UD Abandons Cruelty-Free, Challenges Consumers to Care

So, my apologies for being a little behind on this topic. When I first heard about the controversy being caused by Urban Decay’s decision to sell in China, it came via a Leaping Bunny press release. Now it seems clear, but I’m used to so much double-talk that some of the wording seemed questionable. So my initial response was, “Trying to determine for myself what this means and whether I care. These symbols have such a degree of fluidity to them. Not everything with a leaping bunny is even vegan.”

To sum up the press release plainly, the Chinese government requires companies selling products to allow testing of those products on animals. If it’s sold in China, it’s not cruelty-free. Even if the ingredients are vegan, the use of animal testing makes the product as a whole not vegan. Urban Decay will no longer have vegan products even if they continue to use the Marley Footprint, which was created to denote vegan products.

If you’ve read my posts and articles, you’ll know I’ve been married to Urban Decay for a while. Having worked in a major retail cosmetics store, it was my go to brand, my rock. Marriages aren’t always easy; we don’t always love what our partners do. I didn’t love it when the primer was found not to be vegan anymore; I wasn’t in love with every color in the vegan palette; wished they’d come out with another all Marley Footprint stamped palette or some other vegan kit (seriously, it’s like only getting a piece of ass on your anniversary while  your partner is out trolling for hookers every night). I was grateful though.

UD’s Facebook announcement that they will be selling in China was the final straw. Some people may not understand that it wasn’t the actual idea that they would be, oh I’m sorry, that “the Chinese government may conduct a test using [their] products,” testing on animals that has upset me the most. Trying to think of every possible angle, I considered ways it could be beneficial in the long run…all of which fail because in essence, we’re really only handing over our ethics for profit.

It was the statement, “Because of China’s policies, this has upset some of our loyal fans who are also animal rights activists,” that really burned me. Having worked in retail, I have first hand experience that not all people wanting cruelty-free products are “animal rights activists.” They’re simply compassionate people who don’t want useless tests conducted on living animals, which include rats, bunnies, and dogs (yes, they test on Snoopy!). Animal rights activism has such an extreme connotation that it concerned me for years to be associated with it: ‘Oh no, I’m not one of them.’ It conjures up images of people all in black, releasing animals and setting fire to labs. Um, I bake vegan cupcakes…but I’m an animal rights activist.

The wording challenges the everyday Jane to associate themselves with such extreme labeling and to question, since they are not on that end of the spectrum, whether this is something they should care about. It is. Urban Decay has been a successful company being cruelty-free; they’ve actually built their company on the faith of people, not just veg*ns, who oppose animal testing. As Erin Red says, ‘I don’t like those products enough to go back on my ethics.’

Last weekend, I got the chance to chat with Melisser Elliott of Cruelty Free Face, as well as see her makeup demonstration, at The Seed: A Vegan Experience. Melisser only uses products that are vegan and cruelty free. Bummed to say the least about Urban Decay’s, and other companies, decision to move into a market that requires animal-testing, she wasn’t fazed. She whipped out a makeup case proving we don’t need UD as much as they seem to think they don’t need us. She even applauded LUSH for taking a stand against animal-testing.

Melisser’s favorite brands include OCC, Manic Panic, Zuzu Luxe, and Barry M. Check out her site for more info and video tutorials. Also, grab her book The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life.


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