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Thanks to the efforts of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the scientists it funds, Chinese officials are in the final stages of approving the country’s first-ever non-animal test for cosmetics ingredients. China is poised to adopt the 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Assay, a cruelty-free method that measures the toxicity of an ingredient when it’s exposed to sunlight. Although the technique is widely practiced in the United States and European Union, the Chinese government has till now required skin- and eye-irritation tests before certain products can be marketed in the country.

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As a result of the nation’s stringent regulations, cosmetics firms such as Avon, Mary Kay, and Esteé Lauder recently backtracked on decades of “no animal testing” policies to secure a slice of China’s $15-billion-and-growing cosmetics market.

Scientists from the Institute for In Vitro Sciences traveled to China to offer their expertise.

Spurred by this discovery, PETA awarded a grant that allowed scientists from the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to travel to China to offer their expertise with animal-free alternatives that are more effective and reliable.

The 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Assay may only be one test, but its acceptance by the Chinese government and cosmetics industry is a milestone worth celebrating. “PETA is delighted to have helped jump-start the acceptance of non-animal tests in China,” the animal-rights group writes in its blog. “[We] congratulate Chinese officials for acting swiftly to implement the first in a wide range of non-animal tests.”