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Myth Debunking: Can Cosmetics Be Cruelty-Free If They’re Made In China?

by Suzana Rose

May 13, 2020

I want to address this question because it keeps popping up in the comments and on our social media.

Spread the word.

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Are cosmetics made in China cruelty-free? In short, just because a beauty product is made in China, does not mean it's tested on animals. Products are only tested on animals if they'e sold in stores in China.

Therefore, a product can be made in China and also completely cruelty-free. Since so many beauty brands manufacture products or packaging in China, it's important to make this distinction. Otherwise, we'd be jumping to conclusions and accusing cruelty-free brands of testing on animals in China, when it's not the case.

The Question

You've asked:

I was under the impression Becca was a cruelty free company, and have recently discovered that the production of my Jaclyn Hill Eyeshadow Palette was Made In China...? China has strict rules and regulations on animal testing cosmetics. How did Becca Cosmetics stay cruelty free with production in China? - Ava

I saw that some of my sisters L.A. Colors beauty products had a label that said "made in China," so does that make L.A. Colors cosmetics non-cruelty-free??? - Hayley

I'm really curious at the moment about Barry M products and whether they are actually cruelty free as I am aware some of their products are made in china? - Claire

The Answer

If you see "Made in China" on your makeup, there's no need to worry.

Products made in China are NOT tested animals. It's only when a beauty brand enters the Chinese market and sells their products in China that it loses its cruelty-free status.

To understand why this is the case, it's important that we understand what China's animal testing law is and why it exists.

The mandatory animal testing law in China aims to protect the people of China. It's a safety measure to ensure that no harmful cosmetics will be sold in China. It's cruel and obsolete, but like all animal testing, the goal is to ensure that products are safe for human use.

Hence why cosmetics are ONLY tested on animals in China if they're going to be SOLD there.

And if you want to dig a little bit deeper...

The current and updated law is this:

  • ALL foreign cosmetics imported into China must undergo animal testing in order to be sold there.
  • SOME cosmetics manufactured in China are able to skip the animal testing in order to be sold there.
  • The animal testing can be bypassed IF the company agrees to use alternative testing methods, and IF they only sell normal cosmetics.
  • Special-use cosmetics such as sunscreens, antiperspirants, hair dye, and whitening products HAVE to be tested on animals even if they're manufactured in China.

China uses both pre-market and post-market animal testing. By selling their products in China, companies agree to both of these practices.

Pre-market testing means that the products are tested on animals before the products are able to hit the shelves.

Post-market testing isn't mandatory, but it can happen: at any moment, the authorities can require that products already on the shelves be tested on animals.

This is why, even if a company manufactures products in China, they can't under any circumstances sell their products in China and remain cruelty-free.

However, they can absolutely manufacture their products in China and remain 100% cruelty-free.

Which Brands Are Cruelty-Free?

Download our list of 600+ verified cruelty-free brands straight to your device. Bring it with you everywhere you go, and never worry about supporting animal testing again. Click here to download

+ Show Comments (29) - Hide Comments (29)
  • Lilit777 says:

    I agree with how important it is to not support China as much as possible. Cruelty free and ETHICAL are equally important to me. Support indie small business brands here in the USA like Colourpop, Notoriously Morbid, Apocalyptic Beauty and others.

  • trena patzer says:

    Just because China isn’t animal testing for other companies why should we support it? Doesn’t China sell the product that they’re testing anyways? I will not support how workers are treated for these gazillionaires. Working long hours and underpaid doesn’t seem kind to me.

  • Sandra Milligan says:

    I only buy cruelty free products but there is a bigger issue here. Do we want to buy anything from a country with such a poor record on human rights? Tianamen Square? The genocide of its muslim population many of who now live in concentration camps. Not to mention poor working conditions. Its almost impossible to buy any goods not made in China ( anyone who tries beware of anything marked PRC ) I try very hard not to and its a minefield.

  • Anja says:

    Thank you so much for this article, it was soo helpful!???????? Thanks a lot:)
    Kind regards,

  • I have noticed that a Fenty Beauty Cosmic glitter gloss has a label at the bottom saying made in PRC – People’s Republic of China!! This is not acceptable is it as they project such a squeaky clean image

  • Susan Murrietta says:

    I’ve recently begun making the switch to cruelty-free. Even prior to making the switch, I did not buy products made in China because I’d heard that they did not have as stringent practices for using safe ingredients. SO now I’m wondering if that is ot the case for products that are cruelty-free but are in China. Any insight?

