Is MAC Cruelty-Free?

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Is MAC Cruelty-Free?

No, MAC is not cruelty-free. They may test on animals, either themselves, through their suppliers, or through a third party. Brands who fall under this category could also be selling products where animal testing is required by law.

Parent company:

Estée Lauder

  • 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 where animal testing is required by law

    Yes

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.”

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The Truth About MAC's Animal Testing Policy

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.”

 

About MAC

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.

Is MAC owned by a parent company that tests on animals?

MAC is owned by Estée Lauder, a company that tests on animals. Not only is MAC not cruelty-free but neither is their parent company.

In the beauty industry, it’s common for brands to be owned by a larger company. These are called parent companies, and they’re often global corporations such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, or Procter & Gamble.

Most of these parent companies are not cruelty-free, since they test on animals to some degree. They might also own several brands that are not cruelty-free.

However, some of the brands owned by these parent companies are cruelty-free and have strict policies against animal testing.

There are pros and cons to supporting cruelty-free brands owned by parent companies that aren’t.

You can either:

  • Choose to boycott them since they’re a part of a larger conglomerate that engages in animal testing.
  • Choose to support some of them based on the individual ethics of each parent company, or only purchase from them if there are no independent alternatives.
  • Choose to support them since they are 100% cruelty-free even though their parent company is not, therefore showing their parent company that consumers are favoring their cruelty-free brands.

In the cruelty-free community, the majority of conscious consumers purchase from cruelty-free brands even if they’re owned by a parent company that tests on animals. This is our stance at Cruelty-Free Kitty as well. We believe that supporting all cruelty-free brands is the only path towards a cruelty-free and more ethical beauty industry.

It’s also worth noting that subsidiary brands of parent companies are unique corporations by themselves. They act as independent branches and operate independently from the parent company, and can also be sold to other companies including cruelty-free ones.

Another aspect to consider is that many parts of the world only have access to limited brands, so their only cruelty-free options are owned by large corporations. This is a concern we hear about constantly from our international readers. Given this complex landscape, we believe that supporting all cruelty-free brands is ethical as well as practical.

A minority of shoppers choose to boycott brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we make it easy for all of our readers to know which brands are owned by a parent company that tests on animals. At the top of each brand page, you’ll see a “parent company” note if that’s the case.

You can also filter our list of cruelty-free brands to only show brands that are not owned by any company that tests on animals.

Finally, for a list of brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals, click here.

Is MAC sold where animal testing is required by law?

Yes, MAC is available for sale in countries with mandatory animal testing. This means that their products were likely tested on animals.

You can trust Cruelty-Free Kitty to be on top of the most recent changes in China’s animal testing laws. As of 2023, the vast majority of beauty brands available in China have had their products tested on animals.

Mainland China still requires these mandatory animal tests for most companies. Is it possible for brands to bypass them? Yes, however it’s currently extremely rare as brands need to “jump through several hoops”.

One way to bypass these animal tests is to only have their products available only online, and not in physical stores. Another way is to manufacture the products in China while making sure to adhere to strict regulations.

In all other cases, beauty brands need to pay for cruel animal tests to be performed using their products. It’s estimated that close to 100,000 rabbits are used in animal testing for cosmetics each year in China alone.

Even though the company itself isn’t executing these animal experiments, they bear full responsibility. Not only does the company sign off on the experiments, but they’re also funding them.

Is MAC certified cruelty-free by any organizations?

No, MAC is not certified by any organizations.

While companies can be fully cruelty-free without being certified, it’s still a good indicator of their ethical practices. Leaping Bunny and PETA are the two organizations giving out cruelty-free certification.

Is MAC vegan?

No, MAC is not vegan. This means that some of their products may contain animal-derived ingredients. MAC might offer some vegan products, however because this company is not cruelty-free, it's recommended to avoid any products they offer even if they are vegan.

Brands can be cruelty-free without being vegan, and claim to be vegan without being cruelty-free. This is because “cruelty-free” refers to the animal testing aspect, while “vegan” refers to the ingredients.

A “vegan” product contains no animal-derived ingredients, such as Beeswax (made by bees), Carmine (a red pigment made from crushed beetles), or Collagen (from mammal or fish skin).

A company is “cruelty-free” at company level, meaning they can’t have cruelty-free products unless the whole company is cruelty-free. However, a company can offer vegan products even if not all of their products are vegan. If all of their products are vegan, then we refer to the brand as “100% vegan”.

We have a list of 100% vegan brands, and you can also filter our official list of cruelty-free brands and choose to show vegan brands only.

Looking for vegan products from cruelty-free brands? Visit our Product Database and make sure you use the vegan filter.

Does MAC test on animals?

Yes, MAC tests on animals. This means that the brand pays for their ingredients or their finished products to be tested on animals, either by the brand itself, their suppliers, or any third parties. Most often, brands that test on animals do so by allowing third parties in mainland China to test their finished products on animals.

How do you determine that brands like MAC are not cruelty-free?

Most brands don't publicly display their full animal testing policies. We contact brands directly with our questions in order to get their complete policy. If any brand states that they, their suppliers, or any third party test on animals, the brand is listed as "not cruelty-free."

We ask all conscious consumers to be mindful of misleading statements from brands. Companies that test on animals try to minimize their involvement in animal testing, and understandably so—if a brand were to proudly claim to perform cruel tests on animals, their customers would surely reconsider being a loyal fan.

What they do instead is use clever language that shifts the blame away from themselves and makes the public believe that they’re not responsible for the animal testing, or that the animal testing performed on their products is “an exception”.

If a brand is listed as “not cruelty-free” in our database, you can rest assured that their products were tested on animals in recent years.

We monitor every change and constantly post updates. The changes in our database, list of cruelty-free, and brand pages are reflected in real time as soon as we become aware of new information.

Is Cruelty-Free Kitty reliable?

Founded in 2014 by Suzana Rose, Cruelty-Free Kitty is the largest and most trusted cruelty-free shopping platform.

We vet every single brand added to our database by contacting them directly and ensuring they adhere to our strict criteria we call "The Cruelty-Free 5".

For a brand to be listed as cruelty-free, it must satisfy the following:

  1. The brand itself does not test on animals, for either finished products or ingredients.
  2. Suppliers do not test on animals for products, raw materials, or ingredients.
  3. No third parties test on animals on the brand's behalf.
  4. The brand does not test on animals when required by law.
  5. The brand does not sell cosmetics in physical stores in mainland China.

At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we have an unwavering commitment to accuracy. The landscape of cosmetics animal testing is constantly evolving globally. Our team is diligent about staying current on changing laws, brand acquisitions, and policy updates that impact cruelty-free status.

To date, we’ve vetted over 1200+ brands and helped millions of conscious shoppers choose products that aren’t tested on animals. Please feel free to contact us with any questions by using our contact form.

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