Estee Lauder, Avon & Mary Kay have Resumed Animal Testing (after 20 year Hiatus).

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Editor’s note: After a number of comments and discussion around this post (which we love!), we’ve updated some of the sourcing. If you have additional information, please leave it in the comments and we’d love to have a mindful dialogue around this issue.


Back in the late 80s and early 90s, pressure from various animal rights groups including PETA lead many cosmetic companies to stop testing their products on animals.

Amongst them were beauty giants Estee Lauder, Avon and Mary Kay. For more than 20 years, the companies made frequent appearances on “cruelty-free” lists, but today that is no longer the case.

In what many see as a step backwards, the three companies have resumed testing on animals in order to sell their products in China.

It’s no surprise that companies want to sell their products in China. Business analysts says China is expected to be:

“One of the most valuable markets for beauty and personal care [and account] for around one fifth of global value growth for the world’s beauty and personal care market“.

In other words, it really is all about the money. And while in theory I have no problem with a business wanting to make money, I have a real problem with companies who do so at the expense of animals for something as frivolous as cosmetics.

Lest anyone not think the animals suffer, they would be sadly mistaken. I’ll spare the reader the graphic photos that can be found on the internet. But in short, many of the tests for sensitivity involve smearing various chemicals into the eyes of rabbits. Rabbits are a favorite for this because they have no tear ducts and the products do not wash out. Even if the animals do survive the testing, they are almost always euthanized at the end of the testing.


While those who read this piece may want to boycott these companies, it’s important to know just how extensive the Estee Lauder brand is. In another addition to it’s eponymous-named brand, the Estee Lauder group includes

Aramis, Clinique, Origins, Le Labo, M.A.C, Bobbi Brown, La Mer and  Aveda. It is also the global licensee for fragrances and/or cosmetics sold under brand names, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Tom Ford and Coach. “

That’s a lot of brands.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Origins and Aveda are favorites of many who like “natural” products. (The well-known mind-body physician Dr. Andrew Weil even has a line of products for Origins.)

In any case, it’s up to us, the consumers to decide how we spend our money. As someone who used to be a fan of many products from these lines, I just cannot justify my love for a specific lipstick or shampoo while simultaneously knowing that an animal suffered and died for it—especially when there are so many alternatives available.

How do I know there are alternatives to animal testing? Just look at the companies who make and sell products that are just as good as the aforementioned brand’s (if not better), and still refuse to test on animals.

I urge those that are enraged by the brand’s reverting back to animal testing to contact the customer relations departments of these respective companies to let your feelings be known.

There is an undeniable power in numbers—and hopefully these companies will admit that this a massive step backwards.


Lately, there have been many questions in the wake of confusion regarding China’s legislation from last June that supposedly ended animal testing. First, it’s not true that China has ended animal testing for cosmetics—it has ended it for those made there. Any products that are not made there must still be tested on animals and this includes these three aforementioned companies.

Furthermore, there is some confusion about whether these companies test on animals or not, and that it is a case where the devil is in the details. Technically, it’s the government who is calling for and conducting the tests. However, the companies are aware of this and allowing their non-Chinese made products to be tested on animals.

Also, please be aware it isn’t just China that requires animal testing. These companies and others continue to sell in markets where animal testing is required.


Relephant video about animal testing:

Want to buy cruelty-free cosmetics? PETA’s full list.



Huffington Post Green

Humane Society International


Author: Kimberly Lo

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Troy Trolley/ Flickr & Understanding Animal Research/Flickr

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Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.

