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July 2, 2014

Violinist Vanessa-Mae & Be Cruelty-Free Celebrate as China Takes Crucial Step Toward Ending Cosmetics Animal Testing

Up to 10,000 animals a year could be saved from China tests

Humane Society International

  • Vanessa Mae Official

Testing cosmetics such as lipstick and shampoo on animal is legally required in China, but Vanessa-Mae says it’s unjust and needs to stop. Thanks in large part to the Be Cruelty-Free China campaign run by Humane Society International’s Beijing team and its Chinese animal group partners, from June 30 animal testing for ordinary cosmetics produced inside China will no longer be legally mandated.

In Dalian, China, Be Cruelty-Free campaigners also marked the occasion with an eye-catching street event featuring 100 life-size rabbit cut-outs and a huge banner. While in Beijing, a letter signed by HSI and more than 20 Chinese animal protection groups was sent to the China FDA to welcome the reduction in cosmetics animal test requirements as a pivotal moment in China’s journey towards ending all cosmetics cruelty.

Vanessa-Mae is a passionate animal advocate. She says: "I am proud of my Chinese heritage, but I also know that there is much work to be done to end animal suffering in China. This is a hugely important milestone and I hope the first step in China's journey towards ending all animal testing for cosmetics.

“Rabbits, guinea pigs and other creatures need us to be their voice. Their suffering for our lipsticks and shampoos is so unjust and I look forward to seeing the day when the whole world can be cruelty-free. I'm a huge animal lover and it's heart-breaking to think that in China and around the world hundreds of thousands of animals are suffering just to test our make-up. It has to stop. So thank you Be Cruelty-Free China, and now let's keep campaigning until we end all cosmetics cruelty."

It is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 rabbits, guinea-pigs, mice and other animals have to date been used to test cosmetics in China every year. If every eligible company took advantage of the policy change, we estimate up to 10,000 animals a year could be saved in China. During cosmetics testing, animals can have chemicals dripped in their eyes, spread on their skin or force-fed to them in massive, lethal doses. As well as causing animal suffering, many of these tests are notoriously unreliable in predicting real chemical reactions in people.

China cosmetics animal testing after 30 June:

  • Foreign imported ordinary* cosmetics – still require animal testing
  • Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics –animal testing no longer an absolute requirement
  • Both foreign imported and domestically produced ‘special use’** cosmetics – still require animal testing
  • Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics for foreign export only – have never required animal testing
  • 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.

The next phase in HSI’s campaign is to see the rule change applied to foreign imported cosmetics too, as well as to remove animal testing from post-market surveillance by the government, whereby cosmetics already on sale are chosen at random for extra testing. 

Troy Seidle, HSI’s director of research & toxicology, said: “We are thrilled that our Be Cruelty-Free campaign has helped achieve the phase-out of China’s mandatory cosmetics animal test requirements. However, ending all cosmetics animal testing in China is going to be incremental rather than sweeping change, so it’s important to recognise this as the first step in what we hope will be China’s journey towards ending all cosmetics cruelty.

“Cruelty-free companies beware, however. It’s not yet possible to sell cosmetics in China and avoid all animal testing. Post-market animal testing is unaffected by this rule change, and in fact, Chinese authorities have confirmed to us that post-market animal testing will probably increase. Now that Be Cruelty-Free has this milestone under its belt, we’re confident we will eventually end all China’s cosmetics animal testing. But we’re not there yet, and companies should remain vigilant if they want to guarantee their ethical policy for customers.”

HSI will continue to work with Chinese regulators to increase access to and acceptance of superior non-animal test methods. In May, an $80,000 grant from Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium funded hands-on training by the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to teach Chinese scientists how to use in vitro methods to test cosmetics instead of using live animals. In vitro and other non-animal techniques have only recently been adopted in China, and most Chinese scientists have limited access to them.

Be Cruelty-Free is the largest campaign in the world to end animal testing of cosmetics, and leads efforts across Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan and the United States. Vanessa-Mae joins a host of celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Melanie C and Leona Lewis who have given the Be Cruelty-Free campaign their backing. Chinese film star Zhu Zhu is Be Cruelty-Free China’s Ambassador.

For our China Cosmetics FAQ, visit hsi.org/bcfchinafaqs.


Media contacts
HIS (UK): Wendy Higgins +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org
HSI (Be Cruelty-Free China): Irene Zhang irenezy0910@gmail.com

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