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Major brands that do STILL test on animals
One may have assumed that most major cosmetics brands were on board with alternatives to cruel animal testing but unfortunately many global powerhouses still test on animals and use animal derivatives. It can be confusing to find out which brands are completely cruelty-free and/or vegan. For instance, L’Oréal, which doesn’t test on animals in the United States, does test on them in China, where animal testing is required in order for foreign brands to sell there. It’s important to read the fine print when reading brand policies, as many of them will state that they are cruelty-free but include a clause stating “except when required by law”.
It is also important to not be fooled by claims on a label that state that a product wasn’t tested on animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for example, doesn’t regulate the labels “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals”, so companies can put this on their packaging even if the product or ingredients have been tested on animals.
Here are some of the top cosmetics brands whose products are still tested on animals:
Almay is owned by Revlon and shares the policy of its parent company, meaning they test on animals where required by law. They are also sold in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics brands and are therefore not a cruelty-free brand.
When we think of Avon, we think of the “Avon lady” who sold makeup door to door? Well, unfortunately this antiquated idea isn’t far off from the brand’s old-fashioned idea of testing cosmetics on animals.
While Benefit’s pink, innocent 1950s imagery in advertising is all shiny and sweet; tests on animals are still being conducted behind the scenes.
One of the really big global players in cosmetics continues to put animals through terrifying suffering and although animals do not concern themselves with wrinkles, they still need to go through horrors in order for us to get our anti-wrinkle cream.
Estée Lauder is the parent company of a whole lot of subsidiaries. And while Smashbox and Aveda are both cruelty-free, other brands in its catalogue aren’t—including its namesake brand, as well as Clinique, Bobbi Brown, La Mer, and Origins, among others.
Lancôme is owned by L’Oreal and follows the same policy, testing on animals where required by law. Since Lancôme is also sold in stores in China, it cannot be considered a cruelty-free brand.
L’Oreal has a famously misleading animal testing FAQ. They claim “L’Oréal no longer tests any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others.” They do add a loophole to this, claiming “An exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes.” Seeing as they are selling products in China where animal testing is mandatory for foreign brands, their statements aren’t just misleading; they also cannot be considered a cruelty-free brand.
MAC Cosmetics is undoubtedly one of the most well-known makeup brands of all time, and they used to, in fact, be a cruelty-free brand. They are owned by Estée Lauder, whose animal testing policy is to only test on animals where required by law. Because MAC is now sold in China, where animal testing is required, MAC isn’t a cruelty-free company anymore.
This brand has become big through its theatrical-quality makeup, which can look brighter and be longer lasting. You don’t however, need to purchase these products, as nowadays, high-pigment makeup isn’t hard to come by, and you can choose from many compassionate, cruelty-free options.
Just like with Avon, Mary Kay’s representatives are sometimes responsible for misleading customers regarding its animal testing policy. While they like to claim that they do “not test on animals”, they actually do test on animals where required by law. in 2012 they unfortunately started testing on animals again, after decades of abstaining from it, when they decided to enter the Chinese market.
Max Factor is another drugstore brand, primarily sold in Europe. They are, however, also sold in China, which means that they are not a cruelty-free brand. Their parent company Coty shares the same policy to test on animals where required by law.
Another extremely famous cosmetics brand that advertises with fresh, young faces, while hiding the suffering animals are put through in its labs, is this global giant.
OPI is owned by Coty, Inc., and was previously considered cruelty-free. It decided to sell in China, however and cannot claim to be cruelty-free anymore.
Revlon, much like L’Oreal, is a privately held company which tests on animals where required by law. Since they are sold in China, they are subject to animal testing and therefore not cruelty-free.
Rimmel London claims to be “against animal testing”, but behind that misleading statement, the brand is not cruelty-free, as it’s sold in China. When confronted on why they are selling their products in China, they state “Chinese consumers have made it clear they want Rimmel London. It would not be right to deprive them of the products they want to use and enjoy. Our industry continues to work together in encouraging the Chinese authorities to accept more modernized non-animal safety testing methods.”
While there are many cruelty-free brands sold in Sephora stores globally, Sephora’s own brand is NOT cruelty-free. Sephora sells its products in China and is therefore not cruelty-free.
Shiseido is a luxury Japanese beauty company with a long brand history. Shiseido’s policy states that it does not test its cosmetic products or ingredients on animals except when required by law.
Tom Ford is owned by Estée Lauder, and it shares their animal testing policy to test when required by law and are therefore not cruelty-free.
After years of commitment to its policy never to test on animals, the company has chosen to give into the demand in China. Seeing as they are now retailing in the mainland, they are no longer cruelty-free.
Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent is owned by L’Oreal, and adheres to its animal testing policy, to test when required by law and are therefore not cruelty-free.
For a wide selection of vegan and cruelty-free alternatives, check out our list of brands.