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anonymous Apr 1, 2016 6:30pm

Mary Kay does not test on animals, nor do they pay anyone to do so, nor do they condone this action.

anonymous Mar 7, 2016 9:55pm

There is such a lack of reading comprehension in this thread. It is very simple people. If Avon, Mary Kay, and Estee Lauder or any cosmetics company wants to sell their products in China local laws require these companies to have their products tested on animals BEFORE THE Y SELL TO THE PUBLIC. The Snopes link explains this if readers bother to go past the first two lines of the article. SHEESH!!!

anonymous Jan 7, 2016 6:17pm

China is doing the testing in China unless of course the companies sell out and give China control of their products. Maybe everyone needs to boycott China instead.

anonymous Jan 7, 2016 6:11pm

China is at fault requiring the testing.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 12:43pm

I have personally written to Avon, Estee Lauder, as well as Mary Kay stating that I will spread this message to everyone I know personally so people move away from funding these sick entities. I hope other people will too. Change comes from action. Period. Chemicals produced in factories are meant for factory purposes only. Not the human skin. Not animal skin. It is not natural and not logical.

They wouldn't have to test on animals if their products used ingredients that came from the natural world. Instead, their products contain chemicals that are manufactured in test-tubes, are so volatile that they need a chemistry lab and factory to be contained and stored. Chemicals that are so damaging and disruptive to the human and animal system that they aren't found in nature. Things like Propylparabens, Oxybenzones and Benzyl Salicylate.

Afterall, safety comes first for both humans and animals and if they can't put it on their own skin first, then they shouldn't put it on the skin of other living and breathing creatures and then market it up saying that it is safe, gentle, natural or effective for attaining beautiful and radiant skin…
They feel pain, they suffer. Period. This isn't promoting health. This is promoting a massive sickness.

anonymous Nov 8, 2015 5:58am

Even the Snopes article you posted to defend yourself contradicts the article that you used as the cornerstone of your post. Until you can figure out for yourself how, there’s no further debate possible. 🙁

anonymous Sep 7, 2015 2:31am

Disgusting, try it on yourselves, grow some balls and tell the Chinese the products are tested on humans and not animals, will now stop buying your products.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 1:52pm

Kimberley Lo – If China wants products to be tested, they should test them on THEMSELVES ……and leave the poor animals alone. China is well known to TORTURE animals for the sake of themselves. The list just goes on an on about the Chinese torturing animals. They must stop. They should test it on their own people!!!!

anonymous Jun 23, 2015 2:31pm

Perhaps timely, Humane Society has just spearheaded the introduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act. Call your legislator and ask him/her to support this bill. Go here for more information:

anonymous Jun 14, 2015 1:15pm

your blog is inaccurate and purposefully misleading. EVEN your little snopes link proves that. while Avon as a company does not test, product is sold in china and they may opt to test it before selling it. that's their choice after you buy something its yours to use. nothing sold in the states will ever have been tested on animals. as it is not AVON that is testing.
when I took Grammar composition I was taught how to document my sources. you really need to do that if your going to start accusing people and companies of animal testing. I don't mean this to be mean, but I am tired of people spouting and re spawning lies without bothering to see if its true first.

    anonymous Jun 14, 2015 4:38pm

    Amanda you are misreading the statement. PETA is saying that these companies have resumed their own animal testing (not an outside entity) in order to meet regulations to sell the products in China. Theyre also stating that there are other methods available to comply with the required testing in order to sell to the Chinese market.

    "animal rights organization PETA removed the companies from their cruelty-free list after discovering that they had returned to using testing on animals for their products. The three companies began the tests again in order to satisfy regulations from the Chinese government so they could sell their products in China. However, PETA contends that there are alternative testing methods that are just as effective and widely used in the US.

    Kathy Guillermo, the Vice President of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations was saddened by the move: “Avon, Estée Lauder, and Mary Kay have regressed a generation: Their products are once again being dripped into rabbits’ eyes and smeared onto animals’ abraded skin.” She’s urging customers to choose cruelty-free products instead."

    anonymous Jun 15, 2015 1:41pm

    I have no idea why you are claiming this is misleading. The truth is, any product that is sold in China and not made there must be tested on animals even under the new legislation.

    No where did I say or imply they were testing products sold in the USA on animals.

    Avon does have a plant in China but if they sell any product there that was not made there, then it must be tested on an animal.

    anonymous Jun 15, 2015 10:35pm

    Here's one more thing I want to add to clear up any confusion:

    1. Any product that isn't made in China most be tested on animals. (I posted the link that backs that up.) They do not have the "option" to test like you state. Rather, they must.

