Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Tested on animals/Sold in China

By far the most-asked question on the blog recently has been 'Why do you say 'Tested on animals/Sold in China'? in your reviews?.


The simple answer is that China 'reserves the right' to test products imported from overseas on animals. The much more complicated question is 'How far do you go?' when deciding if a brand is cruelty-free. 

Separating some facts from fiction: 

Know this. If you are buying a cosmetic/beauty product in the EU it has not been tested on an animal. It is against the law and has been for over 2 years. As of March 11th 2013, cosmetic products and ingredients tested on animals in production anywhere in the world, may not be sold in the EU. 
If, however, you are buying some paracetamol/medicine in a chemist, especially on prescription, it is a drug and therefore exempt from the EU law on animal testing. 
Same with washing your clothes with Ariel/Fairy or cleaning your toilet with bleach. All tested.

The USA however, still allows testing on animals for cosmetic purposes. Only three states,  California, New Jersey and New York have passed laws stating that available alternatives to animal tests are to be used for cosmetic testing.

It's a minefield, and one that I have written about before here.

My question remains, how far are you willing to exclude brands/retailers that operate in China? Benefit, for example, make a huge song and dance on their website about the lengths they go to to ensure that their ingredients are clear of animal testing at source, yet they are on sale in China. I'm not singling out Benefit for any particular reason, there are a whole heap of brands that do the same thing including Jurlique - which really surprised me. Most brands are shady when it comes to admitting that they are for sale in China. They sometimes will not list the Chinese market on their 'Locations' page because they know it's a tempestuous issue. REN for example, do not test on animals, do not sell in China, but just sold to Unilever, who make household brands that by their very nature are tested on animals, so do you count them? (I don't, but I know some of you do).

After a couple of comments from eagle-eyed readers on my Dr Brandt post last week - since altered to update the 'Sold in China' section to say 'Yes', I did some research (not on those commenters!) across Instagram and bloglovin' and found that quite a few bloggers/commenters who claim to be against animal testing love shopping in Sephora. 

Sephora are HUGE in China. HUGE. So I ask again, where do YOU draw the line? Enough to stop you shopping in Sephora? 

Come on now. Tell the truth. ;)

If you want to absolutely avoid any cosmetics/skincare tested on animals OR sold in China, you can do two things: Ask the brand directly or check one of the many lists available - my preferred one is Paula's Beautypedia list available here: www.paulaschoice.com/animal-testing - Paula counts selling in China as testing on animals and does not preach. She leaves the decision where it belongs, with you.




52 comments:

  1. Since I started reading your blog my skin has improved so much. You've given me all the tools and information I need to make the right choices for my skin and my budget. I'm especially happy to know the products I use are free from testing too. Given I'm a first time Mum to a six month old my evening double cleanse is my bit of me time, however brief! So thanks again.

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  2. I think that cruelty-free itself is a marketing strategy, it's targeted at the animal lovers. The purpose of marketing is to make money and China is one of the biggest market in the world. Frankly, I doubt that the founding of a cosmetic brand is more to love animals than make money. Culturally, animal rights have never been an issue in China.(human right is not evan an issue lol) There is no need to make "cruelty-free" a big thing in China because no one cares. I am vegan, but only in terms of diet. The last thing I want to make it complicated is my passion for beauty. I wouldn't use anything like goat milk face cream or snail essence. However, I wouldn't mind if the product is not totally cruelty-free, as long as my skin is happy, as simple as that.

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    1. It's only simple if one chooses not to be thoughtful.

      As for cruelty-free being a marketing strategy, I would argue that a company going cruelty free is actually a response to consumer demands. These days there is actually no need for cosmetics to be tested on animals, it can all be done in the lab on petri dishes. It's not an either/or choice. I too love taking care of my skin, and love quality makeup and have found no problem having both, while choosing products free of animal testing. It's a big, vast world we live in with many, many choices.

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    2. So you are saying that you don't purchase any products that sold in China or not vegan?

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    3. Also as I said culturally there is no such thing as animal rights in China, it's a culture thing. If you don't understand that Chinese people eat dogs and rats that's you being ethnocentric. I am not saying I support all Chinese traditions of dog-eating and rat-frying but I understand. Expecting a country having a vest different culture to agree with everything that makes total sense to you is just lack of constructive and critique thinkings.

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  4. Anthelios sunscreen, would this be tested on animals or does that come under EU beauty/cosmetic regulations?

