China has Decided to Abandon Animal Testing for Foreign Cosmetics Brands

Since 2019, Chinese cosmetics were not tested on animals. This process was only applying to international brands exporting cosmetics to China. You noticed the issue, right? Even the European brands claiming they were cruelty-free… were not since they were available in China. The moment they wanted to sell in China, they had to test their products on animals. And applying lipstick on a rabbit… is not very glamour for a beauty brand!

After several months of negotiations, the Chinese authorities officially announced in January 2021 that imported ordinary cosmetics will be cruelty-free. Animal testing will not be a necessary condition to commercialize your beauty products in China. A great step forward. Especially when you know that more than 200 alternative testing methods are available.

Today, we will help you to better understand the Chinese cosmetics market. Why did this cruelty-free decision take that much time? What is going to change for your business in China?

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Cosmetics Animal Testing in China

When you read articles about cosmetics in China, it is always the same story: “Nothing will ever change in China” or “China is lagging behind”. Well, everything has changed! With this strong decision, China reaffirmed its economic leader position.

Why Did Cruelty-Free Measures Take that Much Time in China?

In China, the notion of security is very important. Chinese people value products that have a positive impact on their health. This is the reason why they used to test beauty products on animals for health and toxicity issues. 

The Chinese authorities always introduced a lot of control on cosmetics products. Why? Because the country is very cautious about imported products. In a word, China is a protective land that wants to protect its culture and its people from the outside. So, when they let a product enter China, they want to be sure that there is no threat for the Chinese people.

In the meantime, nobody used to talk about sustainability and animal protection in China. Not a lot of people were concerned about these issues. It was not a priority. Today, clean beauty and cruelty-free cosmetics are encouraged by Millennials and Generation Z. These young consumers are more connected, open-minded, and concerned by international issues. They ask for more transparency and better sustainable consumption, starting with cosmetics.

Brands Commitment: The Success of Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

Nowadays, thanks to the young customers, things are evolving in China. Local consumers are more aware of animal testing issues. Indeed, the intense use of social media increased the visibility of ecofriendly issues among the Chinese.

On Little Red Book, the UGC (User Generated Content) about clean beauty is on the rise. Even the Peta hashtag #weareallanimals is shared on LRB (the Chinese Instagram) to encourage animal protection. Chinese netizens criticized premium brands like Dior, La Mer, MAC, and Benefit because they allow third parties testing on animals.

In Shanghai, the premium cosmetics flagship Harmay opened a store with a powerful engagement. On the first floor, Chinese consumers can enter a cage to discover cruelty-free cosmetics products. The main objective of the retailer is to play with the client experience. In the cages, clients may experience the lack of liberty animals are feeling in laboratories. Presently, this is an opportunity to understand how much purchasing clean beauty products is important.

Understand China’s Decision Impact on Your Beauty Brand

Animal Testing: What is the New Chinese Policy?

From now on, imported cosmetics do not need to be tested on animals. This decision concerns the “ordinary cosmetics” only: makeup, fragrance, shampoo, etc.

What do you need to provide to sell your cosmetics in China?

  • A BPF Certificate: Standing for the « Bonnes Pratiques de Fabrication », this European certificate aims at proving the respect of quality standards ISO 22716 associated with the production, control, stocking, and expedition
  • A Security Evaluation: An official document stating that the beauty product is not involved in toxic consequences, harmful reactions, and health issues

Today, France is the first European country to be able to deliver this certificate. In other words, French ordinary cosmetics products are authorized to be commercialized without third-party animal testing. Patrick O’Quin from the Febea, the Beauty Companies Federation, expressed his joy. He stated: “We are pleased about this progress, which is rewarding several years of complex negotiations with Chinese authorities”.

Non-Ordinary Products Specificities

Now, you can have another question: what are the non-ordinary products? To clarify, these are beauty products with a specific health allegation. It could be a UV preventing face cream as the composition is preventing from UV sun rays. Or it could be a brightening skincare range, as there are mentions about their whitening properties. To be clear, if you have a brightening skincare range, you will still have to test them on animals. 

What are the New Opportunities in China?

China is the second biggest cosmetics market in the world. The total sales of the beauty market reach 25 billion euros per year. Since the Covid-19 crisis, the majority of luxury cosmetics sales are made in China. Animal testing abandonment is a powerful symbol of world opening.

Harmay Flagship Store, Shanghai

Then, what could have been the motivations for China to change its policy?

  • Diversification: Offering a multiple beauty offer to consumers
  • Image: Appeasing animal lovers and younger Chinese generations
  • Geopolitics: Improving its international image on worldwide ethics issues
  • Legal control: Countering daigou who used to illegally import cosmetics products

This new decision is profitable for any cosmetics brand. Some brands always wanted to stay away from China because they were fighting against animal testing for instance. Now, you have the opportunity to export quicker and easier to China. But you will face a new challenge: competition has never been that fierce!

We can help you differentiate your brand from the competition

How to Enter the Chinese Beauty Market?

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