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Wet n Wild Caught LYING About Being Cruelty-free And Secretly Selling In China

I have major news to share, and I want to preface this post by saying that I’ve done the due-diligence, and this isn’t something I take lightly.

Wet n Wild’s presence is mainland China, more specifically in Shanghai, has been confirmed to me by multiple sources who have seen the products in person in stores, and I’ve also gathered proof.

I’m shocked that a brand who markets itself so heavily as being “cruelty-free” would manipulate their customers and lie to them about their presence in China. To this day, Wet n Wild is denying selling in mainland China:

“Thank you for contacting us. At this time, we do not have any retail partners located in China. We thank you kindly for your interest in our products.”

The response above was received in March, after I had already been tipped off that Wet n Wild has a retailer in China and is available in stores.

Earlier that month, Giuliana, a Cruelty-Free Kitty reader, reached out to me and informed me that she had seen a Wet n Wild makeup display in Shanghai. It took me nearly 2 months to confirm this news with certainty, and gather more information from other sources.

All the pictures in this post were taken exclusively for Cruelty-Free Kitty by an impartial contact in China. They were taken on May 7, 2019 at a Watsons store located on Changhsou Road in Shanghai. This is the exact location on Google Maps:

Inside China’s Most Popular Drugstore

This is Watsons. With over 3,000 locations in mainland China alone, Watsons is the largest Chinese health and beauty store.

Many drugstore beauty brands can be found at Watsons. In the picture above, we can spot Maybelline, which is known to be sold in China, as well as Believe and Kate Tokyo, two prominent Asian brands.

Shockingly, this is the Wet n Wild display at Watsons. They have a fully-stocked stand with all of their popular products.

China does have an issue with counterfeit beauty products, but everything about this stand looks official. For one, this is Watsons, an industry giant with more than 9,000 locations in and around Asia. The display also looks official, and so do the products themselves. There’s also QR codes on the display (more on this later). There’s no reason whatsoever to believe that this Wet n Wild stand is illegitimate.

Typically, counterfeit makeup targets mid-range to high-end brands. It makes little sense to create counterfeits of a product that has a very low selling price. Counterfeit makeup is also usually sold directly to consumers and not mass-produced to be sold to retailers.

No Loopholes, No Excuses

Although there recently were developments in mainland China concerning both pre-market and post-market animal testing, the Chinese government may still require animal tests to be performed on cosmetics. Even though Wet n Wild is made in China, all cosmetics sold in China may undergo tests on animals post-market as of May 2019, when these pictures were taken. There’s no possibility of a “loophole” here.

Whether or not the brand is aware that their products are being sold in Chinese stores, the risk of animal tests exists there, and Wet n Wild products might have been tested on animals, or could be tested on animals in the future if they don’t pull out of China.

The only way to completely remove the risk of animal testing for a cosmetics company is not to sell in China. This is a route many cruelty-free companies have taken in order to ensure that no animal testing is being performed on their products.

There’s a bunny at the top left.

This can roughly be translated to “cruelty-free, non-animal hair that is comparable to the soft texture of real hair”.

What’s Behind The QR Codes?

I scanned the QR codes and they direct to Wet n Wild’s profile on WeChat, the most popular social media app used in China. Here are some screenshots:

When translating the profile information to English, you’ll find a company name: Blue Cursor E-commerce (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. It’s unclear whether this company is responsible for their WeChat profile only, or for their online presence in China, or for their presence in stores. The company offers internet marketing, mobile, and e-commerce services, so it seems unlikely they would be linked to Wet n Wild’s distribution in stores.

Wet n Wild Is No Longer Leaping Bunny Certified

Another suspicious sign is that Wet n Wild is no longer found on Leaping Bunny.

In 2016, when I published a post about Wet n Wild’s cruelty-free status, the brand was certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny program. They weren’t listed under Wet n Wild, but under Markwins, which is their parent company.

Since last year, Markwins has been removed from the Leaping Bunny’s website. This happens when brands refuse to recommit to the Leaping Bunny standards in order to maintain their status. Some brands who don’t recommit remain cruelty-free, but in this case, Wet n Wild’s expansion to mainlaind China might have something to do with their refusal to recommit. This could mean that Wet n Wild entered the Chinese market voluntarily, and not because of a miscommunication error with their distributors.

