I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to comment on the latest news from Urban Decay which indicates their intention to expand operations into China.  Afterall, I’m not a “cruelty-free blogger” (writing only about cruelty-free products) and I’m not entirely sure that it’s my place to come out of the woodwork and comment on issues that I don’t normally involve myself with.  Having said that, it’s something that for whatever reason, I can’t stop thinking about.  I’ve been mulling it over in my head and it’s left a heavy-hearted feeling bumping around in my chest.  When all is said and done (and the Urban Decay press machine have spun a number of well-written statements defending their decision), it’s still (to me) an act of ultimate betrayal for the millions of fans that have been acquired, precisely because of the brand’s staunch stand against animal-testing.

In some ways, it’s due to my non pro-active status on the issue that I’m so surprised by the move.  MAC, Avon, Estee Lauder, Mary Kay and the other brands who have recently taken the decision to enter the Chinese market (therefore accepting the potential animal-testing regulations that surround the move) haven’t encouraged the slightest eyebrow-raise from my corner of the blogosphere, but then again, these aren’t brands that have built and staked their reputations on their responsibilities to providing cruelty-free cosmetics in the same way that Urban Decay have done.

Many of you will know that the EU have already banned the animal-testing of cosmetics within their own laboratories and despite postponements and potential delays, there’s still a significant push to ban the sale and marketing of any products within the EU that contain an ingredient that has been tested using animals by March 2013.  This would be the end result of a massive campaign that has been ongoing for over a decade and something that campaigners such as the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) would be immensely proud of achieving.  Above all else, it shows that there is huge demand in the world for new legislation and an appetite to develop alternative means of testing that cause harm to neither man nor beast.

So just why are these multi-national brands taking such giant steps backward by entering a foreign market which has a record of resistance when it comes to acknowledging or financing efforts into finding alternatives to animal-testing?  Well, there can really only be one reason.  China is a huge market, with the scope for almost immeasurable growth and in these economically uncertain times, it seems that everyone wants a piece of that particular pie.

The justifications released by Urban Decay focus on a rather romanticized notion of infiltrating the nation’s psyche from within through the use of education, and promoting a dialogue on the issue but as one Temptalia reader, BlackFuji succinctly wrote: This is like saying “I don’t punch my kids in the face… the babysitter does. I hope the babysitter learns from my example.”  Urban Decay’s infamous (and trademarked) tagline: “We don’t do animal testing. How could anyone?” ultimately sounds rather hollow under this new direction.

Whilst the brand have been busily reminding their followers on Twitter that they’re listening to feedback following the announcement and that they remain committed to not testing their products on animals, the BUAV have today released a statement confirming that Urban Decay will no longer be certified ‘cruelty free’ under the Humane Cosmetics or Humane Household Products Standards and that the U.S. cosmetic brand will no longer be licensed to carry the internationally-recognised Leaping Bunny trademark on their products.


How do you feel about Urban Decay’s recent announcement?  Do you have faith in their motivations to enact change in this new market?

46 Responses to “Urban Decay “no longer licensed” to carry the BUAV Leaping Bunny trademark”

  1. sophie says:

    You’ve absolutely summed up my feelings on this issue. At first I wasn’t particularly upset about it as, while I do try to buy cruelty-free, I’m not absolutely militant about it.

    However, the more I’ve read UD’s statements and the more I’ve thought about it, the worse I feel about this. I have to say I’d also forgotten that the “how could anyone?” tagline was theirs (for some reason I had linked it to Lush in my mind), and once I was reminded of that, it really made me feel what I can only describe as disgust.

    Much as I adore their Naked palettes, I can’t see myself buying from them again. Once I hit pan, I’ll have to find a new alternative.

    • kmk05 says:

      Exactly what you said!

    • kmk05 says:

      You summed up my exact feelings on this!

    • Emily says:

      couldn’t have put it better myself, they’ve truly shot themselves in the foot.

    • Luna says:

      I totally agree. I have some UD products and I don’t want to use them. It is the “we don’t do animal testing” statement that is particular sickening. I will not ever buy UD again. One small brand is nothing in the vast world of cosmetic brands. Hope they sink into oblivion. I’ve emailed them through their site under “Contact Us” at the bottom of the page.

    • sparkle says:

      I’ve just had to find a whole load of new products. It took weeks of research and along the way I found some wonderful brands and it turns out there was no need to worry about replacements. The replacements are so much better. I would urge everyone to look at OCC (Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics). Not only are their products fantastic but they are vegan too. Top of the range, cutting edge products. I just got the foundation and its brilliant and I can’t wait to try their lip tars and nail colors. It’s shocking what Urban Decay did and their U-turn cuts no ice with me as it shows they worried about losing lots of customers = $. Not ethical imo, and I won’t be using their products anymore.

  2. NeenaJ says:

    Yes! What you said!

  3. Hafsa says:

    I’m incredibly disappointed. I’m not someone who goes out of their way to not use cruelty free products but, I’m on my way and I thought that Urban Decay would be one of those brands that I could still rely on but now there’s no chance.

    Applying this in terms of their branding, it’s a huge slap to their face and they’re the ones doing it! Why build a brand as a company that staunchly opposes animal cruelty to then do it later down the line for the sake of profit? Silly.

  4. Mai says:

    The more I reread their initial press release and their responses to the questions posed by Urban Decay fans, the more I’m convinced that this is a ill thought out move that is only going to seek to inflame Urban Decay fans and cost them more money. If they don’t expect to make a profit in China anytime soon, and they know that their product doesn’t necessarily appeal to the current market, then what’s their goal? It is so presumptuous that they will enact change by their entrance to the market when human rights advocates, NGO groups, and others have yet to achieve it. Their answers to the questions posed were just a rewrite to their press release and disappointingly vague.

    • sparkle says:

      Agree and would add that all the cosmetic companies choosing to sell in China are saying the same thing, that they will enact change! Seems they all share the same PR! The fact that Urban Decay have now done a U turn does nothing for their credibility either. They realised their huge mistake and did the maths and figured it was best to try and keep their existing customers. But why would any ethical person want to be loyal to such a hypercritical company, that would base its reputation on abhoring animal testing and then decide to sell to China and allow animal testing to be carried out. It’s like a husband who says he thinks he will be unfaithful, who upon realising the wrath he has incurred (and more importantly the financial consequences of divorce) decides he wants to be faithful after all. And would the wife ever trust him again? Will I purchase Urban Decay products again? No way!

  5. Completely agree. I don’t make it a focus to purchase cruelty-free products, but I know that it’s an important issue for many people, and I think they have every right to feel betrayed by UD for turning their values on a dime. I also feel that it’s appropriate for UD to be stripped of their cruelty-free credentials.

    Their statement attempted to paint the company as crusaders for animal rights and women’s rights (why are women lumped in with the animals again?), but it comes across as incredibly condescending.

    As many have said on Twitter and elsewhere, if they wanted to expand into an Asian market, they should have gone for Japan or Singapore.

  6. Bicky says:

    Raging honestly. As a CF blogger who touted UD to have the best liners and shadows I am pissed.


    I’m sorry but you wouldn’t see Lush do that. I look forward to their makeup line now.

  7. Julianne says:

    I do try to buy cruelty-free though sometimes I slip up, and one of the reasons I liked UD was that they were CF, as well as fantastic products.

    But what appalls me the most is the fact that they actually think that their statements will be in any way convincing!

  8. Siobhan says:

    I agree with your article – i was also not particularly surprised when reading about other companies doing similar but i’m surprised about UD’s attitude to it! How are they planning to be committed to not testing their products on animals when they are selling in a country where it is compulsory?!

    I’m not cruelty free for the reason that there are just too many loopholes – for example companies owning smaller “cruelty free” companies but also small pharma companies that will test anything they require and now this whole expanding to China thing! Until they bring in a law such as the one you mentioned (no selling of products containing ingredients animal tested since 2013) i don’t think anyone can be sure and even then i’m not sure i’ll trust anything 100%


  9. Tamara says:

    First MAC, now UD. Two of my favourite brands :(

  10. Charlotte says:

    While I’m glad they at least gave a statement, unlike MAC who kept it all very hush hush in the hopes no one would realise, I find their reasoning to be very patronising. They’re a business. They wouldn’t go to China if they weren’t going to make money out of it. How could they not with a population that size?
    And what has me really bitter about this is that they would rather go to China against their outspoken beliefs, than come to Australia where none of those values would be compromised. If they would move into a country of 1.5 billion and accept animal testing before coming to one of 22 million that wouldn’t alter their policy, it is absolutely about money.
    Luckily I only own a few of their products and other than the liners, none of them are that great anyway.

    • Bridget says:

      I 100% agree with you, I kinda got ripped into on Temptalia for the same view point, all I was trying to get across was why go to China and have your core values compromised unless you had entered every other market and exhausted your options, kinda like what mac has done altho mac didn’t build their brand around being anti animal testing so their entrance into the Chinese market doesn’t bother me, ya know what saying?

  11. Manny says:

    First of all, excuse my English, it’s not that terrible. Animal testing is not cool, but so are people’s bias. Suddenly, people are blaming China for UD’s decision to begin animal testing. Could people not inject political thoughts into this matter which I think UD should be solely blamed for. it’s better not trying to find scapegoat for your own frustration at UD not keeping their animal right practices. UD didn’t keep their promises. Companies are like that….. if consumers are falling for glamorous yet airbrushed ads, they might have to embrace themselves for something like this. Sad but true on both accounts.

    • Hi Manny!

      To be fair, the issue is entwined with the current politics regarding animal-testing in China. Subsequently, it’s hard to disentangle the two, though I would always hope that people aren’t using it as an excuse to exercise racial stereotypes. I feel that I’ve made it clear enough in the post above that my frustrations are most definitely directed toward Urban Decay as a company, not for putting money before their ethics… but for putting money before their fans and supporters.

  12. Olivia says:

    I am not a cruelty-free advocate but I understand those who are and respect them. Urban Decay for them was the line to count on and it seems that their latest movement kinda looks like they care more about the $$ than their actual customers.

    Is it surprising? No not really since profit is what the true motivation of any company is. Yet, when many customers trusted UD for its stance against animal cruelty, this is like a slap in the face which creates the question who will be next?

  13. Tammy says:

    That is disappointing. Urban Decay is one of my all time favorite brands. As an animal lover I usually try to buy cruelty-free. But again I slip up from time to time and really shouldn’t point fingers at them.

  14. Sophie says:

    Yep, everything you said.=! I totally agree with it all. It all feels lke they’re going back on the millions of fans they already have.

  15. Emma says:

    Lovely well-written post, as always. At first, I was taken in by Urban Decay’s statement defending the move, however the more and more I thought about it, the more I realised that (I believe) it was just a load of excuses to defend a profitable move. The mere fact that they are willing to let their products be tested at all upon animals, even for a good cause, blindly contradicts every single policy they have ever had on the matter. For that reason I will not be buying from them again. They can spin as much yarn as they want about how it’s better to fight from the inside than from outside (which, to some extent, I do agree with) but the ethics of the situation makes it wrong, in my eyes. In part because, once they are selling in China, and have obviously tested on animals, how can they then say that it is wrong when they have tested themselves? Nope. Just not working in my eyes.

  16. sharnek says:

    I’m disappointed in UD and my opinion of the brand has changed greatly. Yes, they released a statement, other big brands haven’t and I’m equally disappointed in them too. For me it seems as though it is all about the £ or Yuan rather than Urban Decays original ethos and it stinks.

  17. Sarah says:

    I was planning on buying their custom palette and now ..dont think so. Its one of the many companies that have made this switch. Estee Lauder is a parent company to so many brands. I think even Clinique is owned by them and I love their products. Now I have to find good dupes for these :(

  18. Lilmiznutcase says:

    I don’t really have any stong feelings about UD, as they are not a brand I feel particularly loyal to (in truth, any brand loyalty I feel is always based on the strength of products, rather than any ethos or mission statement which can easily be withdrawn at any time). I do feel that cosmetics should not be tested on animals, and always try to buy cruelty free wherever possible.

    What confuses me is this: Most ingredients currently used in cosmetics have been used for years and have already been tested on animals. New ingredients, such as those found in spot treatments for example, may have originally been tested for medical, rather than cosmetic use. So how is the EU planning on going about banning any product which contains ingredients which have been tested on animals?

