When it comes to your makeup bag, how good are your morals?


This week I found out that NARS are about to starting stocking their products in China, which means that, in accordance with Chinese regulation, they will need to start testing their products on animals, something that I am vehemently opposed to.

They are not the first brand to do this, it’s no secret that brands such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder have been doing it for donkeys years. Although these brands claim to be against animal testing full stop, in order to be stocked in China, they are required to submit to compulsory animal testing in government labs before regulators approve products to be sold. We are then invited to read between the lines when the statements on various websites read that the company “does not test on animals and we would never ask others to do son our our behalf. If a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment, an exception can be made.”

The first time my morals were called into question regarding my makeup bag was when I found out that MAC, despite them claiming to be “working toward a cruelty free world” on their website, is a brand that stocks in China and therefore has their products tested on animals by the regulatory body. Despite loving the brand (and not just since my first grownup makeup came from there), I have tried to studiously ignore makeup reviews featuring their beautiful products and even passed up on buying and trying Fleur De Force’s collaboration lipstick that I wanted so badly, putting my morals ahead of my makeup bag for the first time.

Since then I have kept one eye on the labels, to check that I wasn’t accidentally endorsing a company that was putting an animal through hell and the other eye, I’m ashamed to say, on reviews and palettes, creams, colours that I want to badly.

The brands that I use ARE cruelty free, in that they don’t test on animals at all, but the confusion arises when you consider the fact that many of these brands are owned by companies that do. Take Urban Decay for example, and The Body Shop who are owned by L’Oreal, Too Faced are owned by Estee Lauder and then of course NARS, previously cruelty free but owned by parent organisation Shiseido, who are not.

To explain: the parent brands, whist perhaps not directly testing on animals themselves, are stocked somewhere that requires them to do so. Can we hold our favourite brands to account because of what their parents do and boycott them? I don’t think so, not least of all because I would hate to be held accountable for everything that my parents had ever done, as it is of course totally out of my control.

But it gets more complicated still with the announcement this week from NARS. This is where my morals are put to the test, because I ADORE this brand. Their foundation and concealer are two of my every day obsessions and I’ve always loved and owned their bronzer and blush. But do I love them enough to turn a blind eye to the fact that they are now knowingly having their products tested on animals? No, in short, I don’t.

But it’s an interesting question nonetheless.

The good news is that the use of animals to test cosmetic products or their ingredients is banned in the UK and all EU countries as of March 2013. Unfortunately, there is no ban on it in the US, so companies can if they want to and then of course in China it is a legal requirement.

Suffice to say, research needs to be done and depending on how strongly you feel about the matter, a judgement call needs to be made. Personally for me, the fact that NARS have sold out, after years of priding themselves on being ‘cruelty free’ is enough to make me say goodbye to the brand following this decision. I’ll finish with the products that I already own, and bought from a company who was against animal testing, and then begin the hunt for a CF brand that is yet to sell out.

But is that as far as it goes?

My morals have been called into question AGAIN this week, following an explosive scandal surrounding Jeffree Star, the creator of a highlight that I adore and liquid lipsticks that my sister wears every single day. The products are totally vegan and cruelty free, but what do you do, when you find that the face of the brand is actually a bully and a racist? The drama is actually too much and too complicated to explain, but to put it shortly: he has attracted more than his fair share of bad press. Past videos of him have emerged being racist and sexist, he is famed for his temper and recently described another YouTuber as a ‘rat’ on Twitter. He has this week posted a video on his channel titled ‘racism’ and in it he apologises for the comments he has made in the past.

And whilst this might be enough for some people, for me, I’m afraid it was too little too late, and much like with NARS I will finish with the products that I have and will not be buying from him again.

I think the thing for me, the bottom line, is as follows: there is not, to my mind, any product good enough to get me turning against what I believe in. A good foundation is, at the end of the day, a sacrifice that I am more than happy to make if it means I am not supporting a brand, or an individual, who I do not believe to be good.

Whilst I understand that brands such as NARS find it nearly impossible to turn away the billion dollars market that China opens up the them, I personally cannot support a brand that has put money before ethics and have gone back on the promise that made them so popular in the first place.

Ultimately the fault here lies with China and their government for requiring this, but until it can be accepted world wide that no animal should be subjected to testing, I believe that it is the responsibility of a brand to do the right thing. As for Jeffree Star? I simply cannot support a racist, apology or no apology.

I’d be interested to hear your views on this if you have any…



  1. Steph
    June 27, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    I agree with you whole heartedly . . . in this day & age I simply do not understand why with all our modern gadgets and knowledge & capabilities the testing of products on animals still occur?. . . in my humble opinion there is no justification for it and I try very hard to keep all products I buy cruelty free.

