Working with China

China’s required animal testing for the registration of cosmetics poses difficulties for industry and consumers alike.  Since 2010, IIVS has been working at the national and provincial levels with the China Food and Drug Administration and the import/export authorities (AQSIQ) to help them realize their goal of adopting internationally recognized non-animal test methods for the safety assessment of cosmetics.

A significant commitment to change was seen in 2014, when the China FDA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IIVS to provide educational and training programs for Chinese regulators in the use of in vitro methods.  Early success was seen in changes to regulations regarding the waiving of some animal tests for the registration of domestically produced Ordinary cosmetics.

Recent Progress Affecting Change

April 2019: China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) Accepts Certain Non-animal Test Methods for the Regulation of Cosmetics

September 2018:  IIVS Appointed to China’s Alternatives Working Group for Cosmetics

January 2018: IIVS and BASF to Collaborate to Distribute Test Method to Replace Animal Testing in China

November 2017: IIVS Announces the Opening of a Non-animal Testing Laboratory in China

September 2017: China signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IIVS re-affirming its commitment to bring non-animal test methods to China.

November 2016: The China FDA — for the first time — announced it will accept data from a non-animal test method for the safety evaluation of cosmetics. IIVS outreach programs were acknowledged by Chinese authorities, industry and animal protection organizations as playing a key role in this important advancement.

We wish to acknowledge the support of our contributors who make our work in China
possible, including:

Eve Lom
Johnson & Johnson
L Brands
L’Oreal Research and Innovation
Mary Kay Inc.

Avon Products
Colgate Palmolive
Estée Lauder Companies
Kevin Aucoin
Lipstick Queen
MAC Cosmetics
NARS Cosmetics
Percy & Reed Product Limited

With our expanded laboratory space and support from IIVS experts, we will be able to organize workshops to train many more scientists within China on the use of in vitro methods for testing of cosmetics.
— Wang Gangli, PhD, National Institute for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does China test on animals?

Compared to the United States and Europe, safety of cosmetics is a relatively new discipline in China. As in other parts of the world, toxicologists and early regulations rely on the classical animal model to assess hazard. Chinese regulators and government officials see non-animal test methods as an advantage over animal models – and are striving to build capacity to be able to offer these methods. IIVS provides training, informational workshops and specialized equipment to help China accelerate the transfer and implementation of these new technologies.

When does China test on animals?
  • All imported cosmetic products
  • New ingredient registration
  • Special Use cosmetics manufactured in China (i.e. skin lightening products)
  • Ordinary cosmetics manufactured in China (i.e. shampoos, color cosmetics) might receive waivers from animal testing if a risk assessment dossier can be provided*
  • Post market surveillance at national and provincial levels

*Except for the recently accepted in vitro Phototoxicity test, data from non-animal methods are still not accepted

How does IIVS work with China to eliminate required animal testing?

Under our Memorandum of Understanding with the CFDA, IIVS works collaboratively with regulators to provide workshops and hand- on training in non-animal techniques. Workshops are also designed for cosmetic reviewers who evaluate cosmetic registrations. IIVS scientists lecture at Chinese Universities which have cosmetic sciences majors (such as the Beijing Technology and Business University) in order to introduce graduate students to the principles of in vitro methods. IIVS also translates and disseminates important documents and training videos to Chinese scientists who otherwise may not be able to access such information. Lastly, IIVS actively supports scientific societies, such as the China Society of Toxicology and the Society of Toxicological Alternatives and Translational Toxicology, which are embracing these new methods.

How is the Institute's work in China funded?

IIVS has two main programs for the support of our work in China depending on the extent to which the company would like to participate in the process. Both programs were formed in response to concerns by IIVS clients and sponsors about required animal testing of personal care and cosmetic products by foreign governments. Of particular concern is the required animal testing of imported and locally manufactured cosmetic products in China.

Industry Council for the Advancement of Regulatory Acceptance of Alternatives (ICARAA)

Membership is comprised of companies that wish to promote non-animal alternatives on a global level. ICARAA is a working group that adheres to a charter and directs specific activities designed to accelerate the adoption of non-animal methods by government agencies. Members of ICARAA meet twice yearly with IIVS staff to closely monitor advancements and progress in China

International Outreach Program (IOP)

The IOP is funded by industry, animal protection organizations and individuals who wish to support the international adoption of non-animal methods. Updates on activities and progress in China are disseminated to these supporters from IIVS staff.

For more information about IIVS’ educational and outreach programs and how you can support our efforts, please contact Erin Hill, IIVS President or Quanshun Zhang, PhD, Senior Scientist.