Are you under the impression that MAC Cosmetics is a cruelty-free brand? Have you seen M·A·C marketing itself as a cruelty-free brand? There is a lot of confusion surrounding M·A·C’s cruelty-free status. Unfortunately, MAC Cosmetics is NOT a cruelty-free brand.*
I have to begin by emphasising that there is no regulation of the term “cruelty-free” which means that brands can claim to be cruelty-free even if they are not (you can find out more about this here). This also means that, when I say that MAC Cosmetics is not cruelty-free, this statement is based on my personal interpretation of the term “cruelty-free”.
Does M·A·C claim to be cruelty-free?
If you have ever looked on M·A·C’s website, you may have been pleased to find the following statement: “M·A·C does not test on animals. We do not own any animal testing facilities and we never ask others to test on animals for us. […] M·A·C has never tested on animals and we continue to be a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally.”
At first glance, it seems like a very persuasive cruelty-free statement. However, M·A·C’s supposed commitment to ending animal testing is contradicted by the following: “[S]ome governments conduct animal testing to prove safety before they will allow us to sell our products”
Through this statement, M·A·C is referring to China’s animal testing policy. Every single cosmetic product admitted onto the market in mainland China is subject to animal testing. The fact that M·A·C is not itself conducting animal testing is irrelevant. M·A·C is knowingly acquiescing to animal testing by allowing its products to be tested on animals. For this reason, any brand that sells in mainland China cannot be considered cruelty-free in my opinion. (This is just one example of why cruelty-free claims are not enough.)
Does M·A·C have a choice?
ABSOLUTELY! It is very misleading to consumers when brands make strong statements about how they do not test on animals and follow that statement with “except when required by law”. It gives the impression that the brand is simply abiding the law and does not have another choice. But this is false. So many brands have made the conscious decision not to sell in mainland China specifically because they do not want any of their products to be tested on animals. M·A·C could do the same but has chosen not to.
On their website, M·A·C states that they sell in mainland China because: “We love our fans and we never want to exclude them anywhere.” In my opinion, it is less about inclusion and more about money. The cosmetics market in mainland China is presumably a major source of revenue for M·A·C. So MAC Cosmetics has elected to favour money over the protection of innocent animals.
What difference does it make?
Imagine if all cosmetic brands refused to sell in mainland China because of their animal testing policy. The impact would be huge! China would undoubtedly have a major incentive to use alternative methods to animal testing. But instead, brands continue to sell in China and, in doing so, are actively supporting animal testing. By maintaining this status quo, China currently has no economic incentive to change its animal testing policy.
What can we do?
Vote with your dollar. While it is important to tell brands that you do not support animal testing, they will respond to the language of money. If we all stop supporting brands that sell in China, they will feel the strength of our message through their dwindling sales and profits.
Instead, you can choose to encourage brands who have made the conscious decision not to sell in mainland China. There are so many amazing and innovative cruelty-free brands that deserve more love! If you haven’t already, go check out my list of cruelty-free indie brands. I’m positive that you will find at least one new brand to fall in love with!
*All opinions contained herein are my own. This analysis is provided for the reader’s personal knowledge only. Copying or reproducing any of the content in this post is not permitted. Please note that the issues discussed herein have been simplified to facilitate the readability of this post. This article is not meant to be relied upon as a comprehensive assessment of the issue. My opinions are based on my own research.*