See Also

Was Wet n Wild caught by PETA in 2012?

I also found an interesting piece of information on PETA’s site. In 2012, PETA states:

After talks with PETA, cruelty-free cosmetics giant Markwins, the parent company of the popular brand wet n wild, confirmed that it does not market its products or pay for any animal testing in China. Markwins has been restored to our list of companies that do not test on animals.

This tells us that Wet n Wild had been removed from PETA’s list, and it’s implied that they might have been caught selling their products in mainland China. If this was the case in 2012, then Wet n Wild has repeated the same mistake.

A Broken Cruelty-Free Promise

One of the reasons why this news is so shocking is because of how outspoken Wet n Wild is about being cruelty-free. On their website, they still claim to this day:

“Wet n wild® NEVER tests on animals, and we are super proud of this. We never have, and we never will. We believe in beauty without cruelty first! None of our furry, feathery, or scaly friends were harmed in the making of our products. Whether you’re a card-carrying vegetarian who is committed to animal rights (and good for you!), or you just love puppies and bunnies and want them to smile (and who doesn’t?), we are with you! We want that too!”

Below is the screenshot where the quote can be found. You can click the image to see the full size.

Blatant Hypocrisy Or Oversight?

We know that Wet n Wild products are sold in mainland China, but it’s unclear whether or not Wet n Wild itself is aware of this. On one hand, they refused to recommit to the Leaping Bunny program, which would indicate that they’re aware of the issue. On the other hand, Wet n Wild is a huge brand with many distributors across the world, and it’s possible that lack of communication or mismanagement led to the brand being available in mainland China.

I’m going to reach out to Wet n Wild again and include a statement from them when I hear back.

EDIT: Here’s my updated post on this situation.

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View Comments (60)
  • This is shocking and disappointing news. Having just moved to the UK I was excited my favourite drugstore brand was now selling here… but this? Bull on this. This is just offensive to us who trusted them because we care for animals and if that’s intentional, they lost that trust from me completely. If this is without their knowledge (which i find hard to believe) then it opens so many cans of worms about any other CF brands now.

  • Explain something to me, please. The complaint seems to center around testing that would occur after a product is on the shelves for sale, which could happen to literally anything anywhere, no? Why should a company be responsible for a third party performing animal testing on their products? If I pull a cruelty free product off a shelf in America and test it on animals myself, would that change their status? I feel like I’m missing something here. Unless it refers to the likelihood that the products will be tested en masse?

    • When beauty companies sell products in China, they know that they have to be tested, according to Chinese law. Therefore, by doing business in China, Wet n Wild is perpetuating animal cruelty by providing product that legally must be tested before it hits the stands. This is why various cruelty-free companies have cut ties with China or never sold their products there in the first place.

    • I guess the fact is that China has laws around testing so if you are going to have your products sold somewhere like that then you cant be classed as cruelty free because you are allowing that to happen for profit.

    • In order for items to be sold in mainland China they must be tested on animals. It’s not like they hit the shelves and then people take it home and test it, it’s a requirement for most products. As far as I know

      • Actually, China did away with pre-market testing in 2014, so the products don’t have to be animal tested in order to be sold there. However- if there is a customer complaint, then the government can pull the product off the shelf to test on animals. It’s a little confusing, but JenLuvsReviews on YouTube has an excellent video explaining the whole thing.

    • I think people are missing the point that there’s a difference in a manufacturer purposely selling to a retailer with knowledge the product will be tested and a third party buying the product from a different retailer which the manufacturer having no control over that transaction.
      We don’t know what the case is here yet, if Wet N Wild sold directly with specific knowledge of where it was going, or if the product was purchased from a different retailer.

  • Many thanks for letting us know! I have just looked at their products this very afternoon and intended to buy some products! I was willing to buy a brush and a highlighter but then I left them just because I found them expensive and decided to wait for a discount. If I would have known this situation this morning I wouldn’t even touched them. I feel fooled and angry. It was already one of the few cruelty free brands which we have a limited number of here in Turkey. What a pity!

  • Ugh, this is so disheartening but I’m so grateful for this information being shared with us as soon as there was proof. They are officially OFF my shopping list! Thank you for your heart-felt reporting and all the work you do to help cosmetics wearers support cruelty-free brands.