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  5. Important topic. Always using those lists when choosing my next beauty product. I rejected most my beloved and very well know brands and also cancelled any subscription/newsletter with them. Testing on animals is NO NO for me.

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  6. I find it disgusting that things are still tested on animals these days

    Lauren x | www.laurenapowers.blogspot.com

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  7. Important topic. Always using those lists when choosing my next beauty product. I rejected most my beloved and very well know brands and also cancelled any subscription/newsletter with them. Testing on animals is NO NO for me.

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  8. I may get flamed for saying this but I really don't make a huge deal about going cruelty free. Simply because everything we use at some point was tested on an animal.
    As a student of nursing who has had to do dissections on various animals (animals raised specifically for the purpose of being dissected) I'm thankful for those animals contributions to furthering mine and other education.
    As a pet lover it makes me sad to think about.
    As a mother I would rather have a rabbit go blind because it had a cosmetic put on its face than have it happen to one of my children.
    It's a twisty, windy road in my own head when I start to think it through.
    So since I have enough stressors in my life I try to not get too worked up over this one.

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    1. I would argue that it is different to raise and dissect animals to improve our medical knowledge, compared to doing so to learn how to make us "prettier".

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    2. As a former nursing student - I refused to dissect any animal. It is not compulsory, it did not affect my course / grade / studies in anyway.

      As a nurse your main aim is "to do no harm". Cutting up an innocent life and saying it was bred for that so it's ok?! What???! Seriously!! Lets go back not so many years - Black people were bred to be slaves, they were bred into it so that's ok right??? You are not doing disease research, your findings are not contributing to advancing medicine as you will know most significant medical advances are made ON PEOPLE!! in times of war, if you don't know this ask your teachers.

      You have a choice what you want to put on your face, nobody is saying not to test products but saying to test them using PROVEN methods in laboratory's where no living thing is hurt. This research can be carried out on cells and has been proven which is why Europe has banned animal testing for a good few years now.

      This isn't about people going blind, or being harmed educate yourself.

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    3. I'm sorry, but your argument proves that people will try to justify ANYTHING! you use animal tested products because you dont want your child to go blind?

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    4. You cannot say you are an "animal lover" and then say the things you said in your post. You are not an animal lover, you don't give two hoots about animals (as you have clearly expressed in your post). You might be a pet lover, a cat or dog lover, but you are in no way an animal lover.

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  9. La Roche-Posay sell in China, so by law they have to test on animals.

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  10. Wonderful post! I wrote an article for my law school journal on this topic (US law)-I find this so interesting and I love your writing on the EU standards. I would love to know how you feel about Urban Decay (famously "cruelty free") now being owned by L'Oreal (sold in China of course).
    Love your blog and your YouTube channel- I laugh out loud watching every single one:)

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  11. I can't believe some people are cruel and selfish enough to say, "As long as my skin is happy, who cares if a rabbit had alcohol poured in its eyes? Look how great my skin looks?"

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  12. I think of it the same as when something says "Contains X% Organic ingredients." It becomes a selling point some what but not something I look out for to be honest.

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  13. Cmon china why you gotta do dat.

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  14. Shouldn't we be more concerned about where the product was manufactured than where it is sold? Aren't products tested before they can go to market where-ever they are made? I would think that a country that permits animal-testing could sell both "animal-tested" and "non-animal-tested" products. And a country that doesn't allow animal testing could only sell manufacturers that have tested otherwise. From what I'm reading, it seems like every country performs testing on every product before they allow it to be available for sale, which seems a little strange (and costly). I think I would just want a list of the manufacturers located in non-animal testing countries and then purchase only their products. But I 'm sure I need straightened out. Where does my thought process need corrected? ( BTW, I've been loving your blog and videos over the last several months and how you "get your apron on". I'd love to have a cup of tea with you some day! Thank you for making time for us.)

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    1. As far I as I'm aware, it is not that China *allow* animal testing, it is that they *require* it for products that have been made outside of the country. Therefore any company that manufactures its products elsewhere yet sells in China will be using animal testing in order to comply with the law.

