The testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals was banned in Europe in March 2013, (following a ban in Britain in 1998) making it illegal to sell animal-tested cosmetics, even if
the testing was conducted outside the continent. But the issue of cruelty-free becomes more complicated when brands enter other foreign markets. Animal testing remains legal in the USA and Australia, although most major brands there have long since chosen not to do it. The biggest concern, though, is China, where animal testing is required by law for all cosmetics sold on Chinese soil.
Thankfully, transparency of both policy and ingredients is improving. If a brand does not test on animals at any point during a product’s creation, then that brand is considered cruelty-free. “You can also check to see if the PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies and also the Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Leaping Bunny logo is printed on the product’s packaging,” says Elisa Allen, Director of PETA. “This guarantees a company’s no-animal-testing policy and ethical credentials are watertight”.
Brands may say they’re against animal testing but if their products don’t have one of these logos there’s no guarantee that their ingredients adhere to these principles. “As it currently stands, when businesses choose to sell their products in mainline China, they are fully aware that the country’s government will require them to pay to test on animals,” explains Allen. However, a loophole that many brands have taken to avoid the CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) is selling online, directly to the consumer. According to PETA, if a customer in China orders products through a brand’s website, then those products do not have to be registered in China and, therefore, are not required to be tested on animals.
As for brands that still have bricks and mortar stores in China itself, PETA are working to beat this big beauty battleground; “We’re working to help the Chinese government end its requirement for animal testing for cosmetics by setting up laboratories in the country to train scientists in the use of non-animal test methods,” Allen says. “This has become one of our main priorities and one we are making important victories in.”