Three Major Cosmetic Companies Reinstate Animal Testing

Check out most cosmetics and somewhere on the label it will state that the company does not test on animals. There was a time when almost every cosmetic company conducted animal testing. Consumers now take it for granted that the cosmetics they purchase are cruelty free. Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to Avon, Mary Kay and Estee Lauder. PETA announced last week that Avon, Mary Kay and Estee Lauder have been conducting tests on animals at the request of the Chinese government so they can market their products in China. The Chinese government requires cosmetic companies to conduct skin and eye irritation tests on certain products. The companies didn’t notify customers about the change. PETA downgraded the three companies to their “do test” list.

For years, the companies have been on PETA’s list of cosmetic companies that don’t test on animals. Avon banned animal testing in 1989 after PETA’s “Avon Killing” campaign, a play on the company’s Avon Calling brand. Mary Kay eliminated animal testing the same year after the cartoonist Berkeley Breathed mocked the company in his Bloom County comic strip in a series called “Night of the Mary Kay Commandos.” Estee Lauder stopped animal testing the following year.

From a public relations perspective, going back to animal testing is a nightmare. Most women I know, including me, do not want to use cosmetics made by a company that conducts tests on animals. I simply do not want to enhance my looks at the expense of a poor, defenseless animal.

As PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo puts it, the three companies “have regressed a generation.” She says that the companies’ products “are once again being dripped into rabbits’ eyes and smeared onto animals’ abraded skin.”

Consumers do not have to regress with the companies, Guillermo adds.  “We can still choose to purchase products from the more than 1,000 companies on PETA’s list of companies that do not test on animals.”

PETA went one step further than downgrading the companies. The animal rights organization created a petition which asks consumers to “take a moment to let Avon, Mary Kay, and Estee Lauder know that you are disappointed in their backsliding and that you will no longer buy the companies’ products as long they are tested on animals.”

The policy loopholes that make animal testing possible

One Green Planet points out that each of the three companies’ animal testing policies contain loopholes. Avon’s policy states that it “will conduct animal testing only when required by law, at the request of government health or medical authorities, and only after having first attempted to persuade the requesting authority to accept non-animal test data.”

Estee Lauder’s website states, “We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law.” Mary Kay’s website states that the company does not test on animals  except “when absolutely required by law”

“We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to do so on our behalf, except when absolutely required by law,” says Clayton Webb, director of corporate communications for Mary Kay, in a statement. “There is only one country where we operate where that is the case—China.”

[Image credit: Ninithedreamer, Flickr]

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.