China No Longer Requires Animal Testing on Most Imported Cosmetics
As of May 1, China will no longer require animal testing on most imported cosmetics. | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

China No Longer Requires Animal Testing on Most Imported Cosmetics

China's animal testing policy on most imported cosmetics is ending, allowing for cruelty-free brands to sell their products in the nation.

China will no longer require animal testing on imported cosmetics.

The National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), which regulates the region’s drugs and medical devices, made the announcement on its website. In a notice, it stated that imported ordinary cosmetics would no longer be tested on animals as of May 1.

International companies will be exempt from China’s mandatory animal testing if they adhere to certain qualifications. According to Business of Fashion, brands must provide quality certifications from their country-of-origin. Their products must not target children or infants. Products must also not contain any raw materials that aren’t featured on the country’s approved raw materials list. 

The move will allow a number of cruelty-free cosmetics brands like Fenty Beauty to sell their products in China.

Animal-Tested Cosmetics in China

Up until now, cosmetics animal testing has been mandatory in China.

But the growing consumer awareness about the cruelties animals face during testing, as well as advancements in technology, have allowed the region to embrace more cruelty-free alternatives.

In 2017, China’s Food and Drug Administration and the Institute for In Virto Sciences (IIVS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to make animal testing for cosmetics obsolete. IIVS is a nonprofit research and testing lab that works to develop animal-free testing methods.

In October 2018, the National Institute for Food and Drug Control revealed it was seeking “viable alternatives” to cosmetic animal testing. The organization said that development and research into cruelty-free cosmetics testing, noting it was a top priority.

In 2019, China began making strides to shift away from animal-tested cosmetics. In March, the country ended animal testing requirements on post-market cosmetics. The Gansu Province National Medical Products Association made the announcement. It effectively ended the requirement for cosmetic animal testing for all finished imported and domestically-produced products.

“This assurance by the Chinese authorities that post-market animal testing is now not normal practice is an enormous step in the right direction and most welcome,” Michelle Thew said in a statement. Thew is the chief executive of the international animal welfare organization Cruelty Free International.

The country also approved two new non-animal methods: a direct peptide reaction assay for skin sensitization and a short time exposure assay for eye irritation. The new animal-free testing methods were born out of the collaboration between China’s FDA and the IIVS.