Before We Get Into It, Here's More Information About Animal Testing In China
In China, the government required brands to have their products tested on animals in order to sell in stores. This is called pre-market animal testing. To bypass pre-market animal testing, companies can either sell online only, or have their products manufactured in China.
However, if products are sold in China, post-market animal testing is always a risk no matter where the products are manufactured. This is why the only way for companies to bypass animal testing in China is to only sell there online. Even though the risk of post-market animal testing in China is small, we do not consider these companies to be cruelty-free since their products could technically be tested on animals.
Some brands on this list are not cruelty-free, since they engaged in pre-market animal testing. Others are in the grey area, since they put their products at risk of post-market animal testing.
In 2017, NARS decided to enter the Chinese market and sell their products in mainland China in stores. This means that their finished products most likely had to be tested on animals. NARS made this decision knowing that they would lose their cruelty-free status.
This was their statement on the situation:
“We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods. We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognised organisation at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world.”NARS
Until 2017, NARS had been a cruelty-free brand, although they are owned by Shiseido, a company that tests on animals. Shiseido still owns brands that are cruelty-free and not sold in China: BareMinerals and Buxom.
2. Wet n Wild
In 2019, we confirmed with our Chinese contact that Wet n Wild was available for sale at Watsons in mainland China. Why is this a big deal? Wet n Wild had been keeping this a secret, telling customers that they're not available for sale in mainland China. This could very well be because they knew they would lose their cruelty-free status.
After we broke the news, Wet n Wild started making even more odd claims. For instance, they claimed that they're part of a "pilot program" in China. Although Leaping Bunny has a pilot program in China, we confirmed that Wet n Wild was NOT part of that program.
They also claimed that they were exempt from pre-market animal testing, which is true for cosmetics manufactured in China. However, there's also a small change of post-marketing animal testing in China which companies must be aware of. After all the shady brand behavior, we moved Wet n Wild to the grey area.
3. Physicians Formula
Shortly after it was brought to light that Wet n Wild is available in mainland China, it was found out that Physicians Formula is guilty of the same behavior. Both brands are owned by the same parent company, Markwins. We also moved Physicians Formula to the grey area.
4. Charlotte Tilbury
The Charlotte Tilbury situation is slightly different: they started having pop-up shops in mainland China, where customers can try the products in store and purchase online. Brands can bypass animal testing in China by selling online. However, even though these pop-up shops don't directly sell products in store, we can clearly see product stock in the stores. This means that the products could be at risk of post-market animal testing.
After we brought this to light in 2019, the Charlotte Tilbury brand told some customers that they would stop the pop-up shops for upcoming years. Unfortunately, we found out that they had the same pop-up shops in 2020. Charlotte Tilbury is now in the grey area for this reason.
For the next few brands, the story is the same: they started selling in mainland China.
Revlon, for instance, started selling in China in 2012. Their products were therefore subject to pre-market animal testing. PETA brought this news to light and removed them from their cruelty-free list immediately.
6. By Terry
By Terry was on our cruelty-free list until we found out that they started selling in China in 2017, shortly before NARS starting doing the same. When we announced that By Terry started selling in China and is no longer cruelty-free, it definitely didn't make as many waves as when NARS lost their cruelty-free status. However, By Terry does test on animals where required by law, and they shouldn't fly under the radar.
7. Eve Lom
In 2018, Eve Lom shared this information with us as part of their animal testing policy:
"Eve Lom is against animal testing. None of our products are tested on animals. None of our ingredients are tested on animals. We do not have stockists in China so have not been requested, by law, to test on animals."
Unfortunately, not even a year later, they entered the Chinese market and started testing on animals where required by law.
8. Mary Kay
This is one of the most controversial brands on this list, because Mary Kay representatives are spreading misinformation about the brand. The truth is Mary Kay used to be cruelty-free until they entered the Chinese market. Mary Kay is not currently cruelty-free, as their finished products were most likely tested on animals in mainland China, and they funded these animal experiments themselves.
Just like Revlon, it's PETA who revealed that MAC started selling products in China and therefore testing on animals where required by law. For this reason, MAC has not been cruelty-free since 2012.
Recently, in 2020, Elemis unfortunately started testing on animals where required by law and selling in mainland China. This brand went from being on our list of cruelty-free brands, to the brands that test on animals.