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The Truth About China Ending Mandatory Animal Testing This May

by Suzana Rose

Mar 29, 2021

A big change is coming to China's animal testing laws. Starting May 1st, brands will be able to sell imported non-special use cosmetics in mainland China without paying for cruel animal tests. While this doesn't mean that all beauty brands will be able to sell in China while maintaining their cruelty-free status, it's a huge step in the right direction. All common questions regarding China's latest update will be addressed here.

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What will change on May 1st?

Until now, only companies that manufacture locally in mainland China were able to bypass mandatory animal testing. Starting May 1st, companies that manufacture outside of China will be able to bypass pre-market animal testing. This means they will be able to sell in stores in China without their products being tested on animals beforehand.

This does not however apply to all beauty products. Only "general" cosmetics will have the option to bypass animal testing. "Special use" cosmetics on the other hand will still require animal testing in order to be sold in China.

What's the difference between general cosmetics and special use cosmetics?

Cosmetics in China can fall under 2 categories: general and special use cosmetics.

General cosmetics, which will no longer be subjected to mandatory animal testing, include:

  • Skincare products
  • Hair care products
  • Nail care products
  • Makeup
  • Fragrance

Special use cosmetics, which still require pre-market animal testing, include:

  • Hair growth products
  • Hair dyes
  • Hair perming products
  • Hair removal products
  • Breast beauty products
  • Body fitness products
  • Deodorants
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-freckle products
  • Whitening products

Will all beauty brands be able to sell in China and be cruelty-free?

Unfortunately, no. Leaping Bunny reports that "there will still be lots (and lots) of steps to take for companies wishing to register and sell in China". China removed the requirement of pre-market animal testing. They have not removed pre-market animal testing itself. So while companies have the option to bypass animal testing, it doesn't mean all of them will. If brands are unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps, they will have to pay for animal testing.

Will all beauty brands currently sold in China be cruelty-free after May 1st?

No. Brands that have already paid for animal testing in China as part of the old requirement for pre-market animal testing will not be considered cruelty-free.

Has China banned animal testing?

No, animal testing is not banned in China. They have removed the requirement of pre-market animal testing for general cosmetics, however animal testing in China still exists.

What about post-market animal testing?

Post-market in China hasn't been normal practice for a couple of years, according to the latest report I have seen. This is promising. If we can have confirmation that post-market animal testing for cosmetics has stopped, it means that brands will soon be able to sell in China while being fully cruelty-free. As you may know, many brands are not considered to be cruelty-free according to our standard because of the risk of post-market animal testing.


Starting May 1st 2021, some beauty brands will be able to enter the Chinese market without paying for pre-market animal testing. While this is a huge step in the right direction, brands that sell in China will not be considered cruelty-free. At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we will update our criteria on May 1st to consider this important update. Approved brands in our cruelty-free list will continue to truly be cruelty-free and they must fulfill our updated cruelty-free criteria.

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 (6) - Hide Comments (6)
  • MILDRED says:

    Thank you so much for this information and your research.

  • Thank you for caring for these peaceful beings.
    I always check the list of products so I know im not hurting an animal.

  • Julie Schuster says:

    Thank you So much for what you do. It gets confusing and I rely heavily on your information and trust you do your due diligence. In the world, with such an abundance of animal cruelty, I believe everyone who helps even the smallest critter is hero. Thank you!

    My deepest gratitude,

  • Paige says:

    I just don’t understand. Animals hair, skin is different than a humans. Where is the common sense in this!! Why test on animals. Companies should only be testing on humans.

  • Fei says:

    Thank you for sharing and updating.

  • Yasha Ali Bangash says:

    I’m vet thankful for this website! I didn’t even realized the amount of products are non cruelty free, even the common products that I was using since I was a kid like ponds, loreal etc. I’m happy that I get to learn more about this and live cruelty free. Also trying my best to get others to be cruelty free!

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