May 1, 2021 China To Change Cosmetics Cruelty-Free Status?

China is removing the mandatory animal testing requirements for imported ‘general’ cosmetics, a huge step forward for cruelty-free beauty.

At present, while animal testing for cosmetics is banned in Europe, if a brand is sold in China this means it is not cruelty-free, because China requires animal testing by law.

However, from 1st May 2021, China will remove the mandatory animal testing requirements for imported ‘general’ cosmetics.

This means that products that do not have claims such as ‘anti-ageing, skin whitening or anti-acne’ will not need to go through animal testing when imported into the country.

‘General’ cosmetics such as shampoo, body wash, lotions and make-up comprise the bulk of the market, so this is a huge step forward for cruelty-free beauty. The new regulations will only apply to general use cosmetics and do not include hair dyes, hair-perming products, freckle-removing and whitening products, and sunscreens.

Moreover, China has also approved two new non-animal methods of cosmetic testing, indicating an animal-free future in the next few years.

Companies wishing to register will need to provide a Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practices in place of toxicology tests, but it is not yet determined who will issue a GMP certificate in the U.S. and Canada.

The bottom line: The announcement is good news, but there will still be many hurdles and costs for companies wishing to register to sell in China. Change will not happen overnight, but certainly things are moving in the right direction for the animals. At this time, the Leaping Bunny Program in the U.S. and Canada still only allows for the sale of products into China through Cross Border E-Commerce (which does not require registration with the NMPA). They are in direct communication with their partners in China who are working diligently on obtaining updates on new information.

A lot more in-depth information can be found -> ETHICALELEPHANT article
And -> LEAPINGBUNNY article

France Becomes The First EU Country To Bypass China’s Animal Testing

Cruelty-free brands are having a moment. New exemptions outlined in China’s latest Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation update mean that certain products can now enter the country without undergoing animal testing on arrival. These “ordinary” or “general use” cosmetics include mascara, shampoo, and fragrances. 

France has become the first European country to qualify for these exonerations. The National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) has developed a dedicated platform in France to enable its manufacturers to obtain the necessary certificates and approvals for easier access to the mainland. Other EU countries are now racing to devise their own frameworks to meet the update and see their brands follow suit with easier access to China. 

China has agreed to drop its animal testing requirement for imported cosmetics as long as manufacturers can provide a certificate of conformity confirming that the product complies with various manufacturing and product safety standards.

The French health authorities have risen to the challenge and are now in a position to issue this document, ahead of their European equivalents.  

Animal testing is a contentious practice and has long proven a barrier to selling in China for EU companies. As Patrick O’Quin, FEBEA President explains,

“We are delighted with this progress, which rewards several years of efforts made with the Chinese authorities. The cosmetics sector is the only one to have completely banned animal testing in Europe, and we are happy to continue to develop regulations in other parts of the world. This agreement will also allow French cosmetic companies to export under new conditions to China. This country is today our second trading partner.”


Common Cruelty-Free Beauty Brands

It is understandable why being a cruelty-free beauty brand pays off for both the brand and the consumer. The evolving awareness of animal cruelty is making the consumer navigate more towards cruelty-free brands that:

  1. Do not test on animals;
  2. Do not include Carmine (crushed bugs) as an ingridient for red pigments;
  3. Do not use mink (and other) furs in false eyelashes;
  4. Do not sell in China, where animal testing is mandatory to sell to Chinese consumers.

… and more.

According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), as of December 11, 2019, cruelty-free beauty brands include:

Watch Out! There have been three changes made in the industry since then:

  1. Kat Von D Beauty underwent a rebrand and is now called KVD Vegan Beauty, however, they do still maintain a cruelty-free status;
  2. Wet n Wild brand has found themselves in a huge scandal regarding their cruelty-free status, as they were spotted in China (a country that requires mandatory animal testing), which sent many beauty lovers into a frenzy and made them stop purchasing from the brand.
  3. Physician’s Formula was found selling in China, secretly. Therefore, they have lost their cruelty-free status.

If animal testing and a cruelty-free status is something that is important to you – please do your research and find the most recent and credible information (some brands can be deceptive and advertise as something they are not).

Here are the three best resources for information about cruelty-free status for many brands:

  1. PETA
  2. Cruelty Free Kitty
  3. Leaping Bunny

Last bit to remember to easily identify if a product is cruelty-free or not – check out the sides of the packaging for a symbol of a bunny that looks like one of these: