There’s some troubling news for those of us who go out of our way to purchase personal care products and cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals. A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against Estee Lauder, Avon and Mary Kay alleging that the companies are falsely claiming their products are “cruelty free.”
What’s happened is this: these companies are required to test their products on animals in order to sell them in China and other foreign markets, but they’ve continued to use cruelty free labeling on the US versions of those same products. They’ve taken advantage of this label for two decades, even having their products promoted by animals rights groups like PETA.
The five women leading the class action suit state that this misleading representation has given the companies a commercial boost among consumers who are concerned about animal welfare, and that by failing to adequately disclose the fact that testing was being done for the Chinese market, they’ve taken advantage of their customer base and reaped hundreds of millions in sales.
Avon and Mary Kay have both released statements insisting that they remain committed to animal welfare, “except where required by local law.” That may be, but it doesn’t excuse failing to disclose that these are still companies participating in animals testing in some parts of the globe. Just because a company is “deeply committed to the elimination of animal testing” doesn’t mean that they can claim to be cruelty-free while still participating in those tests.
PETA, naturally, has expressed that they are “extremely upset” over the revelations, and has removed the three companies from its list of cruelty free cosmetics. Este Lauder was the only company which did not respond to a request for comment.
Photo credit: Richard Schatzberger