Animals don’t deserve to die ugly deaths in the name of beauty

Katie Daly 30 March 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media

Image courtesy of Djurens Rätt

It shocks me that animal testing is still a topic that we’re having to talk about and a moral dilemma we are confronted with when purchasing our beauty products. The uptake of a vegan or plant-based diet has quadrupled in the UK in the last five years, which would suggest that animal welfare is in the public consciousness, yet superbrands like M.A.C, which continue to use animal testing are still turning over one billion US dollars every year. Director of the Estée Lauder conglomerate (who own M.A.C), John Demsey stated in 2012 that the M.A.C brand has ‘grown by 10% every year for fifteen years’.

M.A.C operates with some fairly sneaky tactics. They claim on their website that they are ‘working towards a cruelty-free world’ because they don’t actively test their products on animals or own any animal-testing facilities. However, they do use In-Vitro testing which comes with its own ethical problems. The most glaring issue with M.A.C’s so-called ethical approach is the fact that they allow their products to be sold in mainland China where it is illegal to sell cosmetics without first testing them on animals. Whilst M.A.C doesn’t test their product on animals themselves, their compulsion to sell in China where the beauty industry made 395.8 billion yuan in 2020, means their anti-animal testing claims are empty, as they take advantage of loopholes that allow them to profit in the unethical Chinese beauty market.

When looking for cruelty-free makeup, it is important that you look into whether the brand authorises third party animal testing. This is where the ingredients or a finished product is tested not by the brand per se, but on their behalf before sale is agreed. This is the case with M.A.C, which deceives their consumers by stating that they don’t test animals while allowing third parties to carry out animal testing. The popular brand Nars was once a makeup bag staple for the cruelty-free brand fan but dropped this policy by joining the Chinese market, prioritising profit over ethics.

It's time for publications like popular lifestyle magazines, beauty experts and makeup artists to stop promoting brands like M.A.C that profit from their ethical loopholes: there's an ever-growing market of cruelty-free cosmetics, whose quality is in no way impacted by their cruelty-free approach.

Cruelty towards animals in the cosmetic industry is not limited to animal testing, as brands such as Lilly Lashes or Tatti Lashes use mink fur in their false lashes. Glamour UK ran a piece last year that following an interview with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), they discovered that minks ‘are confined to small, depressing, cramped wire cages in highly unsanitary conditions’ in preparation for their fur to be sheared and turned into lashes. In a day and age where cruelty-free lashes are so accessible, it’s frankly abhorrent that popular brands resort to the cruellest measures.

The term ‘cruelty-free’ is plastered on makeup products like a badge of honour; but beware: it does not mean a product is vegan-friendly and therefore, does not guarantee the product is truly ethical. The difference is that cruelty-free brands simply avoid testing on animals, vegan products omit all animal-derived ingredients, thereby omitting any cruelty involved in the process of killing animals for cosmetic use. If you can find brands that are cruelty-free and vegan, you’ve struck gold. It is also worth researching cosmetic packaging.

Even if a brand is cruelty-free in terms of production, that does not guarantee it’s environmentally friendly or that the product won’t harm animals down the line of consumption: it is worth looking into eco-friendly brands which use biodegradable packaging as plastic can still harm sea life.

‘Drugstore’ brands like Revolution and ELF make it easy to choose cruelty-free and if you don’t know where to start, beauty websites like Look Fantastic have a designated page of cruelty-free brands spanning over 2000 products to help you browse and pick kind products.

It’s important we make conscious decisions about what to fill our makeup bags with. Of course, cruel brands also span into the hair and skin care industries too, so don’t think conscious choices end with the makeup industry. Even if a cruelty-free product may cost more on occasion, it’s worth investing in kind products and thereby sparing animals who don’t deserve to die ugly deaths in the name of beauty.