Suzana Rose

MAC is NOT cruelty-free.

This means that this brand either tests on animals, pays for animal testing, or sells in mainland China. Some brands that fall under this category test on animals where required by law, which means they're not cruelty-free.

MAC isn't owned by a parent company that is not cruelty-free.


At a Glance

Finished products tested on animals Yes, where required by law
Ingredients tested on animals Uncertain
Suppliers test on animals Uncertain
Third party animal testing Yes, where required by law
Sold in mainland China Yes

MAC's Official Animal Testing Policy

“M·A·C does not test on animals. We do not own any animal testing facilities and we never ask others to test on animals for us. While some governments conduct animal testing to prove safety before they will allow us to sell our products, M·A·C has never tested on animals and we continue to be a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally.  To this end, we are proud to partner with IIVS (INSTITUTE FOR IN VITRO SCIENCES) to expand the use and acceptance of non-animal testing methods worldwide.”

What This Means

This policy is misleading, as MAC is minimizing their involvement in animal testing, and is using strong language to imply that they’re a fully cruelty-free brand. This is false. They claim that “some governments conduct animal testing” in order for cosmetics to be sold in those countries. The country in question is mainland China, where MAC sells products.

In order for brands like MAC to be sold in China, they must comply with mandatory animal testing. Although it’s true that it’s the Chinese authorities that handle these animal tests, the company must nonetheless willingly agree to them, and pay for them.

Even though MAC is trying to distance themselves from the “animal testing” involved, they most likely paid for their finished products to be tested on animals in China. Companies that are cruelty-free do not sell in countries where animal testing is required by law. Instead, they find alternatives such as e-commerce. If a brand sells products to China online only, these products are not subject to animal testing, and the brand can therefore remain cruelty-free.

For an in-depth explanation about MAC’s animal testing policy, please read my post entitled: The Sad Truth Behind MAC’s Misleading Cruelty-Free Claims.

From Their Website

In the footer of MAC’s website, we find a link titled “Animal Testing”. On that page, we find MAC’s full animal testing policy and an animal testing FAQ:

Here’s their FAQ:

“Which countries require animal testing?
China tests on animals as part of its safety assessment of cosmetic products. We love our fans and we never want to exclude them anywhere.

How does M·A·C test its products for safety and efficacy?
We use human volunteers and we conduct or commission in vitro testing.

Does M·A·C own any animal testing facilities?
No. We don’t own any animal testing facilities anywhere in the world.

What is the Institute for In Vitro Sciences?
The INSTITUTE FOR IN VITRO SCIENCES (IIVS) develops and implements programs in countries where in vitro testing is not accepted in order to educate scientists on the scientifically validated safety record of these methods. We are proud to announce a new partnership with the INSTITUTE FOR IN VITRO SCIENCES (IIVS) to help ensure that alternative testing becomes the global standard. By funding IIVS’s International Outreach Program (IOP), we are working to make a difference. The IOP provides a wide array of support including technical assistance in the form of lectures, workshops and hands-on training sessions to countries that rely on animal testing to determine the safety of products or ingredients.”



MAC is a popular makeup brand available worldwide. They have standalone stores, and they’re available in department stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s. The brand was founded in 1984 and was acquired by Estée Lauder in 1994. MAC frequently collaborates with celebrities such as Mariah Carey, RuPaul, or Selena.

Why We Classify Brands Like MAC As “Not Cruelty-Free”

The term “cruelty-free” is unregulated. This means any brand can claim to be cruelty-free without breaking the law, even if they test on animals.

Because of this, we communicate with brands directly to gather information about their full animal testing policy.

Brands who are classified as “not cruelty-free” break one or more of the Cruelty-Free 5:

  • Their company engages in animal testing
  • Their suppliers engage in animal testing
  • They allow third-parties to test on animals on their behalf
  • They test on animals where required by law
  • They knowingly sell cosmetics in stores in mainland China, where animal testing could be performed

A supplier is any company that sells the brand raw materials, ingredients, or finished products. A third-party is an outside company or entity, whether or not it’s hired by the brand.

What’s The Deal With China?

Many beauty brands choose to sell their products in China. It’s important to note that these companies can not be considered cruelty-free.

As of 2020, China still requires most cosmetics to be tested on animals in order to be sold in the country.

As for products which can bypass these mandatory tests, the Chinese authorities may still pull these products from the shelves and have them tested on animals. Although the chance is small, we believe that companies can not be considered “cruelty-free” while taking this risk.

View Comments (40)
  • mac is cruelty free, even though they sell in china, mac doesn’t not test on animal.
    any product that gets to china -is tested by the chinese government on animals, before it is sold in their market. it is not tested by the brand, same goes for Bars, the only reason that Mac and Nars & other brands that are CF sell to china is because of the counterfeiting that goes on in china with toxic products being sold in mac/nars packaging which is destroying these brands images as well as causing hard to the customer that buy these products. i recently found this out through work!

  • Heads up, this article is misleading garbage. MAC does not test on animals, nor do they pay others to do it. The only reason this article is slightly accurate is China does test on animals. The Chinese government, on their own, in their own labs, tests any product that is about to be sold in China, and they do this on animals. MAC has no say in the process.
    Spewing out shady bullshit like this annoys hell out of me. Making note to never come to this website again.

    Here’s couple top search sources:

    • Even the articles you linked confirm that MAC tests on animals by funding animal testing in China.

  • In these modern times there should be no animal testing at all! Surely by now all ingredients have been tested, When a brand new product comes on the market it always contains same ingredients,just different outer packaging.

