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Stila Pulls Out Of China And Gains Cruelty-Free Status

by Suzana Rose

May 22, 2018

For the biggest part of 2016, there have been rumors about Stila pulling out of China and becoming cruelty-free, but nothing was confirmed until recently. Since my last post about Kiko's animal testing policy, I've been getting requests to update you on Stila's animal testing policy. Here's everything I've been able to find about Stila's transition.

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Stila no longer tests on animals and is currently cruelty-free. They confirmed that they've pulled out of China, and no longer test on animals where required by law. They've also become PETA-approved and answered all the cruelty-free questions, which I've listed at the end.

Stila Was Sold In China in 2016

Stila's animal testing policy from 2016 is the following according to their website (you'll find screenshots below):

"Stila Cosmetics does not test any of our products on animals, nor do we ask others to do so on our behalf, unless it is required by law in countries where our products are distributed."

As you know, China requires all foreign cosmetics to be tested on animals in order to be sold in mainland China locally (in stores). Even if some brands claim to be exempt from animal tests in China, all of them have to agree to post-market animal testing, meaning that the Chinese authorities can decide to perform animal testing on any products that are already being sold.

Stila Available At Chinese Sephoras

We know that Stila was sold in Chinese Sephora stores because it was listed as part of the brands Sephora China carries (see below). Note that Stila is still currently a part of this list (as of February 2017).

So we know that Stila's policy in 2016 was to test on animals where required by law, and they had a distributor in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law. What changed in late 2016?

Pulling Out Of China

At the beginning of 2016, rumors started that Stila was pulling out of China to become cruelty-free. When I contacted Stila, this is the answer they gave me:

"Thank you for contacting Stila cosmetics customer care. We have not yet pulled of China. We apologize for the confusion."

I wasn't able to get any more information about their presence in China, but their response made it clear that the wheels were in motion and that Stila was planning on pulling out of China.

Several months later, PETA moved Stila to their list of brands that don't test on animals:

There was also a big change in their FAQ, where they now removed the part on "required by law" animal testing and replacing it with their PETA affiliation. On the right you can see their current animal testing policy as listed in the FAQ.

When I contacted Stila in January 2017, this is the response they gave me:

"Thank you for your interest in Stila Cosmetics.

We are proud to advise that Stila Cosmetics is on PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) list of companies that are cruelty free.

PETA was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to establishing and defending the rights of all animals. PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. PETA educates policymakers and the public about animal abuse and promotes kind treatment of animals. PETA is an international nonprofit charitable organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, with affiliates worldwide.

We no longer distribute products in China."

They were finally able to confirm that they pulled out of China, which checks out when we look at Sephora China:

This is a screenshot of all the Stila products currently sold at Sephora China. There's not a single makeup item, and all that's left is a discounted compact case. A solid sign that Stila is no longer found at Chinese Sephora stores.

Cruelty-Free Q&A With Stila

Before adding the brand to my cruelty-free list, I wanted to make sure that their animal testing policy truly reflects this change. Here's what they told me as part of our correspondence. My questions are in bold, followed by their answers by Stila.

Can you guarantee that your products are not tested on animals at any point during production, from the ingredients to the finished product?


Can you guarantee that your company does not test on animals?


Can you guarantee that none of your suppliers test on animals?


Can you guarantee that no third parties test on animals on behalf of your company?


Do you test on animals where required by law?

We are not currently shipping to countries that require animal testing by law.

Does this mean that Stila doesn't test on animals where required by law?

Correct, we are not sold in any country that requires animal testing.

At A Glance

Here are the quick facts based on the answers Stila gave us:

  • Finished products tested on animals: No
  • Ingredients tested on animals: No
  • Third party animal testing: No
  • Tested on animals where required by law: No
  • Sold in mainland China: No
  • Certifications: PETA
  • Parent company: None
  • Parent company status: N/A

It's always great news when companies decide to pull out of China and end their animal testing practices. My guess is that Stila has been working with PETA to get on their cruelty-free list, and pulling out of China was one of the requirements. I hope that more companies currently selling in mainland China will follow in Stila's footsteps. :)

Which Brands Are Cruelty-Free?