      There's an article about it here if that helps

      http://www.peta.org/blog/progress-china-allows-cosmetics-marketed-without-animal-tests/

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  15. Very well articulated dilemma for any of us interested in beauty and with compassion in our nature. It is very hard to walk lightly on the earth, today. I do try to choose with animal testing in mind (here in the US), and have not had any real trouble finding products that work for me. But it's distressing in every sphere -- including shopping the grocery store -- when you try to be sure you're making an ethical, earth-friendly choice! (Not only that, but this morning my local elected officials were wooing the Chinese to develop business partnerships here, while the local animal pound insists on catching and killing dogs and cats. So much for being able to live my values, in my own community). I do try to make wise choices and then, get as much real use out of my purchase as I can. Your blog and videos help me to do that.

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  16. Thank you Caroline!!! You are the first beauty blogger I've read to comment on this issue. I personally will not buy a brand that sells in China (benefit being an excellent example), and that also includes the big brands such as Lancôme and Clinique. I will buy a brand owned buy an animal testing company because I hope it will show the parent company that a non testing brand can be successful (like urban decay). For me it's not about killing animals buy tally rather, making them suffer, just so we can look pretty. Thank you again for easing this issue, I think it's so important for bloggers/you tubers etc to do as they have so much influence over people these days and can really make a positive change in the world!!

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  17. I'm vegetarian and using SK-II for many years and i'm really shocked their product are also tested on animals... It's dilemma for me.

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  18. Unilever own Kate Somerville, but you probably already knew that ;)

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  19. This is interesting! Thank you for sharing xx

    Cheryl
    Daisy Candle

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  20. At this stage there's plenty of proven products and I try and avoid it where I can. I can't control what China does and I minimise any needless harm to animals.

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  21. What if a brand ships, from its own website, to personal customers or end users of a product to China? But doesn't have stores / distribution in China?

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  22. I love the way tha tyou constantly ask people and brands about their habits and behaviors ; I love your spirit and philosphy.
    Thanks a lot Caroline, you're a major part of the blogosphere.

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  23. I really hope that testing on animals stops soon. I have no idea why China need to test? Interesting article which has made me re-evaluate all of my beauty products!

    Emily x
    www.emandthem.co.uk

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  24. As you said it before "A rat has no need for a red lipstick or anti-ageing cream.". One thing is medical research another is a beauty product.

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  26. I do not buy products tested on animals. I get so angry and sad about what we allow corporations to do to sentient, innocent and defenceless animals for profit. We should all open our eyes and hearts to what is being done in our names. If you couldn't pour chemicals into the eyes of an animal - you shouldn't buy the product. I suspect that is most of us. And to those who say they don't care about the animals as long as their skin looks nice - I get it; hardening your heart is the easiest way to go through life. But I don't want to go through life easily, I want to go through life accountably.

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  27. Why the hell are we testing toilet cleaner on animals? That stuff is NEVER getting on my skin, so what is to be gained by testing on animals? If we've made a case for banning animal testing in cosmetics in some countries, which by definition ARE used on the skin, where is PETA on the household cleaner front? This is the first I'm hearing of it! Thank you Caroline. I'm going back to using either baking soda or vinegar to clean everything. Both (used separately, obvs) can take care of almost anything!

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  28. Caroline, you present the animal testing/China argument so well. Exposing facts without drama, sharing your own position on contentious issues and provoking the thoughts of your readers, to understand and even challenge the depth of their buying decisions. It is a minefield and there is a lot of superficial , fear-inducing, share-price-driven and 'marketing-packaged' information out there; it makes it even more important to have these discussions - thank you. As a brand owner, I am exploring options to sell 'cross-border' which under current Chinese laws, means we are not required to agree to animal testing. Cross-border means that we take the order in the UK and ship from the UK or a bonded warehouse. This is because my UK (home market) business and customers are very important as a small brand where very large corporates are not quite so dependent on UK business for global success.

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  29. This topic reminded me all our humans life is supported at some point by other animals life and we are also part of that chain. I try to go as cruelty-free as possible but at the same time I really appreciate for those other animals helping our daily life. It’ sounds wired to say such a thing here but I really do. Thank you Caroline.

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  30. I'd just like to point out the animal testing of household products such as bleach has now been banned in UK. Whilst the ban has come into effect this year there has been so little animal testing of household products previously that it might as well have been law a log time ago. Unfortuantely China isn't the only country where animal testing of cosmetics still take place but with the success of the cosmetics directive in Europe and a global effort to harmonising testing, hopefully a ban will come into effect at some stage. I think this is a great subject to raise Caroline. At lot of people don't realise animal testing for cosmetics is banned across Europe so it's great to point this out. I work in the area of animal research, my organisation works endlessly to educate the public about what actually happens so it's nice to see someone trying to communicate the same message. People in the comments who say they would never use ANYTHING tested on animals, I hope you realise that animal testing for pharmaceuticals is a legal requirement

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  31. I do appreciate being informed about the animal testing / China policy. It helps me to make informed decisions about which brands to buy from. If in doubt I email them direct. A lovely lady at Intelligent Nutrients got back to me and assured me that while their products were for sale in HongKong ( exempt from the mandatory animal testing) they were not in mainland China.

