Beauty companies return to animal testing to exploit Chinese demand

L'Occitane among firms told to remove 'Leaping Bunny' logo signifying ethical testing practices

Efforts by Western beauty giants to sell their brands to China's fast-growing middle classes are threatening to reverse years of progress in reducing animal testing, say campaigners.

Many UK shoppers think the battle against animal testing for lipsticks and blushers is won, but over the past year four multi-nationals have been stripped of official "cruelty-free" status because of their activities in China where animal experiments are mandatory.

France's L'Occitane, which has more than 70 boutiques in the UK selling Provencal beauty and bath products, has been ordered to remove the internationally recognised Leaping Bunny logo from its marketing worldwide, including in the UK. Fellow French firms Yves Rocher and Caudalie and America's Mary Kay have also been banned from using the logo. The companies say they want enjoyment of their shampoos, skincare and make-up to be spread among the 700 million women in China, where sales of cosmetics grew by 18 per cent to £10bn last year.

Campaigners accuse them of putting profits above principle. The Humane Society International is this week condemning the businesses in a campaign featuring the comedian Ricky Gervais, who will ask consumers to sign the charity's pledge to help end "cosmetics cruelty". Gervais, a noted anti-vivisection campaigner, told The Independent: "Like me, most people will be shocked to learn that testing cosmetics on animals is still a legal requirement in China. It makes me really angry that this is still going on, and it makes me particularly angry that some previously cruelty-free companies are abandoning their principles and returning to animal testing in order to profit from the Chinese market."

Britain banned animal testing for cosmetic purposes in 1998, and Body Shop, Lush and Superdrug guarantee their products and ingredients are "cruelty-free". A ban on the marketing of animal-tested cosmetics is due to come into force across the EU next year.

China maintains that animal testing is necessary to ensure mascara, blusher, foundation and other products are safe for humans.

L'Occitane, Yves Rocher and Mary Kay declined to comment on their policies or their withdrawal from the Leaping Bunny programme, which is overseen internationally by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. Mathilde Thomas, founder of Caudalie, who did respond, said: "We are now selling our products in China and Chinese government reserves the right to conduct tests with cosmetic products but I have hope this situation will change soon by outside pressure." She strenuously denied Caudalie was selling out. "I took the decision to sell my products in China in order to respond to Chinese women's demand who have been asking to use our products for many years," she said.

Troy Seidle, director of research and toxicology at HSI, said: "Cosmetic companies often claim they don't want to test on animals and only do so 'when absolutely necessary'. But it isn't absolutely necessary to sell their products in China, so if they truly had an ethical ethos they would stop animal testing and stick to operating in countries that don't require rabbits, guinea pigs and mice to endure pain for their profits."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living