Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Open Letter to MAC Cosmetics: Don't test on Bunnies, test on me!

On March 15th, 2012 Logical Harmony ( blogger Tashina Combs broke the news that MAC Cosmetics move to China meant they would no longer be a cruelty-free company. After emailing the company to double-check that they would remain cruelty-free despite having been bought by animal-testing cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, Combs was allowed to post the following changes to the MAC official animal testing statement to her blog:

'M.A.C has a longstanding policy to not test on animals, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law.'

(source: )

Sure, that doesn't sound too bad right? That little 'required by law' because animal testing has been outlawed or severely reduced in most Western countries, right?


The new MAC policy (created after they were bought by one of the world's largest animal-testing companies, Estee Lauder) means that animal-testing will occur in products being sold to countries, like China, which require unnecessary cruelty in order to sell to the public.

The truth is,  testing cosmetics on animal's is not only inhumanely cruel and an egregious breach of duty of care to our fellow sentient beings (could YOU sleep at night after rubbing an irritating lotion on YOUR pet?) but it's also completely redundant: A company can test on animals, find a product harmful to them, and then still be allowed to put it in stores despite the fact that it was harmful. Why? Because humans and the animals our products are tested on have are very different, so this becomes a legal loophole (got to love those, don't you). We don't react the same way. Female humans enjoy smearing bright orange lipstick on their faces, we love mascara and nail-polish, female bunnies and pigs DO.NOT. It irritates and hurts them, not to mention how horrifically anxious, depressed, unsafe and abused those poor creatures must feel trapped inside a big cosmetic-testing facility, having (likely) unsympathetic strangers rubbing things into their skin purely for the sake of experimentation.

Why does it suck?

The fact that a longstanding cruelty-free brand (with HUGE amount of influence) would choose to subject loyal and conscientious buyers to this kind of underhanded duplicity (remember, the story was broken by a beauty blogger who took it upon herself to email the company) in order to gain a further monopoly on the industry is simply wrong. I was lucky enough to find out the news at the time via a large amount of animal-rights themed tumblr blogs I follow, but it took some time for the news to be capitalised upon by mainstream media.

Oh MAC Cosmetics, I know businesses love cash, cash cash (and I'm sure you prefer spraying perfume into a kitten's eyes to shaking your ass on a pole or pressing buttons at the cash register at your local Woolworth, Mr MAC CEO) but can you really justify this after having such a pristine reputation in the beauty and eco-friendly communities? You've done so much for us beauty-product lovers, from your empties buy back scheme to your incredibly moisturising and insanely pigmented lipsticks (which were, alas, my favourite cosmetic product of all time) but now you have, quite frankly, betrayed those of us who MUST choose conscientiously.

And you could have avoided it all so easily.

Sure, you're making MORE money now you're able to sell in China (though did it never occur to you to try to promote a change in Chinese laws and attitudes towards testing rather than just jump on the cruelty bandwagon?) but at what cost? There are small, scared animals tucked away in your facilities, shivering in the dark, watching their sores and rashes get worse all so one company could make a few extra hundred million (or whatever big-ass companies make) a year.

The company's buy-back/empties scheme's as well as the old cruelty-free manifesto ('we test on models, not animals') proves it is not run by idiots. Perhaps that's changed, but if not then I address this open letter to them, the CEO's and business owners of MAC Cosmetics, Estee Lauder and all others concerned:

Dear MAC Cosmetics,

There has always been an alternative to product testing on animals, and it is an obvious one your now-defunct cruelty-free manifesto alluded to: Test on humans.

I know the realities of animal-testing, read this quote from which broke a report naming and shaming saleable companies in Australia which still perform animal testing:

'Animal testing includes poisoning, burning and other forms of torture inflicted upon these animals.'


The MAC company, now under the umbrella of Estee Lauder, has accepted animal-testing as a standard and I must state, as a previous consumer that, when there are myriad alternatives, this is unacceptable.

Any multi-billion dollar company (and hey, any 21 year old with an internet connection) has the resources ready to properly research laws, ingredients and alternative methods of testing products employed by other, cruelty-free, companies such as Urban Decay or the Body Shop.

It is an egregious breach of your responsibility to consumers that you have failed to attempt an alternative method of testing, found acceptable under Chinese law.

I understand that standardized cosmetics testing is required for items to be made saleable in China, however, as the following quote from states:

'The country's 'Regulations concerning the Hygiene Supervision over cosmetics' has been in place unchanged since 1990 and requires that every new cosmetic product formulation intended for sale in China be animal tested in a government laboratory before being made available to Chinese consumers. The government also carries out follow-up animal testing of cosmetic products after they've been put on sale. '

Nowhere does this law state that a product, ingredient or anything else, cannot be tested on a willing, overage human volunteer as an alternative. I would like to ask, did your company attempt to create an alternative by proposing one to consumer officials? Or did MAC just take the easy way out with a bit of shadiness and say 'fine, we'll test on animals to make money in China'?

THIS, MAC Cosmetics, is the idea I propose to you:

Get human volunteers.

According to in October 2013 the Chinese government began formulating considerations to change their 'Hygiene Supervision over cosmetics' law. In time, the world will move forward. Right now, MAC can do A LOT in terms of increasing awareness of animal-testing (the article I referred to earlier states that some MAC Store employee's are incredibly under-educated about the realities of your company, another HUGE breach of responsibility and, in my opinion, one much more concerning than cosmetics hygiene - if our direct line of human contact is misinformed, what else are we being kept in the dark about?!

Your company MUST consider (or re-consider, and appeal to the Chinese government via the appropriate channels, you may have more sway now they are looking at changing testing laws) the alternative of willing human volunteers. If MAC wants to sell to China, and China requires testing, how can the Chinese governments refuse cosmetics tested on humans? It simply makes more logical sense than testing on a distantly-related species which doesn't have the same reactions to toxins and chemicals that humans do.

There are SO many ways MAC could make a scheme like this work; pay starving university students minimum wage to be your guinea-pig replacement (the reality of THAT colloquialism is horrifying, isn't it?), or offer them freebies - your buy-back scheme was successful enough to show that if you offer some make-up freebies for a day or two of testing (legit testing though, please don't just put hot pokers into a university student's eyes for fun like you - apparently - do to puppies) it WOULD work. Hell, I'd do it. I'd do it for $5 an hour or a free (awesome and, if you did this, GUILT-FREE lipstick/eyeshadow) sample. To tell you the truth, if it was going to stop all testing in China I'd offer myself up right now to be the guinea-pig for the entire Estee Lauder conglomerate - acid burns included.

I would really like the MAC company to widely consider ALL alternatives, not simply those good for making a profit. I believe, as human beings, we have been granted an inherent responsibility to care for our Earth and it's fellow beings, and this is a gross breach of that responsibility. I was a loyal MAC customer for years, and I would adore continuing to purchase your products. However, until you re-ban animal testing I must boycott and continue to use social media and other forms of communication to inform other conscientious consumers to also boycott your company.

If you would like to reply to this email, letting me know of any information to changing your policies or ways I could personally help, please do.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email,

Ellen Wardle.

I strongly encourage any readers to send MAC an email, letting them know this is an unacceptable practise. Mine was sent to the following addresses:

In the meantime, while we all wait for MAC and other companies of this ilk to get their shit together, you can find out how to check if your cosmetics are cruelty free/find new ones here:

Xo, Ellen