  2. Amber
    June 27, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    Love, love, love this post! You have described exactly how I feel. There is no need to be testing on animals. Ever. I also agree that company executives need to be held accountable for their behaviour. It can be exhausting and frustrating researching products and finding out the ones you love do not hold up your standards. However, I refuse to support someone who is a racist, or a bully, or who tortures animals. Thank you so much for this post!

  3. June 27, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    Great post. I have the same problem with MAC. I covet many of their products but refuse to buy because of their animal testing practises.

    I am also a little heartbroken about Jeffree Star. His liquid lip has to be one of my favourite products BUT I will not support someone who belittles others in any form.

    Thanks for posting this and thanks for the heads-up.

  4. Crissy
    June 28, 2017 / 3:51 am

    Great post and excellent questions! As much as l live Nike I cannot purchase their products knowing they employ Michael Vick.

  5. July 4, 2017 / 12:52 am

    Great things to consider. As an avid consumer of makeup, I don’t think to look into the history behind the products I’m buying, especially the high-end prestige brands. Now, I’ll consider CF brands when shopping for replacements.

    Also, thanks for the podcast! You’ve been discussing a lot of things that have been on my mind lately. I’d love to have a longer podcast, but I’m sure you’re busy!

  6. August 19, 2017 / 7:29 am

    This is exactly how I feel! There are no products that are good enough to make me go against my ideals. Even though I love tryign out different makeup products, I always check before purchasing them. I wouldn’t want harmless animals to be hurt just for me to look pretty.

  7. September 20, 2017 / 5:58 am

    Shocked to know that beauty product are tested with animals before introducing them to the market. Say no to those beauty products and protect animals. I am a member of the blue cross and we strictly take action for any harm done to animals. Thanks for enlightening me on this issue.

  8. Natasza
    September 28, 2017 / 11:43 am

    Loved your article, great starting point for a discussion. Let me start by saying I am fully aware that I’m a hypocrite. I’m not proud of it but I know I am one and my morale is incoherent in many spheres. I have 3 cats at home and boy do I love them – I take the best care of them as I can, I feed them, pet them and respect their privacy and nature. I’m a total crazy cat lady and it breaks my heart when they’re ill or afraid. But I don’t really think about chickens and piggies I’m consuming on a daily basis. I’m fully aware it’s a flaw and makes no sense but that’s what I am. It’s similar with makeup – I pretend to be blind to companies testing on animals and it is this much easier knowing, that the exact products I’m using are cruelty free due to an EU regulation you mentioned. I’m not thinking further, that this same company may have products tested on animals elsewhere. I guess I project the blame to countries who allow (or even endorse) it. At the same time I still can get picky about makeup based on my beliefs (hello, hypocrisy again). For instance, I don’t buy make up products made in China. Again, if we care about animal suffering, why don’t we care about people suffering, working 18 hour shifts and being minimally paid, striving to provide for their families? On top of that, I avoid makeup companies who use people that I can’t stand to promote their products (such as jaclyn hill or already mentioned jeffree star). I don’t buy any kylie/kim kardashian products, no matter how coveted these products are, simply becasue I can’t stand the thought of putting more money into these people’s pockets. So yes, hypocrisy gallore. Of course, buying cruelty-free makeup is a step in the right direction. But then, aren’t you indirectly endorsing the animal testing parent company? And if you care about your makeup cruelty free, are you a vegetarian? It is all so subtle and messed up. Also, bonus point – even cruelty free make up brands use the red colorant that is basically made of dead bugs. So, let’s protect fluffy bunnies and cute mice but don’t give a fuck about these nasty, little bugs? They’re animals too, you know. Guess I’m not the only hypocryte out there after all…

  9. January 12, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    I agree, and it’s not an easy fight. I, like you, adored MAC, but walked away as soon as I realized they were allowing animal testing. We live in an age where that is not only unnecessary, but beneath us. I kept my old Cyndi Lauper lipstick because I already had it and it’s her, but that’s it. A couple weeks ago I realized I couldn’t even finish what I had and filled a bag with MAC, NARS, makeup forever, etc., which I will donate to people that need makeup. The things I am left with are Urban Decay, Kat Von D, Too Faced, a bit of Smashbox and Bare Minerals, and Sephora’s own brand. And as for parent companies, if we judged them for that, I agree, it would get too big. Happily, companies like Lush are pushing for alternate and more accurate ways of testing and urging other companies to adopt these new and improved practices. But until that time comes, it’s a land mine. And in this day and age, I also find it important to stand up for principle, so I applaud your decision to boycott the racist jerk. It’s more important than ever that we stand up and loudly pronounce that that type of behavior will no longer be tolerated in this society and these people will find themselves out on the street on their ass.

  10. Helen
    January 22, 2018 / 3:13 pm

    I completely agree and I THOUGHT that because i bought Urban Decay that they were an animal free testing product I never knew about the parent company 🙁 Time to look for another brand again but that isnt always so easy

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