Are you SURE your cosmetics are cruelty-free? Prepare for a shock or two.

So: cosmetics and animal testing. A volatile topic, no less. And one which, as I have recently discovered, is still shrouded in mystery and half truths.

Today, you could be in for a shock.

NB PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE RESPONSE FROM AN EMPLOYEE OF WELEDA IN THE RESPONSES BELOW, WHICH I RECEIVED ON 28 APRIL, 2017. PERHAPS PETA’S LIST OF ANIMAL TESTERS NEEDS A LITTLE MORE SCRUTINY. YOU DECIDE.

As you know, I try to keep my toiletries and cosmetics as chemical-free as possible. And it goes without saying that I also follow suit when it comes to choosing cruelty-free.

At least, I thought I had. Thing is, you could also be making the same mistake as me.

Given the number of skincare companies in the world which operate – and do exceedingly well – without putting animals through misery and pain in the name of vanity, to me it is UTTER BOLLOCKS that it is ever necessary.

I recently started using a few products from a Japanese company called DHC. I emailed them to ask if they were cruelty-free. Below is the response, word for word, which I received.

PREPARE TO BE SHOCKED.

“DHC UK never tests its products on animals or asks others to do so on its behalf. Also, DHC Corporation of Japan, our parent and the founding company of DHC, never tests its products on animals or asks other to do so on its behalf.”

So far, so good. But then:

“However, DHC is now a global brand with related companies in countries all over the world, including China, which still requires animal testing by law. As a result, the DHC affiliate operating in China is required to perform a certain amount of animal testing on some of the products offered in that country to comply with local laws.”

And here comes the nifty little get-out:

“DHC Corporation and its affiliates strongly disagree with China’s position on animal testing and support the international efforts to convince China that animal-free alternative testing methods are available to ensure safe products.”

I was appalled, to say the least. And of course, I wrote back (twice) to suggest that if they did “strongly disagree” with this law, why didn’t they do the right thing, i.e. withdraw from China until they stopped this barbaric, superfluous practice?

I have never received a reply.

But it got me thinking: does this mean that any company which sells cosmetics and toiletries to the Chinese market is guilty of the same?

So I contacted PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) – of which I am a proud member – to find out what the score was.

Reader, the news ain’t good. And I was shocked to discover some of the brands on their black list (below), which I had previously considered to be “greener” and therefore “kinder”.

But as I now realise, that was an extremely naïve assumption, because when it comes to profit, these two ideals rarely coincide.

This is what Teodora Zglimbea, support services administrator at PETA, said:

“Companies which pay the Chinese government to have their products tested on animals are not in any way cruelty-free, they are simply companies which test on animals.

“In China, animal tests are required for cosmetics, therefore IF A COMPANY SELLS ITS PRODUCTS IN CHINA, THAT MEANS THEY ARE A COMPANY WHICH TESTS ON ANIMALS.”

Teodora also said: “PETA was shocked to find out that some companies claiming to be cruelty-free were secretly paying for tests on animals in China. Here is a list of companies which have been taken off our “Companies that don’t test on animals” list because they no longer meet our cruelty-free standards and EITHER pay for tests on animals in China, OR because they have refused to tell PETA whether they sell in China, so we erred on the side of caution:

Guys, read this and weep.

Origins???? Zara??? Almay?? L’Occitane?? MAC?? But worst of all for me: WELEDA!!!!!!!!!

Adolfo Dominguez

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada

Agua Brava

Almay

Amazing Cosmetics

American Beauty

Amway

Antonio Banderas Fragrances

Aramis

Avon

Bobbi Brown

Brummel

Bumble and Bumble

Caudalie

Carolina Herrera

Clinique

Coach

Darphin

Denenes

Donna Karan

Ermenegildo Zegna

Estée Lauder

Flirt!

Gatineau

GoodSkin Labs

Grassroots Research Labs

Guerlain

Hello Kitty Cosmetics (Sephora)

Jo Malone

Jurlique

Kiton

Lab Series Skincare for Men

La Mer

Lacovit

L’Occitane

M.A.C. Cosmetics

Maja

Mango

Mary Kay

Massimo Dutti

Michael Kors

Mirage Cosmetics (Sinful Nail Colors)

Missoni

Mitchum

Nina Ricci

Ojon

OPI

Oriflame

Origins

Paco Rabanne

Pacha

Palmer’s

Payot

Prada

Prescriptives

Puig

Quorum

Revlon

Shakira

Shaklee

Sportman

Talika

Tom Ford

Tommy Hilfiger

Victorio & Lucchino

Vitesse

Weleda

Zara

It couldn’t be much clearer, could it? I doubt this list is completely globally-exhaustive, so if you want to be sure about the cosmetics you are using, ring the company’s head office and find out if they supply to China. From this, according to PETA, you should have your answer.

And if you want to be doubly sure, check out PETA’s approved cruelty-free list, which, again, is unlikely to be all-inclusive. There could be other good guys out there too.

The only slightly good news to come from all this is that PETA is using a generous grant to support the efforts of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, which is training scientists in China in the use of non-animal test methods.

China also has a five-year plan for the acceptance of all non-animal test methods used in the EU.

And by the way, for all your transatlantic readers out there, even though animal testing is not compulsory in the USA, it’s not illegal, either.

It really is worth asking those difficult questions to find out the truth. And then, of course, to vote with your wallet.

 

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by George

I’m George Dryden - a slightly-off-the-wall-but-in-a-good-way journalist, blogger and almost-raw vegan. In April 2014, I graduated as a Certified Health Educator from the Hippocrates Health Institute, in Florida, USA (more about George)

3 thoughts on “Are you SURE your cosmetics are cruelty-free? Prepare for a shock or two.

    • George says:

      TBH, this is all news to me. Please feel free to email me with any info on the contacts form, if you have it handy. Thanks, Trizia.

  1. Frédéric says:

    Hi George,

    I work at Weleda in Switzerland and I just came across your website, including this answer you received from PETA about Weleda. I am happy to say that PETA got it wrong: While Weleda is present in China with a few products, these do not require animal testing. We have always had a policy of no-animal testing in regard to our cosmetics, and we always will.

    It took a while for us to convince PETA that the soaps and dental care products that we sell in China do not require animal testing. They even briefly put us on their “Companies That Do Test On Animals” list last year. However, these products do not require animal testing, since they have not so far been classified as cosmetics by the Chinese authorities. We know this because we actively follow regulatory developments through our local contacts, and it was also confirmed to us by a representative of Humane Society International in China. PETA has since apologized for what was apparently a misunderstanding on their part.

    Unfortunately, we have not been put back on to PETA’s “Companies that don’t test on animals” list, but this is because we also manufacture pharmaceuticals, an area in which animal testing is still compulsory, such as for most cancer drugs. For ethical reasons, even though we try to avoid animal testing on our medicines whenever possible, we cannot adopt a policy of zero animal testing on medicines, since we believe that this would make research into such medicines impossible and deprive affected people of the treatment that they need.

    We hope to convince PETA to put us back on this list, since it clearly concerns itself with cosmetics, in which the ethical question is entirely different.

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