    2. Furthermore, most companies that test on animals do not have labs that carry out the tests. Rather, they contract those out to various labs. (I know this as I once worked for a toxicology consulting firm.)

    3. Even if a company does not test their products themselves, they enter into an agreement that if they wish to sell a non-Chinese made product, then it must be tested. Even if the Chinese government is the one paying for the test, etc. the product is being tested on animals.

    4. Even though China is a major player reason for this, these companies also do business with other countries that require animal testing.

    5. You didn't claim this, but many people think that the June 2014 lead to China banning animal testing. That isn't true at all. All it did was say that certain cosmetics did not have to be tested on animals. Again, per the links provided, animal testing still occurs there.

    All this can be verified by the links provided.

      anonymous Apr 8, 2016 5:43pm

      Kimberly, are you positive that all of these companies export all of the products that are sold in the Chinese market? Do none of these companies produce products within China at separate facilities? If they do, it may not necessarily exempt them from doing animal testing, but may challenge your logic that US companies' products must be subject to animal testing simply because they are imported.

anonymous Jun 7, 2015 10:17pm

Lest anyone thing this is inaccurate, it is not. confirms these three are testing in countries where it is required by law which includes countries besides China.

And as I said above, just because some countries have gotten rid of the requirement does not necessarily mean they or any other company has stopped. In many cases, companies test on animals even when they do not have to because of the cost.

    anonymous Jun 14, 2015 12:54pm

    kimberly lo, one shouldn't have to PROVE they are NOT doing something. it is your burden to PROVE they are. you cant go around claiming someone guilty of something without giving proof " I just know it "isn't good enough.

      anonymous Jun 15, 2015 12:59pm

      Amy, please read the link and it explains it pretty well:

      "What does "except where required by law" mean?

      Some scientific or regulatory authorities may still conduct or require animal testing by law of cosmetic products or ingredients to demonstrate safety. For example, before we are able to import any of our products into China, the Chinese government requires all importers of cosmetics, including us, to pay for animal testing that is conducted by a government-mandated laboratory in China.

      Can't you choose not to sell your products in these countries?

      As a global company, we are committed to providing our products and services to our consumers where they live, and we must comply with all legal requirements in the countries where we do business.
      It should also be noted that the laws requiring animal testing in countries such as Brazil and China have changed since PETA decided to boot Mary Kay, Avon, and Estée Lauder from its "companies that do not test on animals" list. For instance, in January 2014 Governor Geraldo Alckmin signed a bill that prohibited cosmetics testing on animals in Sao Paulo, Brazil. China has also decided to lift the animal testing requirement on ordinary cosmetics produced and sold in that country.

      Unfortunately, animal testing is still required in several locations around the world. Companies such as Avon, Mary Kay, and Estée Lauder continue to sell their products to these places. It is not wholly accurate to say, however, that these companies have "resumed animal testing."

      So, here's the nuts and bolts: while they are not testing their products THEMSELVES on the animals, they are selling their products in places where the governments are testing those products on animals. And unfortunately, even with China's latest law, there are still countries where the products are sold in places where it is required that the products be animal tested.

      It's really all about the wording. Many cosmetic companies don't test on animals themselves, rather they contract other companies or labs to do that for them.

      Sometimes the devil is in the details.



      anonymous Jun 15, 2015 1:11pm

      BTW: "Foreign imported ordinary cosmetics – still require animal testing"

      So, yes, if they aren't produced there in China they are indeed being tested on animals.

anonymous Jun 7, 2015 9:26pm

Sue: Do you have documentation/citation showing that Avon does not test on animals in its factory in China? Just because there is no legal requirement for animal testing does not mean they don't test. All sorts of testing continues in the US where there is no legal requirement for it.

anonymous Jun 7, 2015 6:08pm

In 2014 China changed it's laws regarding animal testing. It has removed the legal requirement for animal testing on products produced in their country. Avon has a factory and produces in China and is now exempt from the animal testing requirement. Please do more research on this subject before you slander a company — you have now prompted people, with this inaccurate information, to post this article and make angry comments on Avon's Facebook page.