    Namaste,
    Akasha

  • I’m sickened by their lies. I trusted them for years. I’ve been using their products for years. No more.
    I don’t buy products that are sold in China. Thank you for letting us know the truth.

  • Thank you so much for the update. I have posted on my instagram. This is not acceptable! So sad, I loved their highlighter too 🙁

  • Thank you so much for posting this! This is ridiculous and I don’t understand how this could be an accident, everyone knows this is supposed to be a cruelty free company. Good thing I don’t buy Wet n wild anyway, I had considered trying something but I definitely won’t now!

  • So sad for this news, I already sent then an email sking if they are still cruelty free, its a shame, with your complete article there is no doubt they are CF anymore, out of my CF list, thanks for your amazing work and effort 🙂

  • Chances are better that there is company in china that has stolen the brand and look of W&W. That is common practice in China as it is allowed by their government. One thing the POTUS is going after- but would never be reported in the news.

    • THIS! If the products are just being sold at Watsons then I honestly think it’s Watsons selling Wet n Wild products without their knowledge. I have noticed that the prices are absurd compared to the MSRP and they never have the full range of the entire line just what they think will sell. Also they almost always only have foundation shades that cater to that particular market and no any other shades. I live in Istanbul, Turkey where Watsons is also one of the largest and most popular drugstores here and they somehow manage to sell so many brands that aren’t even aware of that they’re being sold in this country. When I search these brands’ websites to see where I can find the products the majority of them have no presence in Turkey however they’re all being sold at Watsons. There is something fishy going on with Watsons and their business practices…

      • Foreign brands are often more expensive since they’re imported, and you can often find similar discrepancies around the world (eg. French brands being sold at a 30-50% markup here in the US). As for the foundation shades, it’s common in east Asian countries to only carry limited ranges because their population is so homogeneous. I’ve lived in Taiwan for several years and it’s the same with high end and drugstore brands. I’m not saying that Watson’s is completely innocent here, especially if brands don’t officially list their products being sold in certain countries, but I don’t think these 2 reasons are related to the shadiness of this whole situation.

    • Unfortunately, today they admitted their products are being sold in Watsons in China and have been since 2018 as part of a pilot program. It is in the IG stories. They been knowingly selling their producta there for months. No one stole anything from them. I’d post a screenshot, but I don’t see an option for that here.

  • This is so disappointing. Wet’n Wild was my go-to brand to show that there is affordable, good quality cruelty free makeup available 🙁

  • Thank you for bringing this to light and gathering proof on behalf of innocent animals. No more Wet and Wild !!!!!

  • Thank you so much for all the hard work you do staying on top of all the cruelty free brands to share with us. You are my go to for all cruelty free info and I’m happily sharing this post on FB and encouraging people to always check your site before purchasing. Thank you again.

  • Would like to see this post without the sensational headline. ?? It’s admitted that it can not be proved yet that this is an intentional move away from cruelty free status but then your headline (which is the only part that shows when the article is shared) reads a different impression. Integrity in reporting and media is important.

  • Im shocked. Always used Wet n Wild products, just totally disgusted that its always about sales and not the principle.

  • Ok so, how do you know for a fact that a 3rd party isn’t just selling to China? I mean, the response is typical and they have no reason to lie to consumers when they have a mostly good rep in the beauty community. Th y may not actually have any retailers in China, so it might be a bigger issue that wetn,wild needs to deal with Directly in China, to have this issue resolved. Who really cares about PETA? It’s honestly just an organization about protecting animals from cruelty, that’s all it should be. I’m sure that the beauty company respects your concern for their products, but in the end it is a personal choice on where you can shop and where you don’t want to shop. Getting all hyped up about it, is literally going to do nothing, sure it might D I’ve away 3-4 people from buying the products but it doesn’t amount to the millions that already are loyal and proud to buy theirs products IN THE UNITED STATES (where animal testing is mostly against the law) China can choose what laws they want, so it’s really none of our business what big companies sell overseas to different countries.

    • I’m not sure you understand the buying power of cruelty free individuals. There is a reason Covergirl became cruelty free later on, there is money there. After Nars backtracked and lost their cruelty free status their sales decreased significantly in several countries and they did not even break even on making those sales back in China (was our main focus for my international marketing class). They lost money with the move, but its much harder to pull out of a country then it is to start selling there. So my point is no, these kinds of articles does not only disuade 3-4 people from buying a brand.

