Animals used in tests for cosmetics and household products are usually kept isolated in barren cages. Experimenters rub chemicals onto their raw skin and leave it there for up to two weeks, allowing it to burn and damage the tissue, or they drip harsh substances into animals’ eyes, which often causes intense pain, swelling, and blindness. After these horrific tests are performed, the animals are killed.

rabbit animal testing

In the U.S., there’s hardly any legal protection for animals who are used in experiments. No experiment, no matter how painful or useless, is against the law—and painkillers are not required. But there’s also no law in the U.S. that requires that cosmetics or household products be tested on animals—and there are many effective, humane testing methods available.

So why do some corporations continue to torture and kill animals? Short answer: Usually it’s so that they can sell their products in China.


The Chinese government currently requires that all foreign and special-use cosmetics be tested on animals in order to be sold in mainland China. Because of this law, many companies—including Revlon, MAC, and Victoria’s Secret—have chosen to pay Chinese government laboratories to torture and kill animals just so that they can make more money by selling products in that country.

China is working toward accepting non-animal test methods. The government has recently announced that it’s considering a proposal to allow companies to use dead rats in some product tests instead of live animals. This would be a step in the right direction, but the test method that the government is considering means killing rats and skinning them in order to use them for testing. While this is better than testing chemicals on the skin of live animals, rats would still spend their lives in cramped, filthy conditions before finally being killed and cut apart for the test.

There are many test methods that have been approved for use internationally that don’t use any animals, and PETA is pushing the Chinese government to accept these true alternatives to animal testing and supporting the training of Chinese scientists in their use.

White rat in laboratory

We all have the power to help end animal testing.

Never buy any products from a company that tests on animals. When asked about their testing policies, some companies will say that they don’t conduct animal tests unless it’s required by law—this means that they’re choosing to allow tests on animals so that they can sell products in China. Don’t buy it!

The good news is that there are tons of compassionate brands that refuse to sell their products in China until the Chinese government ends it animal testing requirement. Brands like Method, Kat Von D, Urban Decay, Seventh Generation, wet n wild, Physicians Formula, The Body Shop, and many others remain totally cruelty-free!

If you’re not sure whether a company tests on animals, check our cruelty-free database.

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