    anonymous Jun 7, 2015 8:32pm

    There should be angry comments on Avon's page. Animal testing is not okay even if the company is exempt from requirements.

    anonymous Jun 7, 2015 10:11pm

    Sue, do you have anything to support that they aren't testing on animals? I didn't write this in my article, but I know for a fact that many companies do test on animals even when they aren't required to because more often than not, animal tests are a lot cheaper. Plus, they don't actually do the tests themselves-they contract labs to do so.

      anonymous Jun 14, 2015 12:51pm

      do you have proof that they do?

        anonymous Jun 15, 2015 1:35pm

        I do indeed have proof:

        "Foreign imported ordinary cosmetics – still require animal testing"

        If these companies are selling any product in China that wasn't made there, then it was tested on an animal because it is required by law.

        EL does not have any plants that manufacture in China.

anonymous Jun 7, 2015 11:54am

start a petition

Eveline Collins Jul 9, 2017 12:27pm


Eveline Collins Jul 9, 2017 12:25pm

Was it an oversight that kept animal testing for imported products, or a strategic plan to eliminate imports due to public outrage over testing practices? Other countries have pharmacopeias to specify the testing requirements for products used in the country. The requirements are consistent for all products to be sold in the country. I want animal testing to be minimised as much as possible. Cosmetics is mostly for superficial purposes but can, by definition, include soaps and sunscreens which are a health care product. There are microbial tests that can be used to test cancinogenic potential. I don't want desperate or unwitting humans to be used as untested guinea pigs either.

Melissa Washington Jun 26, 2017 2:45am

As an animal lover, owner and advocate for animal rights myself, I'd like to share some FACTS: Mary Kay is COMMITED to the ELIMINATION of animal testing AROUND the WORLD! For over 25 years, they have been a global LEADER in HELPING to develop ALTERNATIVE testing methods for product safety. One of the FIRST cosmetic companies to issue a moratorium on animal testing in the U.S., they DO NOT conduct animal testing on their PRODUCTS OR INGREDIENTS, NOR do they ASK OTHERS TO DO SO ON THEIR BEHALF, except when required by law. Regulations on cosmetics constantly change, but Mary Kay has NEVER WAVERED from their COMMITTMENT to use ALTERNATIVE testing methods. When Mary Kay, Inc. learned of requirements by regulatory agencies in China, they were obligated to follow the law, as they do in every country where they operate. BUT, rest assured, their COMMITMENT to the ELIMINATION of animal testing has NEVER changed. Mary Kay has continued it's operations in China to be a VOICE AGAINST animal testing, and they are working very closely with the Chinese government to DEMONSTRATE that ALTERNATIVE TESTING METHODS ENSURE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE PRODUCTS! I pray that everyone with a interest in this issue have clarity and peace.

Fern Blair Hart Jun 25, 2017 12:21am

The ONLY way to make a difference is through boycott...simply stop buying these products but sadly not enough people will care enough to do that.

Fern Blair Hart Jun 25, 2017 12:19am

Mary Kay resumed animal testing in 2012 in order to access the China market...this is the reason I am no longer a Mary Kay sales representative.

Roberta Reynolds Jun 23, 2017 3:04pm

M•A•C does not test on animals and documants this on their website. China requires animal testing and products sent to China, for consumer sales, are tested there by Chinese companies. Just because a company falls under the umbrella company that does test, does not mean that specific manufactuer tests, as well. Thourough research must be done by reliable journalists before making claims.

Rich Fennell Jun 23, 2017 11:47am

I'm confused, if their products are safe here, why do they need to test on animals for sales in China?

Michael O'Leary Jun 22, 2017 7:41pm

It should be mandatory, that everyone that works at those make up companies, should have to test their products on each other, instead of animals, starting with the CEO

Gussie Laguitan Jun 22, 2017 5:14pm

Mary Kay does not Test on animals...false accusations

Heather Tiedeman Jun 22, 2017 2:29pm

That is the most barbaric comment on this entire thread. Why should an innocent animal be forced to suffer? Perhaps they should test on you instead.