  • I am having several people who work for the brand saying as of 2017 MAC does not test on animals. Does anyone know for sure the most recent stance on this?

    • It’s true. They never tested on animals to be honest since it was China doing their own thing, but since the permit approval phase is done in china, they don’t even have to agree to China doing their own tests anymore

  • I hope they update this policy! I love MAC but they can’t have anymore of my money!

    • Hi Irene! I am not sure of the cruelty-free status of Elemis right now but I would definitely recommend reaching out to them directly! Make sure to ask them about their finished products, ingredients, suppliers, as well as third party testing. Another thing to consider is whether or not they sell in mainland China, where animal testing is mandatory by law. Hope this helps!

  • Just purchased over $200 this past weekend of MAC COsmetics as I was advised they were definitely a cruelty free line. If I had known they were owned by Estee Lauder I wold never have walked through the front doors. I will be returning all the products and ask for a refund. If they cannot refund, I will take a store credit and let my friends use it. I will NEVER wear make-up at the expense of an animal. Nor will I support China’s so-called “testing for consumer safety” policy.

    • Thanks Jessica. It’s wonderful that you are only supporting cruelty-free brands. So sorry you were tricked by MAC in that way!

  • Mac does not test on animals, do your research. The Chinese government tests brands themselves if they see fit, but the brand does nothing & has always been a proponent of cruelty free. Again, so you research & don’t believe everythign online

    • How is that any different? You would still use a product that would probably be tested on an animal in some way.

  • Why is everyone attacking her instead of trying to educate in a positive manner like Suzi does?

  • Thanks for the brief. We are in 2017 where there should be no animal testing required.

  • There is an app called “Cruelty-Cutter” you scan bar codes in store and it will tell you if they test on animals or not- keep scanning till you find an ethical brand. Hitting unethical companies in their profits is the only thing that motivates them to change

    • One question. Do they go by the individual company or the parent company? Because that can be a difference to some people. If you manage to get around to answering (because I know this comment is old) thanks in advance!

      • Test it out and see! I would think it would be pretty cut & dry… for example, if you scan a MAC product it should come up NOT CRUELTY FREE since they are owned by Estée Lauder, same with any Avon product and we all know that Estée Lauder sells in China ?? and China has laws that REQUIRE animal testing be done. So as long as companies continue to export to these places they are selling out when it comes to animals. Stay away from Dove as well, great marketing but they test and export too.

  • That is fucking horrible of you to say, you obviously dont know shit about Chinese people. Fuck you, your generalisation and your bigotry.

  • either way, some of the profits the company makes from sales in America where they supposedly do not test on animals will go towards funding these third parties TO TEST on animals… how ironic and disguisting

  • and here we are in the West slaughtering many animals and using animals for testing as well! we love to play the victim and blame foreigners for cruelty but we are just as guilty of it ourselves.

    • True which is why more of us need to make compassionate choices so that it will no longer be profitable to deal in the nazi style treatment of other animals.

      • The laws are changing in large part due to companies like MAC and Loreal who have a stake in the Chinese market and work hard to end animal testing. At least if companies have a market and some influence in the company, perhaps they can affect positive change and come up with new and innovative ways of product testing.

  • I’ve lived in China. They aren’t bad people just bad rumors about them.

    • Obviously they are not all bad. Anyway look what we do in the West. Is everyone stupid. But we cannot support these practices. You are voting with your money. Say no to it! Here and everywhere! Distance doesn’t remove us from this. Stop giving these companies money, email them why you won’t buy their products. Lets work together. We don’t need to test on animals for a slightly different shade of lipstick from the last one. Come on guys.

  • Okay, let me just start off. You are attention hungry people. I worked in MAC cosmetic labs in china and they do NOT test on animals. You’re just saying that because you’re an extreme veganist. Don’t get me wrong. I’m vegan also but I will never go this far to compliment about animal cruelty it’s just so fucking stupid. Also another thing that you got wrong. It isn’t required to test on animals either in China. But keep making false statements you’re going to end up like Peta and be hated and then work at mcdonalds.

    • But what can you proof your words with? I, personally, have an assumption, that not everything told in comments can be trusted.

    • They do not test on animals but the law in China requires them to. How is she lying yet even MAC says that they test on animals because they are required to do so by the law! in China!

    • Whatever helps you. All about you. You you you. lol. You just want an excuse to do what you want. For makeup. Pathetic. Go away and stop labelling yourself anything.

    • While MAC themselves may not do the testing they do acquiesce to an outside company doing if FOR them. In US law oftentimes the one who gives the order is just as culpable under law as the one who carries out the act. These are somewhat dramatic but are two well known examples; 1. War crimes where regular soldiers are held fully culpable for following commands that they know are wrong saying “we were just following orders” this is more popularly known as the Nuremburg Defense, 2. Say a husband hires a hit man to kill his wife but the hit man is taken down in the process and rats the husband out. US law says that both men are equally culpable for the charge of attempted murder because the hit man was willing to commit the physical act of murder and the husband was still willing to order it and is therefore considered to be just as guilty as though he tried to kill her himself. This line of thinking is a cultural mentality and is applied to many situations including this. Even if MAC does not personally (so to speak) test their product on animals they do sell in China knowing that they will have to hire a third party to test for them. If you apply the aforementioned mindset that makes them equally culpable. Make sense?

© 2014-2019 Cruelty-Free Kitty. Disclaimer. Privacy policy.

Scroll To Top