Choice, the people’s watchdog, has released a report asking whether you can trust a cosmetic company's claims that its products aren't tested on animals, particularly if they are sold in China as animal testing is a condition of entry into the market.

“China’s increasing wealth has seen a rise in consumers with a growing disposable income, and a sizeable chunk of that money is being spent on cosmetics,” claims the report. “Additionally, recent economic downturns and consumer belt-tightening in the west, coupled with reduced tariffs and taxes associated with selling cosmetics in China, have proven a tempting combination for cosmetic and personal care brands.”

"All cosmetic products sold in China must be registered with the authorities," explains Dr Alain Khaiat, president of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association of Singapore, vice president of Scientific Affairs of the ASEAN Cosmetic Association and CEO of SEERS Consulting, a consultancy for manufacturers of personal care products. “In order to become registered, companies are required to submit a dossier to the relevant government authority, along with product samples for the authority to test. The authorities then do a number of tests, including for pH [levels] and viscosity. They also do some skin and eye irritation tests. And at the moment, these tests are done on animals.”

Australian skincare company Sodashi commends the report, founder Megan Larsen explains, “At Sodashi we have chosen not to enter China, recognising that selling in markets that require animal testing is inconsistent with our stance on animal testing.”

Commenting on the report, Megan supports Choice’s comments that many consumers are strongly opposed to animal testing but their ability to make informed decisions is being jeopardised by confusing claims, such as ‘against animal testing.’ “It’s not always easy to differentiate between products that have been tested on animals and products that haven’t. Like Choice, we believe information should be available so those who want to choose products that aren’t tested on animals can do so,” she says.

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