Latest controversy in ‘cruelty-free makeup’ adds to growing confusion around the ethics of beauty products

The UK spends over £3.2 billion on cosmetics every year. Cruelty-free makeup is one of the biggest areas of growth in the industry, with over 1300 brands being cruelty-free. Surely more and more brands making the effort to be more ethical can only be a good thing?

Cruelty-free makeup, in basic terms, is makeup that does not test on animals. When it’s said like that is sounds pretty simple, yet issues surrounding it makes it more complicated.

Depending on who you ask, people have different opinions on what classes as cruelty-free. Some brands like “Urban Decay” are cruelty-free, but the company that owns them – the parent company, “L’oreal”, is not. Some people believe that because of this “Urban Decay” is not cruelty-free, while others will argue it is as the brand does not test on animals.

The latest controversy involves cruelty-free makeup giant, Charlotte Tilbury, whose sales have reached £100 million, has been found to have “pop-up shops” in China. This is an issue because China the one country in the world where animal testing is mandatory.

The company has found a loophole, where they can showcase their products in beauty stores, but the customers can not purchase them in-store, they have to do so from an overseas website. This causes an issue because the products may still be tested on animals as testers, and makeup application is done in-store, which may happen if the Chinese authorities receive complaints on the products.

Charlotte Tilbury’s PR team was contacted for comment, but EN4 News is still waiting for a response.

The controversy ties into a bigger issue, which is the lack of transparency in the cruelty-free makeup industry. Many makeup brands try to avoid the question or try to trick people into thinking that brands don’t test on animals when they do.

On top of the increasing list of cruelty-free products, vegan makeup is on the rise. Vegan makeup means there are no animal-derived products in the make-up, lipstick is commonly made with beeswax, for example, but a vegan lipstick would be an animal-friendly alternative. However a brand can be vegan, yet still test on animals.

Photo Credit: Elise Kennedy

Cruelty-free brands can be identified but a rabbit logo that internationally is known as a cruelty-free logo, some brands use unofficial rabbit logos which can confuse consumers into thinking that the product is cruelty-free when it is not. This does not mean that if a brand does not have a rabbit logo on its products, it is not cruelty-free.

To help this there are websites such as Leaping Bunny which have full lists of makeup brands that have been officially verified as cruelty-free.

See below for a list of some of the many brands which are cruelty-free:

Photo Credit: Elise Kennedy

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