The Truth About Mary Kay’s Animal Testing Policy (2016)


I’ve been getting a lot of questions and, well, opposition to Mary Kay being on my list of brands that test on animals.

After looking into this company, I can see that they’re very vocal about them “not testing on animals”, so this might come as a shock to some: Mary Kay tests on animals where required by law. And unfortunately, they do sell in mainland China.

At A Glance

  • Finished products tested on animals: NO
  • Ingredients tested on animals: NO
  • Third party animal testing: NO
  • Tested on animals where required by law: YES
  • Sold in mainland China: YES
  • Certifications: NONE (On PETA’s “do test” list)
  • Parent company: N/A

Cruelty-Free Pioneers

From Wikipedia, we learn that Mary Kay was among the first beauty brands to drop animal testing:

In 1989 the company announced a moratorium on animal testing of its products, after pressure from animal rights groups. They were among the first in their industry to do so and to sign the PETA pledge.

This might explain why being cruelty-free is a part of the company’s ethos and culture, but the sad fact is that Mary Kay went back to animal testing in 2012 when they joined the Chinese market.

Not accurate since 2012.
Not accurate since 2012.

Presence in China

Mary Kay currently has a presence in more than 35 countries, including China.


Because animal testing is required by law for foreign cosmetics selling in China, they forfeited their cruelty-free status in 2012. They’ve also been removed from PETA’s cruelty-free list.


Current Animal Testing Policy

Here’s a statement from Beth Lange, Mary Kay’s Chief Scientific Officer, which confirms Mary Kay’s “unless required by law” position:

“Mary Kay does not conduct animal testing on its products or ingredients, nor ask others to do so on its behalf, except when absolutely required by law. There is only one country where the company operates – among more than 35 around the world – where that is the case and where the company is required by law to submit products for testing – China.”

The source can be found here.

It’s too bad that a company who was among the first to put an end to animal testing decided to take a step back. Mary Kay isn’t cruelty-free, and I won’t be supporting this company.

  • Isobel Bruning

    Really informative post, I am currently become cruelty free! :)

    • Suzi | Cruelty-Free Kitty

      That’s awesome, glad it helped! :)

  • Cydney

    I knew it, thanks for sharing! I was recently demonstrated some Mary Kay products by a rep, first of all not impressed they use microbeads as exfoliant and saw they’re in China, very informative though so thank you 😁

    • Suzi | Cruelty-Free Kitty

      Plastic microbeads?! o_o Hah, you’re welcome and I’m glad it was helpful!

  • Suzi | Cruelty-Free Kitty

    They were doing so great!

  • Suzi | Cruelty-Free Kitty

    I don’t really get that logic haha. Thanks Danielle! :)

  • Brianna


  • Suzi | Cruelty-Free Kitty

    I appreciate your input, but this article just shows that Mary Kay tests on animals in China.

  • Jodie Martin Cordell

    Mary Kay didn’t “go back” to animal testing. The truth is Mary Kay stayed out of China for many years while trying to battle the use of animal testing from the outside. However, the Chinese government was less interested in an outside company that didn’t have a stake in their market. So, in 2012 they made the decision to go into the Chinese market to help change the legislation and thinking of the Chinese government and scientists, showing them alternative methods to animal testing. Mary Kay will again be 100% cruelty-free once the Chinese stop their practices of animal cruelty. Again, the research is there if you simply dig deep enough. Most people just stop at the top of the info without finding out the real truth. Here’s the story…again.