The Hypocrisy of “Cruelty-Free” Makeup Brands Distributing in China

Makeup brands claim to be cruelty-free, but sell their products in countries where animal testing is required by law

Some cosmetic brands that pride themselves on being “cruelty-free” still test on animals in contries where it is required.(pixabay)

The cosmetics industry continues to test on animals, all while releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere through production and distribution.

Even though animal testing facilities are banned in countries like Norway, India, Israel, Guatemala, Turkey and the European Union, it is still allowed in the U.S.A, Japan, China, Australia, France, Canada, the U.K., Germany, and Brazil.

These animal testing facilities also dispose of animal excrement, bedding, needles, and syringes which are discarded into landfills. Millions of animal bodies — many of which are contaminated with hazardous chemicals, viruses, or diseases — are also disposed of in landfills, buried, or incinerated after testing.

Additionally, the burial of animals who have been tested on can cause soil contamination, and the runoff of animal waste and other debris related to drug and chemical testing may result in groundwater contamination.

Companies like MAC and NARS pride themselves on being cruelty-free, but their products are sold in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law.

China has considered moving away from animal testing, but not completely. The new regulation will only apply for those products that are already being manufactured in China.

If a product is manufactured in another country, this regulation will not apply to them. They will still need to undergo animal testing in order to sell in the Chinese market.

Many animal research facilities require heavy fresh air ventilation which uses a lot of energy and consequently produces CO2 emissions.

Valantina Yousif, a customer service representative at Sephora, says brands that sell their products in mainland China should not be considered cruelty-free.

“One fifth or two-fifths of clients ask [if a product is cruelty-free]. Not a lot care. It’s more so the younger [individuals] who are in their 20s that care,” she says.

“MAC does not test our products on animals and we don’t ask others to test for us. If a regulatory body demands it for its safety assessment, an exception can be made,” wrote a representative of MAC Cosmetics in an email to The Runner.

In 2017, NARS Cosmetics joined the Chinese market, delivering their cosmetics across the country.

“NARS does not test on animals nor do we ask others to test on our behalf, except where required by law. As a global brand and like many of our peers who also distribute products in China, we must comply with the legal requirements and mandatory local rules of each market we are in,” wrote a NARS representative in an email to The Runner.

In order for makeup retailers to sell in China, NARS and MAC need to test their products on animals.

“I know that Sephora, its line itself is cruelty-free,” says Yousif.

“This is where it gets tricky because the whole makeup itself is cruelty-free. They have natural hair bristles on some brushes, which will mean that it has to come from some animal, but we are getting rid of those brushes so I am assuming in the new line we are going to have … fully cruelty-free brushes.”

A research report by Faunalytics examines the negative environmental impacts of animal research.

Toxicity tests are most commonly conducted on rats, mice, rabbits, and dogs, the report says. A standard series of toxicity tests can use between 6,000 and 12,000 animals and may take years to complete.

“In an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity, we are losing species at a rate of 50 to 500 times higher than natural background rates found in fossil records,” the report says.

One cruelty-free brand that doesn’t sell its products in countries that require animal testing is 100% Pure. All of their products are certified by Leaping Bunny and have received approval from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, certifying that the product was not tested on animals and that animals were not used to create it.

Sephora has added green stickers on some of the products they sell online and in-store to show customers which products are cruelty-free or vegan.