Cosmetic Testing on Animals

Cruelty Free cosmetics

Many people love make up but tend not to not think about the thousands of animals that undergo painful procedures during testing to keep humans safe.

With the availability of cruelty-free products and thousands of ingredients that have already been certified safe, the SPCA opposes testing of cosmetics and household products on animals that causes them pain, suffering or distress.

It is also worth knowing that many animal tests have been found to be unreliable, wasteful and even dangerous because they did not yield similar results in humans. Faster, more accurate and cheaper non-animal methods are constantly being developed and many have already gained wide-spread acceptance.

One example is Draize’s Eye Test. It was Invented in 1944 to test for irritancy and toxicity of coal used in mascara, and the cosmetics are applied directly to the eye or bare skin of a conscious, restrained animal causing extreme pain.

It is unreliable and inaccurate because of the differences between human and rabbit eyes. Alternative methods that do not use live animals have since been developed. Despite this, many countries continue to insist on Draize tests as a legal safety requirement.


Many countries have banned the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals entirely including New Zealand, India, Israel, Norway and the countries that make up the European Union. Some companies in these countries, however, may do animal testing overseas when it is legally required to sell their products in overseas markets.


Prior to 2014, all cosmetics either produced domestically or imported had to undergo animal testing. Since then, China has permitted the use of non-animal safety tests on some categories of cosmetics produced domestically. However, animal testing on products manufactured outside China remains mandatory.

What about Hong Kong?

Hong Kong recognises many international cosmetic safety standards under the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (Cap. 456) and does not require additional animal testing as a pre-requisite for import and sale of cosmetic products.


Choosing Cruelty Free Beauty

Many companies say they do not test their finished products on animals. However, a company is not cruelty free if they:

  1. Use ingredients that are separately tested on animals.
  2. Pay other companies to test their products or ingredients on their behalf.
  3. Test their products on animals when it is legally required by the countries they want to sell in.

Assurance schemes

There are several Cruelty Free assurance schemes where brands can seek third party accreditation. Each assurance scheme has slightly different criteria and verification requirements. Of the three, the Leaping Bunny standard is the most stringent as companies are subject to an independent audit.