Consumers misled on animal testing

While major cosmetic companies are purporting to be ‘cruelty-free’, a CHOICE investigation has found their websites, packaging and sales staff are failing to inform Australian customers that their beauty products are tested on animals in China.

For cosmetic products to be sold in China, skin and eye irritation tests must be conducted on animals. In order to break into the booming Chinese cosmetic markets, many companies have gone back on their anti-animal testing policies without informing consumers.

“Cosmetic brands need to be upfront about their animal testing whether it be on their websites, packaging or via employees at cosmetic counters. They are bound by law to give consumers the correct information and we have found many of them are not. CHOICE will be referring this issue to the ACCC,” says CHOICE researcher Zoya Sheftalovich.

CHOICE conducted a ‘shadow shop’ at David Jones and Myer in Sydney and found staff at the counters of major cosmetic brands were ignorant about whether their companies were testing on animals and current Chinese legislation regarding the testing of cosmetics. Staff selling SK II, Lancome, Dior and M.A.C all claimed their products weren’t tested on animals when they are, while those selling Clarins said that animal testing was illegal around the world.

We also examined the websites of 55 cosmetics brands, from specialty products to supermarket cheapies, and found 40 percent were making claims either on their own websites or on those of their parent companies about their products not being tested on animals, but only a minority were certified by an independent third party.

CHOICE also purchased 32 products with logos and claims about animal testing, which ranged from ‘never-tested on animals’ and ‘cruelty-vegan free’’ to ‘against animal testing’. Nine of the products carried logos – mainly of rabbits – which give off the appearance of official certification by a third party. Unfortunately, only four of them were genuinely certified while the other five were simply nice drawings.

“Companies should be telling consumers the truth on their labels and on their websites, and properly training their sales staff. Australian consumers who oppose animal testing of cosmetics should be able to make informed decisions about which products to purchase, and this ability is being compromised across the board,” says Ms Sheftalovich.

Major companies whose products are tested on animals according to PETA include: Almay, Aveeno, Avon, Biotherm, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Chanel, Carefree, Chapstick, Clairol, Clean and Clear, Clinique, Clearasil, Dove, Donna Karan, Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Garnier, Giorgio Armani, Head & Shoulders, Helena Rubinstein, Herbal Essences, Jurlique, Kerastase, Kiehl’s, La Mer, L’Oreal, L’Occitane, Lancome, M.A.C, Mary Kay, Max Factor, Maybelline, Michael Kors, Missoni, Mitchum Deodorant, Nair, Neutrogena, Olay, Old Spice, Pantene, Ponds, Redken, Revlon, Shiseido, Shu Uemura, SK-II, Sunsilk, Unilever, Vichy, Veet and Vidal Sasson.

Major companies that are certified and do not test on animals according to PETA include: Aesop, Akin, Alchemy, Argan Life, Australian Pure, Australis, Aussie Mineral Make Up, Aveda, Bare Essentials, The Body Shop, Catwalk, The Cruelty Free Shop, Dermologica, Face of Australia, Gaia Skin Naturals, Inoxa, Jason, Tri-Shave, Lush, Natio, Nature’s Organics, New Directions, Paul Mitchell, Smashbox, Stila Cosmetics, Sukin Organics, Trilogy and Zara.
These lists are not comprehensive – for further details check PETA, the Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free. This information was correct as of May 2013.

CHOICE release on animal testing