    I wish more brands who used to be proudly cruelty free world thinks about the bigger moral picture rather than just chasing the Chinese yuan. I don't even know if all the stuff I rub, swipe and slather on my face everyday is going to help stave off ageing ( bar the sunscreen I suspect not) but I feel slightly better about spending money on such fripperies knowing that they haven't been squirted repeatedly into some poor rabbit or dogs eyes.

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  32. I think testing on animals in this day and age is barbaric and I do not support it and have stopped using every product that in anyway endorses animal testing, even if it is the parent company. When you look into it, there are only a few brands left to choose from! I've been sticking to Boots brands as I know they are "safe", the do not test on animals and they do not sell in China...Boots Botanics and Indeed Labs have been doing rather well out of me of late!

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    1. What!? There's such an abundance of choice!

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  33. Caroline can you clarify something for me because I'm really confused, if a brand tests on animals in the states but sell their products in Europe where this practise is not allowed, where does that leave us?! Is is that companies based in Europe can't test on animals but others can and then ship the products to the EU after testing? Thanks :)

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    1. No it's not tested at all. Nothing in the EU is. China tests in China in their labs. Same products, just tested by the Chinese government.

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  34. Disappointed to hear about Kate Somerville being bought by Unilever as well ( though I only dabbled with the goat milk cream which I thought was ok but not holy grail material). If I know a brand is owned by L'Oreal, P&G, Unilever and more recently Lauder group it goes into my "don't bother" list. There's so many products out there now at all price points that are cruelty free but effective. In Lauders defence I know they are trying to push China to accept non animal testing methods and they hopefully will get there soon. But in the mean time kudos goes to brands who refuse to let their products be sold there until the testing ceases to be mandatory. I would rather my hard earned cash went to a company with some modicum of moral integrity

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  35. I love that you add the 'tested on animals or sold in China' to your blog reviews.
    It's really hard to understand why the Chinese Government still do this testing, especially on proven products that have been sold for several years in other countries. It's my understanding that the actual company needs to pay the Chinese government to do the testing on animals prior to their products being distributed in the country, I can't understand that especially on companies that promote being cruelty free so heavily (money talks!)

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  36. Thanks for the information that Sephora is huge in China. I live in a country with no Sephora so I hadn't needed to check on them, but I had been planning to shop there in my upcoming Paris trip. I won't now.

    So yes, to answer your question, enough to stop me from shopping at Sephora! Thanks again.

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  37. Screw you China, seriously. Thank you for this post Caroline. SO when I see a Soap and Glory product here in the US I can feel ok about buying it even though it doesnt have the little rabbit logo on it?

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  38. I'm not sure if someone has said this as I only skimmed the comments; but that law in china only applies to companies who dont make products in country as a law was passed a few years ago making it possible for national companies to opt out of mandatory testing. For that reason, many large companies set up headquarters in country and manufacture their products that are to be sold in china in the country in order to remain cruelty free and take advantage of the loophole. So many brands that say they are cruelty free and are still selling in china are doing it that way.

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  39. If you really want to know if a product is truly cruelty free go to logical harmony.net-forget PETA or leaping bunny. Tashina Combs and her husband Justin are true vegans and animal activists who do tons and tons of research. They are the most reliable site if you want to know what is cruelty free.

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  40. I'm a bit upset when everytime I see Carolin using the "sold in China" phrase and reading the comments here. I'm Chinese but I love animals, in fact the majority of people that I know are animal lovers. We are for sure not scary monsters with red eyes and green teeth. As for animal testing, most of us are strongly against it. However from the goverment side it is a economy protection measure for local cosmetic/skincare industry, so that if your company want to sell your products without being tested, then have them made in China. This means more employment opportunities, more tax etc. I'm an engineer myself so I'm not very familar with all of the business/economic/marketing side of knowledge but I'm sure you guys know what I mean. I just think it might be helpful to provide a view from slightly different side of the story :0)

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