The norm in China has been a requirement that all companies supply a sample of any new product proposed for sale in the country to a government-approved laboratory, which then performs skin and eye irritation tests in rabbits, and possibly other animal tests, to assess the product’s safety. Photo by NiDerLander/iStockphoto

China has, for a long time, been on the sidelines of the global campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics. Animal tests have, in fact, been a legal requirement for many types of cosmetics made and imported into China, and authorities have traditionally required pre-market animal testing before approving any new cosmetic for sale.

But there are now signs that this is beginning to change, and that China has taken decisive steps toward eliminating these archaic requirements.

The norm in China has been a requirement that all companies supply a sample of any new product proposed for sale in the country to a government-approved laboratory, which then performs skin and eye irritation tests in rabbits, and possibly other animal tests, to assess the product’s safety. In 2014, this blanket requirement was lifted for “non-special-use” cosmetics (e.g. lipsticks and skin and hair care products that don’t make a functional claim, such as anti-perspirants, hair-removal products or sunscreens), provided that they were manufactured in mainland China, and that the company could confirm the safety of the product without additional testing.

Last week China’s National Medical Products Association released a first draft of a regulation that would extend this waiver policy to imported non-special-use cosmetics—a move that Humane Society International and the global cosmetics industry have been working to support for years.

Although there are certain specified exceptions, like products designated for infants and children, or those marketed by companies that have recently been penalized for product safety issues, it is a welcome step.

HSI and our network of country offices and regulatory science experts have been at the forefront of the campaign to give the global beauty industry a cruelty-free makeover. We helped establish the European Union as the world’s largest cruelty-free beauty market and we have since championed its spread through HSI affiliates in India, South Kore …

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