China has often been the topic of ethical conversation as, despite a demand for cruelty-free cosmetics and many beauty brands rejecting animal testing in response, its animal test-based regulatory framework has created an increasing divide between the Chinese market and the growing number of countries choosing to outlaw cosmetics animal testing.
Some brands such as LUSH, Paul Mitchell Systems and Urban Decay have pledged not to sell in China until the animal test requirement is removed; and that may become a step closer to reality with the revision of the overall framework.
China’s 'Regulations concerning the Hygiene Supervision over cosmetics' has been in place unchanged since 1990 and requires that every new cosmetic product formulation intended for sale in China be animal tested in a government laboratory before being made available to consumers.
The government also carries out follow-up animal testing of cosmetic products after they've been put on sale.
Campaign for change
“The science of non-animal safety testing has come a long way in the 23 years since China’s regulation was enacted, inspiring a global shift away from cosmetics animal testing and towards sophisticated computer and human tissue techniques,” says Troy Seidle, director of research and toxicology at Humane Society International.
“We hope that China will align its cosmetics policy with Europe and other regions where cosmetics animal testing has already been abandoned, so that Chinese consumers can benefit from the cruelty-free cosmetics they clearly want and Chinese companies are free to sell their new cosmetics lines in the cruelty-free EU market.”
HSI launched its Be Cruelty-Free China campaign and partook in a series of high-level meetings with government officials in Beijing earlier this year, as it looked to modernize China’s regulatory framework for cosmetics.
HSI's toxicology experts have prepared a detailed submission for the China Food and Drug Administration, highlighting opportunities to reduce longstanding scientific and trade barriers.
These include accelerating China’s acceptance of internationally recognized non-animal methods for safety testing, and aligning China's animal testing policy with that of Europe, Israel and India, where such testing is banned for cosmetic products and ingredients.