Forgoing animal testing in favor of more effective, cruelty-free alternatives may seem like a no-brainer, but for many beauty brands, the reality is a little more complicated than that. Even if a company maintains an internal stance against the much-maligned practice, there are countries around the world that still require it before cosmetics can be introduced to their market. That quandary presents a moral issue for large-scale international brands that value their business overseas: Do they want to sell in China, which has strict guidelines that make animal testing a hard and fast rule, or do they want to preserve their cruelty-free status and the customers who cherish that?
In a controversial move that’s now made the company the target of criticism over the past few days, NARS chose the former. It’s a disappointing decision for many fans who love the makeup brand — especially considering it’s always boasted its cruelty-free status.
NARS explained the circumstances yesterday, in a statement posted to Instagram. “We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China,” the statement begins. “We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law.”
In no uncertain terms: Moving into the Chinese market, as the brand has set out to do, means abiding by the country’s rules and regulations, which state, point blank, that it is currently required by law for all products from foreign cosmetics companies to be tested on animals. (Although they are beginning to consider other methods.) While NARS says that it actively supports the development of alternative testing methods in China and around the world, many fans were quick to note that an even better strategy would be to refuse to make products available in China altogether until the policies have changed.
At the same time, the more people get outraged and are given a platform to make their voices heard, the more awareness is raised, and the more progress is made against animal testing in the long run. With several countries now having banned the practice over the last few years, and many more acknowledging the massive demand for cruelty-free alternatives and reevaluating their stances as such, changes are being made — but the fight certainly isn't over. For a list of our favorite cruelty-free brands, click here.