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Understanding China’s Animal Testing Laws

This post may contain affiliate links.

Cosmetics sold or made in China have been under scrutiny by shoppers worldwide as China remains to be one of the lastΒ country to require cosmetics to be tested on animals by law. On 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 companiesΒ making or selling their products in China should be considered cruelty-free.

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

China's Animal Testing Laws

*INFOGRAPHIC UPDATED: APRIL 8, 2018. You’re welcome to share the infographic but please do not edit, crop, translate, or modify the original image in any form.

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 FreeΒ 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!

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44 Comments
  • Alyluvu (alyssa)
    November 30, 2017

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m writing a persuasive essay for the end of animal testing, this really helped me make a real world connection of how and where it’s still used. I love Ethical Elephant a lot, thanks lots for your contribution to a kinder world, definitely inspires me. (though hope something would help my terrible spelling some day cx)

  • Elaine
    November 15, 2017

    Hi Vicky,
    I’m a student and I’m currently working on a school project about animal testing. I’d really like to use your infographic because a) I tried to make my own, it completely failed and b) it explains China’s animal testing laws really well. However, since its from 2016 and, according to other sites, the laws have changed since then, I was wondering if I could please edit it to match today’s laws? Thanks so much!

  • Khalida
    August 10, 2017

    Dear Vicky, thank you for the article. I saw someone asking the question “Why it is mandated in China to test on animals?” Would you please share your view?

  • Niviya Vas
    July 12, 2017

    Hi Vicky,

    This is such a great blog, and the infographic makes it so simple to understand the Chinese laws on animal testing.
    Would you be okay with my sharing the infographic with a link to this page on my blog? I have co-started a cruelty-free blog for brands available in India, and would love to be able to educate readers with this piece.

    • Vicky Ly
      July 12, 2017

      Hey Niviya,
      Glad to hear you found the infographic helpful! Yes, you can totally share it with your readers. All I ask is to please don’t make any adjustments, modify, or crop the image and credit this page with a link =)

      • Niviya Vas
        November 1, 2017

        Thank you so much, Vicky! I definitely will not alter the image in any manner, and will give appropriate credit to this page. πŸ™‚
        (Sorry it took so long to respond!)

  • Milena Krecisz
    June 6, 2017

    Hi Vicky,
    Thank you so much for this post! I have come across it when creating my own post about animal testing in china. I have borrowed your amazing info graphic to add to my post as it makes the understanding so much easier. I”ll link to your website but please do let me know if don’t wish me to copy it.

    Thanks for helping animals πŸ™‚
    Milena
    http;//milenakrecisz.com

    • Vicky Ly
      June 7, 2017

      Hi Milena!
      Thank you so much for asking!! Yes! You can definitely share the infographic image to your readers =) just as long as you please link it back to this post! Thank YOU for being a voice for the voiceless <3

  • Marie McGurk
    June 4, 2017

    Hi Vicky

    I’m still a little confused?
    so if i buy a cruelty free brand in England and the label states made or produced in China
    is it still cruelty free?

    • Milena Krecisz
      June 6, 2017

      Hey! As long as this product is not sold in China then animal testing shouldn’t be required

    • Vicky Ly
      June 7, 2017

      Yes, exactly what Milena said is true. It’s only an issue if the products are SOLD in China. If you’re buying a cruelty-free brand in England but they say that they make or produce their products overseas in China, BUT they don’t distribute or sell in China… then they’re still cruelty-free.

  • 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 πŸ™‚ 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!
    Ana

    • Penny Alford
      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.

    • Vicky Ly
      July 5, 2016

      Hey Kira!
      Glad to hear that you’re switching over to cruelty-free products! =) I know, it’s 2016 and some companies are still testing on animals! Such a shame.

      I’m happy to hear you’re asking all the right questions too! I haven’t done much research on Moroccan Oil yet but there have been rumors circulating online that they are indeed selling their products in mainland China.

      The best way to get a solid answer is to email them and ask if any of their products are sold in mainland China. I have a feeling that those 10 hairdressers and spas you mentioned ARE selling Moroccan Oil products and not just online but I don’t know for certain unless they admit it.

      I’ll send them an email right now and see what they’ll say! I’ll follow up with you once I hear back! =)

    • Vicky Ly
      July 5, 2016

      Hi again Kira, they surprisingly got back to me quickly.

      This is what they said after I asked whether if Moroccan Oil products are sold in mainland China where animal testing is required:

      “As we are just beginning to enter the international market, we currently do not have distribution in China at this time; therefore you will not be able to purchase our products.”

      It sounds like they’re gearing up to sell their products in China. It’s not clear whether or not they’ll be exclusively selling via online retailers. They also didn’t address the issues of China’s animal testing requirements. To me, it doesn’t sound like they care about the issues of testing their products on animals in order to sell in China so sadly, I wouldn’t consider Moroccan Oil to be a cruelty-free brand.

      I would recommend trying cruelty-free haircare brands like John Masters Organic, Giovanni, Paul Mitchell, Yarok instead =)

      • 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!

        • Vicky Ly
          July 7, 2016

          I was also disappointed to hear that response from Moroccan Oil too! I really do hope they step it up and if they enter the Chinese market, that they’ll address the issues of animal testing sooner rather than later!

          Yes, on ethical elephant.. when I mention something is vegan, I mean that it’s also cruelty-free =) BUT I can’t say the same about other websites or even companies when they use the term “vegan” to describe their products.

          Sometimes vegan doesn’t automatically mean it’s cruelty-free. (I know, seems a little strange!) but I go into that a little more in this post here: https://ethicalelephant.com/crueltyfree-vs-vegan/

          Hope that helps ya out, Kira! =)

  • David Airey
    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.

    • Vicky Ly
      June 22, 2016

      Arghs, I know! It drives me crazy, been trying to find a way to prevent them from showing up on my blog! =( Thanks for the heads up, David!

β€œMake ethical choices in what we buy, do, and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.”― Marc Bekoff

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