      • Actually, Cover Girl was always cruelty free. They just didn’t have the Leaping Bunny logo until recently, so I don’t think people knew (including myself). But otherwise, I totally agree with your comment. Being cruelty-free is really important to a lot of people, and I think the onset of social media really shows just how far the CF movement has and continues to expand. I personally do not purchase any products that are not cruelty free and wish others would do the same.

  • And I went into a store buying Wet’n Wild thinking it was cruelty free, like I read some months ago…I feel scammed and disgusted.

  • Even if this is just a rip-off brand and it’s all just a big misunderstanding (highly unlikely, like you said), I’m not taking any chances. I don’t need to teeter on the brink of my morality when there are plenty of other brands to choose from. Disappointing and a huge step backwards.
    Nonetheless, thank you so, so much for your well-informed, insightful journalism. You never disappoint, and have been a HUGE help in my cruelty-free transition. Cheers.

    • Not unlikely at all. Counterfiet and copycat branding is not illegal in China. When you look at how much these products cost in China compared to what they cost anywhere else that sells wet n wild, there is a gigantic price difference. Also the store that has these displays has shown a pattern of shady buisness practices. So truly right now, there is no way to know with the current information we have.

  • I saw this yesterday and I was shocked! It was like a slap in the face to animals and cruelty free shoppers like me. I never liked this brand that much at all, the occasional eyeshadows was really it. But I’m sure to never buy from them again now. This is so disgusting. It’s like seeing someone who has always been seen as sweet and nice and then someone finds out that he or she is actually a murderer. That’s how I see it

  • I wonder how much investigation actually went into this. I just looked up on google ‘does China require animal testing on all products?’ And the first answer leads to an article from March of 2019 that is titled “China moves away from mandatory animal testing” just a couple quotes from the article:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dazeddigital.com/beauty/head/article/43750/1/china-moves-away-from-mandatory-animal-testing-cosmetics%3famp=1

    “…Association announces that post market animal testing would no longer be a requirement on finished domestic or imported cosmetic products.”
    “…and pre-market testing for IMPORTED COSMETICS remains as before.”

    And from another article, because I was still unsure of the requirements for premarket domestic products:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dailyedge.ie/china-animal-testing-laws-4552044-Mar2019/%3famp=1

    “Domestic produced ordinary cosmetics (like make up and fragrances ) animal testing no longer an absolute requirement.” It is a requirement for functional products, such as hair growth products or skin lightening cream.

    I don’t think whoever wrote this article did much investigation at all, and must be biased or something? I feel that we need to hear Wet and Wild’s side on this before jumping to conclusions.

  • I appreciate being kept up to date and the workload involved in keeping track and researching. But we can’t throw a company under the bus without knowing the whole story.
    We don’t know if this was Wet N Wild selling directly or if products were purchased from a different retailer which Wet N Wild has little to no knowledge of or control over, and I’m not sure we have a good understanding of recent changes in law or existing loopholes. Until we have the full picture it’s great to be aware of a potential change and refrain from buying/supporting the brand until they give real answers, but it’s still unfair to consider them liars and decide they broke promises when we don’t know for sure and don’t have evidence of direct transactions with retailers that submit product for testing.

  • This is just awful. I’ve gone out of my way to find good (inexpensive) cruelty-free products and I like Wet n Wild. Please keep us posted on your findings after reaching out to the company. If what you say is true, I’ll be dumping Wet n Wild in the trash, and let all my friends who buy cruelty-free products know NOT to buy Wet n Wild. Just damn.

  • Do you have anything heard from WW? I think nothing has been explained by them yet and some vegans are trying to clarify this situation. Btw, not all products are vegan anyway, maybe these are the ones who are sold by Watsons in China. If they sell all of their products, they certainly expect to lose all their vegan customers too. I guess, they must have thought about this. Otherwise, they probably can’t get profit even from non vegan products because they will lose reliability. We should wait before this misleading guarantee are explained if they do.

  • They emailed me and said ” wet n wild products sold in China are domestically manufactured in China, and as such do not require animal testing.”

