Although China is the world’s second biggest cosmetics market, many cruelty-free companies have resisted exporting their products to the country.

Why? The Chinese Government has, until now, required cosmetics sold in physical stores to undergo ‘pre-market’ and random ‘post-market’ animal testing. Finally, after many years of hard work by anti-animal cruelty campaigners, corporations and foreign governments, the regulations have now changed: starting from the 1st of May 2021, imported ordinary cosmetics will no longer forcibly undergo any animal testing if they have gained the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certification.

This is a big step forward since animal testing regulations were removed from ordinary cosmetics made in China in 2014.

It is wonderful news for beauty and personal care companies across the world! Until recently, determined cruelty-free companies resorted either to manufacturing their products in China or to selling by e-commerce in order to reach Chinese customers without compromising their ethics. Many companies, however, do not have the means to take such measures; now, thankfully, all will be able to take advantage of the large Chinese beauty market.

China has also approved of two new non-animal cosmetic testing methods, creating hope for an animal-free future. 

Caroline Ruane, the CEO of the animal welfare charity Naturewatch Foundation, has commented: “After many years of campaigning, Naturewatch Foundation is delighted that the Chinese Government has reviewed the use of animals in testing cosmetics. As of 1 May 2021, if a brand being exported to China has Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certification and meets our existing cruelty-free criteria, we welcome their application for inclusion in the Compassionate Shopping Guide!”

As stated, when companies have applied and met Naturewatch Foundation’s strict endorsement policy, they will be included in their Compassionate Shopping Guide, which introduces cruelty-free brands. 

Although this certainly is wonderful news, the battle for cruelty-free cosmetics is still not over: ‘special use’ products like sunscreen, deodorants, whitening products and hair dye are still subject to animal testing in China. Even in Europe, chemical regulations still sometimes controversially override the EU animal testing ban. We must, therefore, continue to fight for animal rights across the world!

Even though there is still progress to be made, Cruelty-Free International Chief Executive Michelle Thaw cheerfully states, ‘through co-operation and partnership our aim to end cosmetics animal testing everywhere and forever is coming closer.’

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Crystel is currently a first year English student at University College London. She hopes to one day pursue journalism further.

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