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 is a huge game changer for cruelty free beauty. China is one of the few countries in the world to require animal testing for beauty products, and now it will spare hundreds of thousands of animals which were previously harmed as part of cruel animal tests.

We are so thankful for China to be taking a more humane approach to safety testing. By removing mandatory pre-market animal testing for most products, the world is a step closer to going completely cruelty-free when it comes to cosmetics.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International, which leads the global #BeCrueltyFree campaign and has long supported training in non-animal test methods in China, said: “We are delighted that China has taken this important step toward cruelty-free cosmetics regulation. China remains one of the few countries in the world to require animal tests for beauty products, so removing this requirement for everyday cosmetics would be a game changer for cruelty-free beauty.

The era of cosmetic animal testing is nearly at an end, and through our global #BeCrueltyFree campaign we are passing laws in key cosmetic markets to ensure that no animal is ever again made to suffer in the name of beauty. We are also excited to be working with brand leaders and scientists in the beauty sector to build trust, acceptance and national capacity in animal-free approaches to cosmetic safety assessment.” – Kitty Block of HSI



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

What This Really Means

Animal testing in China is currently 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, tooth whitening agents or hair dye, 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?

Sadly not, because of the risk of post-market animal testing.


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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 is 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.

With all this being said, this regulation is still a huge step and very promising news that China will soon completely step away from animal testing as part of both pre-market and post-market animal testing.