  • Sofía Ureta says:

    I have a question

    If a product only sells on internet and doesn’t have their products available on stores, it can be considered cruelty free for certain products?
    For example products by catalog

    Thanks sooo much

    And sorry for my English, it’s 5 am in Chile ????????

  • Shan says:

    When we are thinking about cruelty free we should also think about human cruelty. Living and working conditions in PRC are deplorable. Conditions won’t change unless we stand up for all of those who can’t defend themselves.

  • Louise says:

    Thank you for this and for getting straight to the point too!!

  • Sabrina says:

    Loose wording, China is savage, they don’t care about human welfare. I will never support ANY cosmetics from them because its telling them that we’re stupid enough to by their garbage even when it contains feces, toxins and is more than likely tested on animals. China is dishonest and cares about 1 thing, your money.

  • Marco says:

    Mink eyelashes can be free of cruelty???

  • Karolina says:

    It’s still disgusting that companies move factories for an extra income. It’s wrong for local economy. You can’t be sure what they do if there is no inspection. If I wanted to buy China poop I would just order some poop on Alibaba. I’m paying more to have quality and to support some values…

  • Nyse says:

    Such a relief to know that! thought a brand was cruelty free, then saw the made in China an I completely panicked! Thanks for the reassurance

  • Ginder Dhaliwal says:

    Thank you for clarifying this issue. I was a bit worried as I bought a Nyx foundation which said made in China.

  • Deb Whitworth says:

    I’ve used clinique for over 45 years. Sensitive skin and just about everything else, including Arbonne, causes an allergic reaction. I’d hate to quit using clinique but I will if the brand tests on animals. Please advise!

    • Opal Joe says:

      they do. i don’t know how long, but all i know is that Clinique tests on animals. 🙁

      • Alexandra Basekic says:

        There are other hypoallergenic lines that are cruelty free. I really like Marcelle—they’re a Canadian company. For things like base products and eye makeup, they punch well above their weight. Prices are decent and you can order them online from the US and Europe. For what it’s worth, I used to be a Clinique fan, so I know of what I speak.

  • Jojo says:

    First, thank you for helping put information out there about doing the right thing. Something is bugging me here. Even if a product/company does not test on innocent animals, how can they claim cruelty-free status if they choose to produce in a country that mandates this terrible practice? Maybe their product isn’t tested but they are still contributing to that economy. Still seems wrong to me. Personally I’ve filtered my cosmetic products and as many everyday products as possible up to the parent companies. Now I’m starting to revisit which are produced in China. And some like to get tricky- Anastasia “Beverly Hills” is made in PRC.

  • Tanya says:

    Are miniso’s cosmetics and makeup products are cruelty free?

  • Kat says:

    I have some products that I’ve had for a while that are from Kmart Australia, and they are made in China. Haven’t used them much but I’m freaking out cause I don’t know if they are tested or not. The brands are Beauty Care Co. but it’s weird because all the products I have by them are either from Australia or China, brought to NZ. Help ?

  • tom says:

    To the Jacquie Tractenberg of Tractenberg co. Ex More magazine editor Abby Perlman recently got involved in dirty coraption business with crazy CBS anchor Otis Livingston to steal money from Tractenberg company employees bank accounts. Never trust Abby Perlman and Otis Livingston they are nothing but crooks and belong in prison!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Renata says:

    I am entering on this new beautiful world of cruelty-free but the bad thing is: I live in China. I will use Iherb to buy as much as possible the things I need, but I really wanna make a research about the chinese brands that are cruelty free.

  • Sara Whitaker says:

    Thank you for your post. It was so helpful.

  • Brianna says:

    this is just way too iffy for me! i’m sticking to products made in the usa as much as possible.

  • Isabel says:

    Maybe I’m bit off here, but could it not also be that the cosmetic cases/bottle is made in china and not the product itself? 😀 Either way it’s good to know 🙂

  • Okay, this is a relief, thanks!

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