HUGE News! PETA US Campaign May Lead to More Cruelty-Free Cosmetics in China

Posted by on September 10, 2020 | Permalink

Update: 9 March 2021

The Chinese government just announced that it has created a new pathway for cruelty-free cosmetics to be sold in China. Specifically, as of 1 May 2021, it will allow companies to market most imported “general cosmetics” (formerly classified as “non–special use cosmetics”) – like shampoo, body wash, lotion, and make-up – without the usually required animal testing.

This is great progress, but it doesn’t mean the end of all tests on animals yet. Companies must take a number of steps and apply for the exemption to the animal testing requirements for imported general cosmetics. Companies that don’t take these steps or don’t qualify for the exemption will still be required to pay for tests on animals for their products. Additionally, companies manufacturing “special cosmetics” (formerly called “special use cosmetics”) are still required to pay for tests on animals. Special cosmetics are those making functional claims, such as “hair dyes, hair perming products, freckle-removing and whitening products, sunscreens, anti-hair loss products and cosmetics claiming new efficacy”. So while the finalisation of the animal testing provisions under the Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation is an exciting milestone, animals used in experiments still need our help.

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In 2012, PETA and our international affiliates revealed that some formerly cruelty-free companies had covertly started paying the Chinese government to test their products on animals in order to sell them in China. Every year, experimenters subject hundreds of thousands of animals to cruel and deadly poisoning tests in which they’re force-fed products, chemicals are smeared onto their skin, or substances are dripped into their eyes.

Now, the Chinese government is taking new steps to loosen its requirements for cosmetics tests on animals. Specifically, it’s predicted that it will no longer require that imported non–special use cosmetics (like shampoo, body wash, lotion, and make-up) be tested on animals in order to be marketed in China.

China had already removed the animal testing requirement for many products manufactured there, enabling PETA US to list brands like Dove and Herbal Essences as animal test–free. Now, China has proposed another huge step forward in cruelty-free cosmetics.

Here’s the Latest on China’s Potential Cosmetics Regulations

In January, China’s State Council passed a long-awaited final draft of the Cosmetics Supervision and Administration Regulation (CSAR), which replaces outdated cosmetics regulations. The final publication of the law was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but on 29 June, the State Council released the final version of the CSAR.

However, the law didn’t call for a ban on animal tests – instead, it instructed another government agency, China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), to formulate specific details for cosmetics testing requirements. On 28 July, the NMPA released the draft of those detailed sub-regulations, and they’re currently up for analysis and public comment.

It’s expected that, if passed, the forthcoming rules will allow the sale of many imported cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals. If this is the case, we’ll celebrate this progress, as we have every new measure that has spared animals poisoning in tests in Chinese laboratories.

After PETA US learned eight years ago that companies like Estée Lauder and Mary Kay paid for deadly poisoning tests on animals in China, it took action. Realising that Chinese scientists were unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the many non-animal testing methods available, the group awarded two grants to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) so that its expert scientists could travel to China to offer their expertise and guidance in replacing cruel, unreliable animal tests with non-animal methods. These grants also allowed IIVS to create a coalition of cosmetics companies to support its efforts. Since then, IIVS and its coalition have made great progress.

Does This Mean China Will Be Entirely Animal Test–Free?

While this could mean exciting progress, it doesn’t mean an end to all tests on animals in China yet. Companies manufacturing “special use products” will still be required to pay for such tests. Special use cosmetics are those with functional claims, including but not limited to hair dyes, hair-perming products, whitening products, sunscreen, and anti–hair loss products. So while the passing of the CSAR would be an exciting milestone, animals used in experiments still need our help.

What Does China’s New Testing Regulation Mean for You?

We know it can be tricky to figure out which products are manufactured by companies that don’t test on animals, but you can rely on the PETA US global “Beauty Without Bunnies” list. This online, searchable database includes more than 4,800 compassionate companies and brands that don’t test on animals anywhere in the world.

Do More to Help Animals Used in Experiments

Animals are still used in experiments closer to home, too. In 2019 alone, 3.4 million procedures were conducted on animals in Great Britain. Whether in China, the UK, or elsewhere, animals don’t belong in laboratories. Use your voice to encourage the government to create a clear strategy for replacing animals in experiments.

Sign our petition to support PETA’s Research Modernisation Deal: