I believe it was HSI who emailed me about it and they didn’t get back to me when I asked for details. Hopefully the Chinese government is actually going to take the steps though!

Suzi Scheler

Who pissed in your cereal? I’m allowed to leave a diplomatic reply even if I disagree with their opinion.

Tawny Ross

Does anyone know where essential oils fit into the testing laws in China? I’m finding some sites say it’s required as well and others say it doesn’t apply.

Suzi Scheler

I definitely don’t consider a brand to be cruelty-free is they sell in China or test where required by law. It comes down to a choice, and there are plenty of brands who chose not to sell in China to keep their cruelty-free status.

Yvonne Walker

Hi please could you help? I use cruelty free products but have been told that more and more shops that are in the Uk are opening up in China or have been there for a while like Tesco, Next, House of Fraser, H&M etc etc so does that mean because they actually have stores in China that there products are tested on animals or not because i shop in Tesco so if they test their products i will boycott them thanks.

Denise Estêvão

Dear Suzi, please may I ask what is the source of this information? I live in Macau, China, for 3 years now, and is very difficult for me to find “government valid” policies regarding animal cosmetic testing in China. I know that Hong Kong is an exception, but how about Macau? Because both Lush and The Body Shop operate here, and since I cannot find what I consider valid research I am asking for your sources so I can do my part as a human being and protect the voiceless. With much admiration for your work and my kindest regards.

Virginia Hamilton

So sad that too faced sold out to Estee Lauder.

Virginia Hamilton

Would like info about Jeunesse Global and China connection.


Hi, I’ve decided to go cruelty free 😀
I have Catrice eyeshadow palette at home and it’s made in China and Catrice is cruelty free, so if a product is made in China it doesn’t have to be tested on animals?


I moved to Japan recently, and it is insanely difficult to find cruelty free products because the majority of companies sell their products in China. I’m sure if I lived in a big city, I would probably find an American or Canadian brand that doesn’t test on animals; however, being in a small town has made it difficult. I am about to run out of the products I brought over with me from America; so, will need to find something quick.


L’Oréal sent a bunch of Youtubers to their labs in France and had a whole spiel about how they haven’t tested on animals since 2014, and that the recent changes in Chinese law in December mean that L’Oréal makeup products are no longer tested on animals at all anywhere in the world. This is BS, right?


Which (if any) of these companies are working with China to prove there are better methods than to test on animals? How do we find out an answer to this question? I’m sure there are many companies who disagree with the law, don’t you agree?

I see that Chantecaille are now stocked and sold by Lane Crawford in mainland China. I know that Lane Crawford are an Hong Kong based business, who have expanded into mainland China. I also note that Chantecaille claim ‘cruelty-free’ on every page of their website (at the foot). Are they importing into Hong Kong and cross-border supplying to Lane Crawford in mainland China – thereby, I believe, bypassing the animal testing requirement, or is this another case of a premium, once cruelty-free brand BSing everyone? … Might you also confirm Cire Trudon are not genuinely cruelty-free? Many thanks for you… Read more »

I was curious to know if online brands could still be sold to people in China without animal testing and found what I was looking for. Also, thanks for the list of what brands do sell there.

Hi, my daughter has recently moved to Shanghai to live and work for a year. She is vegan and always uses cruelty free products. She has taken a supply with her but not enough to last her for a year! She has asked me to send her some shower gels, shampoos etc. from the UK but I’ve been told that so can’t post liquids, gels, creams. If she orders products on-line many won’t deliver to mainland China. Any suggestions or advice as to what we can do – short of booking an airline ticket and taking them out there in… Read more »

Just wanted to point out that your map is incorrect, as Taiwan is not part of china.