    • Then how cone when she first emailed them they said they had no knowledge of their products being sold there and that they do not sell there at all. Seems weird that they so quickly went from we dont sell there to. The products we sell there are not tested on animals. However at the same time if they are letting their products be made over there they can still be tested on animals even if they say they arent due to the fact that its still new and not every company or factory will change immediately to meet new requirements. On top of that its only 2 months old that they are “moving away” does not mean they dont do it or is illegal. I live WNW dont get me wrong but a lot of this isnt truely confirmed and their email to you and to the one they sent to her is a little shady with the change of no to yes.

  • Please fact check before posting brand bashing reviews like this. As you said, animal testing “may” be required IT IS NOT ALWAYS REQUIRED and the brand does not test on animals in order to participate in the Chinese market. Because it isn’t needed. wet n wild has already publicly addressed this:

    “wet n wild does not test on animals. wet n wild is a global brand for beauty lovers, inclusive of all ages, ethnicities, skin colors, ideologies, and economic statuses. Cruelty-free has and will remain a key pillar of our brand. In 2018, Watsons began offering our products to beauty enthusiasts in China via a pilot program with 30 stores. wet n wild products sold in China are domestically manufactured in China, and as such do not require animal testing.

    Since 2014, China no longer requires animal testing for domestic non-special use cosmetics. wet n wild products were able to enter the Chinese market maintaining our commitment to providing customers cruelty-free, high-quality, on-trend products they can feel good about buying and wearing. As a trusted leader in cruelty-free beauty, we will continue working closely with the Chinese government, and all governments, to adhere to our strict guidelines for cruelty-free beauty globally.

    Stefano Curti
    Global President”

    • Just saw that this was posted on their Instagram. Hopefully they’ll provide backup for this statement. Only posting the reply on social media isn’t enough.

    • China does require post-market animal testing. The government can go pull products off the shelves ans test them on animals. So pre-market is no longer required, but post-market remains a requirement in China.

  • That sucks. And I just bought 2 of their foundations. Boo. How disappointing for them. Lying about it as well is such an all time low.

  • What always confused me about the brand is that for the past several years their product packaging says “Made in China”. But everyone has been claiming they are cruelty free. I’ve always been interested in finding actual documentation, some public records of this. I always wondered how you or other people and companies acquire factual information of their cruelty status other than taking the brands word for it. Do you gain some type of records?

  • Very upsetting news! Its so hard to trust these companies :(. I feel disgusted that they have been doing that, so much trust that was put into them, shame on them.

  • https://m.imgur.com/5ljPFaK

    It looks like the display is legit, and Wet n Wild is claiming that because their products sold in China are manufactured in China they don’t have to be tested on animals. Is this true? I was under the impression that even Chinese-made cosmetics could be subject to post-market testing if there was a customer complaint or something.

    • You’re absolutely right about that. But it doesn’t have to only be if there was a customer complaint. The products may be pulled from the shelves for post-market testing at any time, at the government’s discretion. This goes for Chinese-made and foreign-made cosmetics alike. Once it’s on the shelves, it is subject to post-market testing, which is why cruelty-free companies opt to not sell in mainland China (except, like in the case of e.l.f., it’s only through e-commerce). No company can state that they are cruelty-free if they are selling direct to stores in China. And WnW not only has been selling in China for a while now, they have been lying to us the whole time, claiming that they don’t sell in China. Only when they were caught did they release a cockamamie statement, oversimplifying the laws and telling more lies.

  • A quick google search pulls tons of articles about China ending the requirement for cosmetics to be tested on animals. I really don’t think it’s fair to assume that just because wet n wild is being sold in China means they’re no longer cruelty free. I’m going to need more evidence to buy this claim that the brand was caught “lying”. Hopefully you hear back from the brand soon, very curious to see what they say & hear both sides of the story

  • Being outraged over a product being tested in animals while ignoring that every ingredient was to begin with is ridiculous. There is no such thing as cruelty free makeup.

  • Thanks for letting me know the latest on wet,n,wild. I don’t buy this products but will know in future not to buy it & will pass the word around. X

  • Please update us once you hear back from the brand. This article seems to jump to a lot of conclusions, I would be interested to hear what the company has to say for itself/both sides of the story

  • Cover Girl is now cruelty free but Wet n Wild isn’t. How disappointing that Wet n Wild’s status has changed. Looks like I will be buying Cover Girl instead of Wet and Wild. Thank you so much for sharing and all the work you do to provide your newsletter!

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