Beginning next year, most cosmetics imported and sold in China will no longer have to be tested in Chinese laboratories for eye and skin irritation—a move that could spare suffering, and death, for as many as 100,000 rabbits in a single year.

The final piece of a new regulation, issued this past week by China’s State Council, reverses a longstanding requirement that all imported cosmetics---including hair care, skin care and makeup items like shampoo, blush, mascara and perfume---be animal tested to confirm their safety. Under current regulations, each product imported for the first time into China is required to undergo three animal tests, each using three rabbits.

The new regulation encourages and supports cosmetics producers and operators to adopt modern science and technology and advanced management standards to improve the quality and safety of cosmetics.

Such validated and internationally recognized alternatives to animal testing are readily available to companies now. Humane Society International and our non-profit and corporate partners, including cosmetics brand leaders, in the Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA) Collaboration have also been working toward developing training resources that will help countries move away from animal testing.

Through our global #BeCrueltyFree campaign, we are closer than ever to the goal of ending cosmetics testing around the world. Nearly 40 countries have outlawed animal testing for cosmetics, and we are leading legislative efforts in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) where we hope to see robust bans introduced by the end of 2023. In the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Humane Society of the United States are championing the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would end cosmetics animal testing here and prohibit the import of cosmetics that have been tested on animals anywhere else in the world. The bill would also prohibit companies from labeling their products as cruelty-free if they were newly tested on animals at the direction of the company, including to comply with regulations in nations where animal testing is still required.

We applaud China for taking a step in the right direction. There are some aspects of the regulation that are still unclear, including how cosmetics with reported safety problems will be handled. Also “special” cosmetics, such as those used for hair coloring, perming, freckles and whitening, sun protection, anti-hair loss, children’s products, and cosmetics claiming new effects, will still require animal testing. Still, any reform in this, a nation of 1.4 billion people and one of the world’s largest consumers of cosmetics, takes us much closer to the day when no animal has to suffer the immense cruelty of cosmetics testing, and it is worthy of commendation and celebration.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.