Heather Tiedeman Jun 22, 2017 2:14pm

Clinique most definitely tests on animals.

Heather Tiedeman Jun 22, 2017 2:13pm

And that makes it okay?

Cathii LaPierre Jun 22, 2017 12:33am

Lipsense isn't tested on animals! 18 hour waterproof lip color that doesn't smudge! Join my group to buy!

Lisa Wallace Jun 21, 2017 7:32pm

They allow animal testing on their products in other countries. Just because they don't in the US is any excuse. Check your facts AND morals.

Lisa Wallace Jun 21, 2017 7:30pm

They do not test in the US but they do in other countries. Get your facts before commenting and spare us your hysterics.

Lisa Wallace Jun 21, 2017 7:28pm

That does not exclude their culpability.

Lisa Wallace Jun 21, 2017 7:26pm

Wow. That is such bullshit. If in order to sell to China they have to submit their products for testing, then they are just as guilty. Educate them and when they decide not to test on animals, then start selling to them.

Kris Howard Foster Jun 21, 2017 3:06pm

I think you should clarify your comments - Avon does NOT use Animal testing in the USA -

Jeff Keil Jun 21, 2017 8:31am

if i am going to smear something all over my body everyday, they better test it on animals first

Katie Shipley Jun 21, 2017 4:24am

Mary Kay products are made in the Texas USA

Carla Smith Jun 21, 2017 2:32am

Unfortunately any cosmetic/treatment that sells in China HAS to be animal tested. It's the law in China. In America they don't have to & can claim it's not tested on animals here. Just check if it's sold in China. Companies that have never tested on animals before (like Origins, Aveda, Revlon etc...) unfortunately are now because China is such a big market. It's greed pure & simple. I can't use products that cause pain & suffering just for my vanity.

Loran Watkins Jun 20, 2017 7:00pm

The list that the article links to isnt' inclusive enough. Companies like Urban Decay, which is listed as "L" (meaning they've paid the fee to use the bunny logo) and "M" ( they pay an additional fee or percentage of sales to support the company that developed the bunny logo so they look good) aren't vegan. What does that mean? That means that they may sell products that don't require animal testing but they use products that might contain animal ingrediants (haven't checked their list lately). They say they're cruelty free and if you use the app Cruelty Cutter they come up cruelty free but here's the important info - they're OWNED by L'Oreal, who sells in China and who regularly animal tests. So all their profits go to supporting a company that still tests, that's where you have to decide how far you want to go. Tyson foods now owns a small percentage of Beyond Meat, a company that makes plant based meat replacement products. While their product is great this means that part of your consumer dollar now goes to Tyson, who routinely tortures and kills animals for food. If you're vegan or even vegetarian this is a conundrum. I'm not telling you how to purchase but you need all the info to make an informed decision. Urban Decay is like Beyond Meat, figure out how far you want to go and then make your voice heard. (And PeTA sucks, so really really REALLY try not to support them! For a company that claims they respect all life they do an awful lot of killing at their facility in Virginia. When they can't get a hold of enough animals through the public they go steal them in the community. Seriously awful organization.)

Christopher Barton Jun 20, 2017 1:58pm

Aveda does not test on animals. Aveda is not sold in mainland China because of the laws requiring imported cosmetics be tested on animals. The brand has been rewarded the cruelty-free bunny.

Kimi Marcus Jun 20, 2017 12:01pm

The point is... mary kay is allowing the testing by selling in china... mary kay may not be the ones doing the testing but by making priducts available in an area where the testing must be done... what does that really say? If it were me, i would not allow my product in that area because they require animal testing. Mary kay needs to make a stand or shut up! The point is these companies are so greedy for a buck that they will "allow" animal testing...

Susan Mullen Jun 20, 2017 4:02am

Bad to cause harm to any living creature but worse if they don't give permission!