Is China going to end animal testing for cosmetics?
China remains one of the remaining countries in the world to require animal tests for beauty products, so removing a requirement for “everyday” cosmetics would be a game changer for cruelty-free beauty.
China claims track to ending animal testing for imported ‘ordinary’ cosmetics
China’s State Council has finalized regulations that significantly modernize cosmetic safety assessment and lay critical groundwork for removal of the longstanding requirement to animal test all imported ordinary cosmetics. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, imported ordinary cosmetics such as shampoo, blusher, mascara and perfume MAY no longer have to be animal tested for eye and skin irritation in Chinese laboratories. Ordinary cosmetics make up the majority of personal care products imported to China; so-called “special” cosmetics will still require animal testing.
Products still subject to animal testing requirements:
- Cosmetics used for hair and skin coloring, perming, sun protection, anti-hair loss, children’s products and cosmetics claiming new effects are termed ‘special’ cosmetics and are still subject to animal testing requirements. Cosmetics other than special cosmetics are ordinary cosmetics.
Seems like a long list of exceptions for animal testing still exists in China.
This move is a marked change in the direction of cruelty-free, if it goes ahead, does not prevent post-market testing and so will still fall short of the cruelty-free standard set by several groups.
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.
Some brands use the cross-border e-commerce to China allowing it to bypass animal testing.
Cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) allows international cosmetics brands to enter the Chinese market while still keeping current production arrangements in place (i.e. outside of China).
Cosmetics products shipped through CBEC are exempt from filing and registration requirement and thus no animal testing is required.
Beauty’s biggest conglomerates – Procter & Gamble, Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Unilever, Shiseido and Avon — all sell in China and continue to test on animals.
“There has been less awareness and there’s just a different culture between countries. In Europe, animal welfare ethics have driven the progress. In the U.S., the way you get government and industry interested is money. You explain the non-animal approach is more efficient. It saves time, money, you get better predictions.”
When it comes to China, Troy Seidle, vice president of research and toxicology for Humane Society International (HSI) advised, “Don’t talk to them about animal welfare.” Instead, he said “one of the significant drivers with the HSI cruelty-free campaign we’ve taken is trade pressure.”
Non-animal testing methods are already available
Validated and internationally recognized alternatives to animal testing are readily available to companies if they wish to avail themselves of it..
Recommended is combining different non-animal methods (such as computer simulation and human cell-based models) that can be used as an efficient way to evaluate a chemical’s overall biological activity relative to other chemicals and to give toxicologists a good idea of what kind of toxicity it might induce. Monitoring real-life, daily exposure of real people can help us understand what effects low level, long-term exposure has. These population-based studies have been shown to provide information on health risks that have not been revealed by animal testing.
Today Humane Society International is leading simultaneous legislative efforts in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Southeast Asia consists of two regions. Mainland Southeast Asia is historically known as an Indochina and consists of Laos, Vietnam, West Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Maritime Southeast Asia is historically referred to as the Malay archipelago and East Indies consist of Indonesia, East Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, East Timor, Christmas Island, Cocos Island, and in some instances Taiwan, with the goal of having robust bans introduced by the end of 2023.
Source: Humane Society International / Global
As you can see there is a lot to keep up with and a lot of work still to be done.
In the meantime, please do your part and vote with your dollar by buying only cruelty-free products for home and personal use.