Navigating the nonsense – don’t be fooled by tricky cruelty-free claims

“We do not test our products or ingredients on animals, or ask others to test on our behalf, except where required by law.” – Estee Lauder.

A while ago I wrote a blog about animal testing and labelling. We still get a lot of enquiries from people asking why their favourite brand isn’t on SAFEshopper, SAFE’s cruelty free list, when they claim not to test on animals.

It’s all in the (very misleading) wording, and in the situation in China.

Some companies are claiming to be cruelty-free but test on animals in countries that require it by law. One such country is China. Although China has now banned testing on animals for cosmetic products manufactured within China, anything imported into mainland China must still be tested.

RabbitCompanies are well aware this goes on and pay for it to be conducted as part of their registration fees. Testing can be extensive – even a different colour eyeshadow will have to be tested separately.

There is also the potential for random animal testing for products already on sale. This means that any product on sale in the Chinese market could at any time be animal-tested. Tests could involve gruesome, cruel, painful and distressing procedures such as chemicals put on the skin and eyes of rabbits and mice, and lethal dose tests where they are force fed substances.

So it’s clear – any company selling to the Chinese market cannot declare themselves cruelty-free. I have heard some brands (like Avon) claim other excuses such as ‘abandoning a market does not help bring about a solution’. Adhering to the status quo and paying for animal testing certainly doesn’t! Indeed if the Chinese government believed they might lose trade over the animal testing issue it might force them to act.

No company that’s genuinely committed to cruelty-free has any business selling to the Chinese market until regulatory changes are made. Truly ethical companies should take a stand, as Lush has done, and refuse to sell their products there until animal testing ends for good.

So watch out for claims like these, from companies hurting bunnies for profit.

L’Oreal says: L’Oreal no longer tests on animals any of its products or any of its ingredients, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oreal delegate this task to others. An exception could only be made if regulatory authorities demanded it for safety or regulatory purposes.Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 2.55.51 pm

AVON says: Avon does not conduct nor request animal testing in order to substantiate the safety or efficacy of any of its products or raw ingredients…Some products may be required by law in a few countries to undergo additional safety testing, including animal testing.

Estee Lauder (makers of MAC, Clinique, Bobbi Brown and others) says: We do not test our products or ingredients on animals, or ask others to test on our behalf, except where required by law.

We want New Zealand to be cruelty-free and are campaigning for cosmetics testing on animals to be made illegal here. You can help – send a message to lawmakers now!

And download SAFEshopper, available as a free phone app, helping you to stay cruelty-free on the go!

Mandy Carter, Head of Campaigns



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo Rochester says:

    Please confirm Palmers products of their Cocobutter and Clarins products do tell the truth, their products are not tested on animals.

    Best wishes

    1. SAFE says:

      Hi Jo,
      We don’t have information on any companies but those in SAFEshopper, which you can see here:

      For companies not listed on SAFEshopper, we recommend contacting the companies directly. Just remember to be thorough, and ask them about their ingredients as well as the final products, and if any testing is done by other businesses on their behalf.

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