Understanding China’s Animal Testing Laws


Cosmetics sold or made in China have been under scrutiny by shoppers worldwide as China remains to be one of the last country that requires cosmetics to be tested on animals. In June 2014, compassionate consumers were thrilled to hear that China finally made some changes to their animal testing requirements.

With these changes, 10,000 animals a year will be saved from being tested on! (Horray!) However the changes also created a lot of confusion about whether companies making or selling their products in China should be considered cruelty-free.

To help you better understand China’s current animal testing laws, I’ve created this infographic to clarify if a product needs to be tested on animals as required by China’s laws or not.

Guide to Understanding China's Animal Testing Laws 2016

*INFOGRAPHIC UPDATED: JAN 17, 2016. You’re welcome to share the infographic but please do not edit, crop, or change original image.

As noted on Humane Society’s website, here is a short version of the state of cosmetic animal testing laws in China today:

1. Foreign imported ordinary cosmetics – still require animal testing
2. Domestically produced ordinary* cosmetics – animal testing no longer an absolute requirement
3. Both foreign imported and domestically produced ‘special use’** cosmetics – still require animal testing
4. Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics for foreign export only – have never required animal testing
5. Any cosmetic bought in China via a foreign e-commerce website – has never required animal testing.

*Ordinary cosmetics include make up, fragrances, skin, hair and nail care products.

**Special use cosmetics include hair dyes, perms and hair growth products, deodorants, sunscreens, skin-whitening creams, and other products that make a functional claim on the label.

If you want more information, check out HSI’s website and FAQ.

Thank you Humane Society’s Be Cruelty Free campaign and for all of the hard work they’ve done to help animals in need! Be sure to sign the global pledge and #BeCrueltyFree!

Vicky Ly

I'm Vicky! I've been a vegan for 4 years and want to do my small part in making the world a kinder place. When I'm not on my laptop creating or designing, I enjoy running, vegan chocolate chip cookies + ice cream, and the occasional Simpsons marathon.

  • Amanda Tan
    September 6, 2016

    Hi VIcky

    We now know that China law require animal testing in order to sell but WHY?

  • Ana Almeida
    August 29, 2016

    Hey Vicky!

    Thanks a lot for posting such clear piece of information 🙂 Is this the current status, as of today’s date: 29th August, 2016?
    I’ve been asking some of my favourite brands this question, and sadly, no good responses came out :(, except maybe for Uriage: they already emailed me 3 times telling me they don’t test on animals, but I keep insisting on the Chinese laws. I’m now waiting for their response on whether they just sell online in China or if they sell there physically. Fingers crossed!
    Since I’m on the subject, do you know the status of that company?

    Also, can you please tell me a few good, known brands that are cruelty-free and that you know of?

    Thank you very much!

    • September 16, 2016

      Hi Ana,
      A good way to find Cruelty free brands is on the Choose Cruelty free website. http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/cruelty-free-list/
      I manufacture vegan, Certified cruelty free skincare products and only sell in Australia. I’ve been creating since 1989 and am passionate about ensuring every ingredient is cruelty free including absolutely palm oil free products.
      We are passionate manufacturers and we are out there! <3

  • Kira
    July 5, 2016

    Hello Vicky, i hope you are reading this.
    I am kind of new to this whole thinking of cruelty-free (since i always kind of thought.. such a thing like testing on animals wouldnt be on this world anymore.. but yeah, i was naive) however.. i really have a question to you. and hope you might can answer it.
    It is about moroccanoil.com
    They sell to china now. they sell to ten hairdressers and spas. -> http://www.moroccanoil.com/ca_en/salon-spa-locator
    what does that mean for that? are they cruelty-free?
    since i believe these stores have their products via online-stores? and as i read.. they dont test then?
    or am i wrong?
    how can i find out?
    I nearly searched everything. and i dont believe im getting a really satisfying answer either from their website.
    still. i am super in love with their products but want to make it sure.. before i am using them again.

    sorry btw for my bad english. i am from germany.

      • Kira
        July 7, 2016

        Oh wow, thank you so so much for your fast answer! <3
        Sadly i wasnt on the internet yesterday.
        I am so thankful that you already contacted them and asked for that. But somehow sad that they gave this answer… however. thank you so so much for your help!
        I really hope they change their mind some day. But till now i will definally try some of the brands you mentioned!
        (My hair is really sensitive. So i hope the best :D)

        Also i am trying to look around your blog now to change my products time by time (when theyre empty) to get the right things and finally be able to support cruelty-free.
        This might be a dumb question too… but everything which is a vegan product should be cruelty-free, right?
        Would be a little weird if its not..

        Also again.. cant say it enough, thank you!

  • June 22, 2016

    Thanks for the post, Vicky. You’re probably unaware, but the Google ad in your sidebar is showing an Estee Lauder product, and according to PETA that company currently tests on animals.

  • meme
    April 23, 2016

    does anyone know where benefit cosmetics lies on this? Their animal testing policy is extremely confusing!

    • Tamsin
      May 3, 2016

      They don’t test on animals. I think the reason they don’t get the bunny logo is because they sell in china, where their products are tested on animals (not by them) :s

    • Renee
      May 19, 2016

      They test on animals. Their products are available in stores in mainland China.

  • Jemma
    April 18, 2016

    Can I ask if “China” pertains to a certain area, or is it anywhere in China?

      • Ash C
        April 10, 2017

        Thank you for the information! The infographic is great and very helpful. I wanted to make a note that it might be worthwhile to note that Hong Kong is not part of China (it’s a sovereign state, which is why the China law does not apply). While it’s valuable to include the info, because many people are unaware of the separation, it seems like it implies they’re not autonomous. Just a thought, I think its a great infographic and like the site!

  • Sarah
    April 15, 2016

    It’s great to see the updated infographic. I have another suggestion. The line on the left dealing with special use cosmetics made and sold in china should link to the post-market testing box. These products are also subject to post-market testing.

  • Tracy
    April 13, 2016

    This chart above, is it still current, as of today April 13, 2016?
    If it is made in china it requires animal testing? Your chart makes it very clear, but i have a company telling me that this is not the case…
    Thank you for your help…

    • Susan Hughes
      March 29, 2016

      I urge you to change the laws in China. In today’s world it’s not needed. We should use common sense. If it burns your eyes we know not to stick it in our eyes. To use our beautiful gifts from God to abuse that are helpless. I pray for all the suffering. God will have his justice in the end.

  • October 6, 2015

    SO happy that I just stumbled upon this site. AMAZING references. <3

  • Sarah
    September 19, 2015

    Thank you so much for making this! Makes it so easy to understand

  • September 16, 2015

    This is an INCREDIBLE infographic! Thank you so much for all the information!

  • Skeptical
    September 11, 2015

    But what about ‘ethical’ companies knowingly bulk mail ordering through websites to Chinese distributors who then sell in Mainland China stores?

  • September 11, 2015

    This is so useful Vicky! It makes the topic so easy to understand at a glance, particular;ly for understanding the info in a visual way 🙂

  • September 9, 2015

    Thank you for this post! I’ve heard many different views on animal testing in China – thank you for clearing it up!

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