SARAH ENGSTRAND ex­plores the ins and outs of beauty brands that claim to avoid an­i­mal test­ing – and dis­cov­ers that things aren’t al­ways as they seem

#Legend - - BEAUTY -

a car into space, ro­bots are run­ning our homes (look­ing at you, Alexa!) and mod­els are be­ing re­placed by drones on the world’s run­ways. Let’s face it: the fu­ture is here. In the beauty in­dus­try, brands are turn­ing away from out­dated meth­ods and em­brac­ing the new, too – namely, go­ing cru­elty-free.

Once a ral­ly­ing cry lim­ited to Birken­stock-wear­ing, hippy-dippy gra­nola en­thu­si­asts, “cru­elty-free” now graces the la­bels of some of the world’s most pop­u­lar beauty brands. Kat Von D Beauty, Anas­ta­sia Bev­erly Hills, Hour­glass Cos­met­ics, Fenty, Ur­ban De­cay, Too Faced and Char­lotte Til­bury all refuse to test on an­i­mals for their prod­ucts – though it’s worth not­ing that some of their par­ent com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing L’Oréal, Shi­seido and Estée Lauder, are not cru­elty-free.

It’s a fi­nan­cial mine­field for many brands, which have to choose be­tween an­i­mal rights and higher profit mar­gins. To sell in China, now one of the world’s largest mar­kets for beauty prod­ucts, over­seas re­tail­ers are cur­rently re­quired to test on an­i­mals. This pol­icy is in­tended to im­prove the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion for let­ting poor-qual­ity prod­ucts and dan­ger­ous im­i­ta­tions hit the shelves. It’s the last ma­jor coun­try that re­quires an­i­mal test­ing on all im­ported cos­met­ics, from mois­turiser to mas­cara; the Euro­pean Union banned the act in 2013.

These laws have kept big-name brands such as Burt’s Bees and Ur­ban De­cay out of the Chi­nese mar­ket en­tirely, al­low­ing them to keep their cru­elty-free rep­u­ta­tions. Not all com­pa­nies, how­ever, have re­sisted the al­lure of China. In 2017, cult favourite NARS be­gan re­tail­ing in the coun­try and an­nounced it was no longer cru­elty-free. The back­lash from con­sumers was swift: #boy­cottnars took over so­cial me­dia and many peo­ple vowed to dis­own the brand.

NARS re­sponded in a pub­lic In­sta­gram post, claim­ing that it only tests on an­i­mals when re­quired by law. The brand also reaf­firmed its ded­i­ca­tion to the univer­sal abol­ish­ment of an­i­mal test­ing with its sup­port of the In­sti­tute for In Vitro

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