Download our list of 600+ verified cruelty-free brands straight to your device. Bring it with you everywhere you go, and never worry about supporting animal testing again. Click here to download

+ Show Comments (40) - Hide Comments (40)
  • Arezo Sonuhi says:

    Thank you for the article! I’m so happy Stila is Cruelty-Free!! It’s the only eyeliner that my eyes don’t react to 🙂
    One thing I was curious about is that my drugstore that sells Stila products told me they don’t think Stila is Cruelty-Free because they don’t mention that anywhere on any of their products. Where as other companies who claim to be Cruelty-Free have it labeled on all their packages. Not sure if there was reason for it but thought to as you 🙂

  • Dee says:

    They’re definitely not vegan though. They use carmine

  • Susan Stubbs says:

    Hi is still stil cruelty free. Today on their website FAQ it says:
    At Stila, we do not test any of our products on animals, nor do we ask others to do so on our behalf. In certain countries where we wish to inspire and delight women by making our beauty products available in the countries they call home, we are subject to local rules and regulations. In such markets, regulatory authorities conduct independent testing in order to satisfy their own local registration and product safety requirements. Stila does not request or encourage any form of animal testing. We seek to build confidence and spread the joy of individual style through beauty.

    It kind of suggest to me they sell in countries that will test on animals

  • Carla Jo Norris says:

    This is old-but-goof news.
    I boycotted Stila, along with MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Prescriptives, but I’m back to buying Stila.
    They make my favorite pen eyeliner, Stay-all-day ( though Physicians Formula Lash Booster is a great dupe), and I love love love love their red lipstick “Beso.”
    Another company that I’ll be looking at for the first time in decades is Cover Girl, which recently earned Leaping Bunny certification. I hear they have some good inexpensive mascaras.

  • Susan says:

    I’ve only just seen this piece but I’m a little concerned by one of the answers stilia gave. They say they are not currently shipping to any countries that require animal testing. The word currently implies that could change. It’s a year since this original post so I’m wondering if it did change.

  • Olivia says:

    But aren’t they owned by Estee Launder? Isn’t that a problem?

  • Meee says:

    Oh my gosh yay!!! I remember a year ago when I was new to cruelty-free/vegan shopping A sales attendant advised me that stila was cruelty-free. I spent a bunch of money on their cosmetics and found out a few days later that they were not actually cruelty-free. I was so mad and i couldn’t return them because I had opened them. Now I finally feel better!

  • Moragh says:

    I’m heartened to hear this. Well done Stila.

  • Alexis says:

    Today (sept 18, 2017) I scanned a Stila mascara with cruelty cutter app. It informed that the product was not cruelty free. I sent an email to Stila and they sent the same email that they sent in the article above. Do they maybe use animal biproducts? Still being cautious about buying…

  • Carla Norris says:

    This is SUCH good news,and not only because Stila makes Beso, my current HG red lipstick!

  • Cyndera says:

    Awesome news! Just this morning I was using some of my Stila eyeshadow, thinking to myself that I will have to find a similar color from a cruelty-free company once it’s gone …

  • Lele says:

    Stila used to be owned by Estée Lauder. Does pulling out of the Chinese market mean no longer being under the Lauder umbrella ?

  • S.G says:

    Yay!!! I’ve been wanting to try a couple of their products but haven’t since they were not cruelty – free. This is cool news 🙂 Thank you for all of the updates. This is my go to site.

  • Sab says:

    Hello, I was checking the stila uk site and as for their animal testing policy they still have not updated it. Does this still make stila a cruelty free company?

  • I’m confused, because on their UK website, it still currently states that: “At Stila, we do not test any of our products on animals, nor do we ask others to do so on our behalf. In certain countries where we wish to inspire and delight women by making our beauty products available in the countries they call home, we are subject to local rules and regulations. In such markets, regulatory authorities conduct independent testing in order to satisfy their own local registration and product safety requirements. Stila does not request or encourage any form of animal testing. We seek to build confidence and spread the joy of individual style through beauty.”
    So they still say they are subject to rules and regulations of certain countries.
    Does this just mean they have not updated their UK website, or do they still conform to animal testing policies, even though they are PETA certified and pulled out of China?
    Would be really grateful to any replies to this, I am trying to make my own cruelty-free list of makeup brands.

