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Breaking News: China Will End Mandatory Pre-Market Animal Testing In 2021

by Suzana Rose

Jul 7, 2020

Amazing news for the cruelty-free world! China will finally remove mandatory pre-market animal testing for foreign "ordinary" cosmetics. This is a huge step in the right direction.

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Today, Humane Society International stated:

“Effective Jan. 1, 2021, imported ordinary cosmetics such as shampoo, blusher, mascara and perfume will no longer have to be animal tested for eye and skin irritation in Chinese laboratories".

This means that China will spare hundreds of thousands of animals which were previously harmed as part of cruel animal tests. It's wonderful news for China to be taking a more humane approach to safety testing. By removing mandatory pre-market animal testing for most products, we're a step closer to China going completely cruelty-free when it comes to cosmetics.

It's important to note that animal testing could still occur under the new regulations, in one of two ways:

  1. For "special use" cosmetics (such as hair dye, sunscreen, or whitening products)
  2. As part of post-market product testing

What This Means

To explain this simply, let's look at the current situation.

Animal testing in China can be performed during two stages: pre-market (when products need to be tested on animals in order to be proven "safe" for consumers) and post-market (when products are pulled from store shelves to be tested on animals).

When it comes to pre-market animal testing, China currently requires it for all foreign cosmetics. For example, if an American skincare brand decides to sell its products in stores in China, they need to have their products tested on animals beforehand.

With the new regulations, which will take effect on January 1st 2021, brands will be able to start selling in China without the need for animal tests to prove safety -- as long as they sell "ordinary" cosmetics, which includes most skincare, personal care, and makeup products.

However, if this hypothetical American skincare brand were to sell "special use" cosmetics such as sunscreen, they would still need to pay for animal testing before they're able to sell these products in China.

Does this new regulation mean that all beauty brands who enter the Chinese market will be cruelty-free, as long as they stick to "ordinary" cosmetics? Unfortunately not, because of the risk of post-market animal testing.

Humane Society International stresses why:

"The regulation also provides for routine post-market sampling inspections by provincial authorities, including for cosmetics with reported safety problems. It is unclear whether such inspections and investigations could involve animal testing. This uncertainty has long been a barrier to cruelty-free beauty brands entering the Chinese market."

Post-market animal testing occurs when the Chinese authorities pull cosmetics from the shelves in order to test them on animals. This can happen if there's a safety concern about a product. Although there are non-animal methods for post-market product testing, animal methods were listed as a possibility in the last official document from China.

Post-market animal testing is something China needs to address, or brands who enter the Chinese market after January 1st 2021 still won't be recognized as being truly cruelty-free.

Nevertheless, I'm remaining hopeful that China will soon completely step away from animal testing as part of both pre-market and post-market animal testing. This new regulation is a giant step.

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+ Show Comments (7) - Hide Comments (7)
  • Emily says:

    So if brand X who is considered truly cruelty free in the US, sells to China in 2021, and then China decides to pull samples from brand X’s line from the shelves, wouldn’t that be funded by China and out of brand X’s hands? This does not make any animal testing excusable, but it seems like a gray area for those brands, especially if they aren’t the ones funding the testing. In which case, does a brand just have to completely avoid selling to China in order to be cruelty free until China fully bans pre and post market animal testing? Just want to make sure i understand, thanks for everything you do!

  • Sophi says:

    Thank you for share with us… is an important step, there are some products from China that are good but in my case I don’t buy it because there are tested on animals. I hope one day this method change.

  • J. Lankford says:

    Thank you for this important article and all you do to keep people informed.

  • Excellent news! Baby steps…little by little we’ll get ther.

  • AlisonB says:

    This is a really big deal, but the more I think about it, the less I want to buy from cruelty free brands which went into China knowing that their products would be tested on animals. Brands like Avon led the way decades ago by turning away from animal testing and yet years later, it decided the business bottom line was more important than the suffering of animals. Now it’s back applying for to cruelty free certification,, but I can’t forget the long period in between.

  • Patricia says:

    Thank you for keeping us updated! It’s great news! But I will believe when I see it.
    Take care!!

  • S. Kelly says:

    This is an important first step. I hope they follow through…

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