China Updates Animal Testing Policy, Are They Cruelty Free Now?

Something that has been a buzz in the cruelty-free community within the last few days is the news that China has changed some laws regarding animal testing. Now the headlines are a bit deceptive as they make it sound like they are ending the laws that require animal testing on cosmetics. Which unfortunately is not true. They have however made some progress but it’s not to a level where if any brand that sells in China is now suddenly cruelty free. So, I thought since we’re all about cruelty-free cosmetics here on my blog I would go over what exact those changes are and what it all means.


China announced they will be reducing post-market animal testing of cosmetics. This does not mean they have banned animal testing as they have two stages: pre-market and post-market. As even though they are reducing post-market animal testing, they still require it by law on cosmetic products. What they did change is a plan to greatly reduce the post-market animal testing, but not eliminating it completely. And there is no plan currently that they have announced to eliminate pre-market animal testing. So, if any brands that sell in China are subject to both laws like MAC, L’Oreal, Benefit, NARS and many, many, many more.

For those that don’t know what post-market animal testing is, it’s for products already on store shelves and released to consumers. At any time, the government can pull the products from those shelves then test them on animals. Countries with these laws do not need permissions from brands to do this prior to them testing the product on animals. Therefore, any brand who sells in mainland China is not considered cruelty-free as they already know this is a possibility before entering the market. And there is not a way to avoid this, though there is a database that states if products were tested but it’s not updated right away. Regardless, any brand who is sold on shelves in mainland China is not cruelty free.

Many organizations have spoken on it, one of those being the Humane Society International who stated on Twitter (if you want more updates on animal testing around the globe Humane Society International has a page called Be Cruelty-Free campaign):

It’s encouraging but not yet a guarantee that no animal testing will ever again happen post-market, and pre-market animal testing for imported cosmetics remains as before. So what’s changed? China recently released for the first time its post-market testing plan, and it reveals that no animal tests are listed for routine post-market surveillance.

However, in the case of non-routine tests, eg: a consumer complaint about a product, unless/until authorities accept modern non-animal eye/skin irritation tests, and invest in local infrastructure to use such tests, animal testing could still be the default.

Pre-market cosmetic animal testing in China for foreign imports and special-use products, remains unchanged.

Humane Society International’s Twitter

So, while China is making progress to joining the rest of the world with new technology that doesn’t involve testing on animals. They are still a long way from being cruelty-free. But the fact that they are starting to investigate alternative methods to reduce post-mark animal testing is amazing! And that shouldn’t be ignored, so we’ll celebrate it, but still those brands are not showing up on my cruelty free guide any time soon. As they are still subjected to animal testing. If you ever see a headline about major changes and aren’t sure if it’s true, always check reputable organizations like Humane Society International and Cruelty-Free International. I will also try to share any information regarding changes here on the blog and keep my cruelty-free guide up to date as much as possible so I can get you guys the most accurate information.

Love ya,

Mae Polzine

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