  • Megan Venz says:

    When smashbox pulled out of testing in China it seemed as you were more suspicious and did not count them to be cruelty free, but with stila it seems it’s okay? This seems to be a bit of a double standard.

  • Ann says:

    Suzi, we really appreciate all the work you do to publicly provide thorough information on cruelty-free beauty. The follow through with companies that you do plus listing the parent companies of the designated cruelty-free companies, sheds important light.

    I see a lot of websites excited about Stila’s return to cruelty-free, and it is certainly a good thing that they have done so. However, I feel some questions are not being asked on any of these sites. Why did Stila abandon cruelty-free in the first place and why are they returning now? If it’s purely because their profits were not as good by additionally selling in China and losing cruelty-free status, what does that tell us? It would tell me that they are not sincere about ethics but are just following cash flow. I will continue to ban them as I do “cruelty-free” companies that have animal-testing parent companies unless they can satisfactorily explain themselves (e.g., a change in upper management). My reasoning is that a label owned by an animal-testing company can still later use the testing done under another label and claim that there was no testing done for their products. Also, their revenues still go to the animal-testing parent company.

  • Bec says:

    I’m curious why Stila got a different response than Smashbox. When Smashbox pulled out of China you said
    “Smashbox has been selling cosmetics in China for years prior to pulling out. This means that their products have been tested on animals in the recent past. If your personal definition of cruelty-free cosmetics means no animal testing in China, then I can’t recommend supporting Smashbox”.

    Stila were quite evasive in their response to your questions, they didn’t actually say that they’ve changed their policy just that they’re “not currently shipping to countries that require animal testing by law”. That seems like the same change that Smashbox made. Is it just that Smashbox is owned by Estee Lauder?
    I personally don’t buy Smashbox and I’m not ready to trust Stila yet either so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Suzi says:

      Smashbox still claimed to test on animals where required by law the last I reached out to them, and I haven’t received an answer since. With Stila, my opinion (which is just an opinion based on looking into the timeline) is that they were trying to get on PETA’s list because they wanted to market themselves as cruelty-free. I think pulling out of China was PETA’s requirement, so they went ahead and pulled out.

  • Jak77 says:

    This is good news. Stila is too good of a company to be involved in China’s unethical policies.

  • YAY!!! Super happy!

  • Muge says:

    Yeess! I’ve always wanted to try their products but didn’t because they were not cruelty-free.

  • Lalannie Knoll says:

    Yay!! Thank you for this update!!

  • Emily says:

    A great way to start 2017! I hope to see more companies follow in the footsteps of Stila in the next few months/years

  • A Wanderful Life - Simmy says:

    Great news!! 🙂 Thanks for all of the info 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Hi Suzi, thank you for the informative post. I have recently discovered your blog as I begin my transition into only CF products. I was wondering if Stila is an independent company or are they owned by someone that might test on animals? I tried to look it up but haven’t found anything definitive. Thank you!

    • Hey Jen, thank you! As far as I know, they’re not independent but they’re not owned by any of the big cosmetics companies. From wikipedia: “In 2009, Stila became a Lynn Tilton company when it was sold to the private equity fund Patriarch Partners, LLC.”

  • Kate Bollinger says:

    Excellent, I have been wanting to buy the cream blush but haven’t because of animal testing. Now I can go treat myself 🙂

  • Denise Gordon says:

    Fantastic! I emailed them at the weekend with no reply. Great that M&S stocks now. ?

  • Gothic Dolly says:

    This is wonderful news! The more companies that pull from China, perhaps the more the Chinese government will realize their practices on animals are outdated 🙂

  • Aida says:

    I hope they’re doing this for the sake of good and not band wagon jumping, which is the reason why I can’t trust any brand that says they’re “cruelty free”.

    • I think that every decision a business takes is calculated, but in this case I think it has a positive impact no matter what. Cruelty-free in itself is a good thing.

      • momof3 says:

        Agreed, and to be PETA certified, despite all the negative press PETA gets, is something in itself…lots of rigid criteria to meet, not just once, but yearly or every few years. Leaping Bunny is another great certification for CF brands.

  • Jen says:

    I hope many other companies follow in Stila’s footsteps! Thanks for the update Suzi!

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