    • Monika says:

      Your confusion is also my confusion. The only logical thing I can thing of is that when you create a finished product like eyeshadow or lipstick, you (the cruelty-free brand) do not test that product on animals and use some sort of alternative to deem it safe for human use. I agree that that should be an encouraged practice in the world of cosmetics manufacturing, but as you said, animal testing was done a long time ago on many commonly used ingredients (dimethicone, talc, mica, etc. etc.) Even natural things got tested at some point. How can you avoid that? What can you even make when you eliminate these things?

      I don’t think it’s necessary to re-test things on animals that are already considered safe, especially due to its ingredient list. But banning everything seems impossible depending on how strict the definition is.

  19. It just came across like their ethics don’t really matter anymore and they’rew rather take the money. I can’t believe how much they’ve gone back on what they believed in that’s what bothers me. They’re statement boiled my blood. x

  20. Sarah s says:

    Cracking post Charlotte – all i have to say is ‘Urban Decay, don’t bite the hand that feeds you – aka your most loyal customers!

  21. Amy says:

    I’m not a person who tries to only buy cruelty free products, but I felt quite uneasy about the statement. While I do agree that making a statement about it is the right thing to do, it seems so at odds with their whole brand ethos. They’ve make their cruelty free stance a big part of their marketing campaign and they’re going back on it suddenly. And what’s worse is they’re claiming they won’t make any money out of it! So they’re perfectly happy to go back on 16 years of a policy for no money? That’s the bit that really baffles me, and makes me feel they’re lying. Because why would they do it if not for the money?

    But on the other hand, maybe they’re right. Maybe they can raise awareness of the issue in China, and maybe they can bring about change. Who knows? I certainly hope so.


  22. Louise says:

    I’m very dissapointed in UD. Though I like that they at least provided a statement, the statement seems to me, after reading it twice, to be full of contradictions. Like Emma said: How can they bring change from within by promoting cruelty free products when their products won’t be cruelty free anymore?
    There arse so many countries where UD isn’t available yet, Belgium (my country, yes small, but still a possible market), Japan, Australia, New Zealand, … So why China? The only answer is: money. Though it is to be expected of a company like UD that they want to make a profit, I don’t get why they must do it by selling out and giving up the foundations and ethics of their brand.

  23. Shannon says:

    I am so disappointed. I was going to spend my birthday money on both Naked palettes. I was looking forward to the splurge. I WILL NOT be doing that now. I have to be honest, I hope they take a huge profit loss for this absurd move.

    Cannot say how disappointed and disgusted I am about this. It does feel like a punch in the gut.

  24. Jade says:

    I try and buy cruelty free wherever I can- if I find out something I’ve bought was tested on animals I use it up and don’t buy it again (although I know people who throw away anything they find to be tested on animals I can’t afford to do this and it seems daft to me, after all I’d be the only one that loses as I’ve already given them my money). I was so attracted to UD because I knew they were cruelty free and a lot of people I know are for the same reason, both staunch vegans and people who are slightly looser on the CF front.
    I was disappointed when MAC did it, but i’m outraged that UD have. My disappointment with MAC rather than anger was because MAC didn’t build much of their company and reputation on being against animal testing- so I just decided to spend my money elsewhere. UD have pissed me off big time because of the U-turn they’ve done.
    I won’t be buying UD anymore and my exchange with the brand over twitter was somewhat farcical. “Our hope is that they will see it and that we can help publicize to all consumers how important this issue is.”

  25. mary says:

    I knew this would happen. As soon as EU legislation inconveniences the balance sheet…companies like these relocate to where they can pursue cheaper practices, largely with a devastating human, animal and environmental cost.

    The hypocrisy from the PR machine is typical. It reminds me of Superdrug playing with double standards. (While their environmental policy reads with a series of ethical promises and they shout loud about their own brand being cruelty free….what the hell is the point of that if they are using their profits to pursue the sunrise project, a Tar sands extraction venture in Canada along with BP. For the profit of 3 million barrels of oil, they will devastate the local environment).

    It’s like slaughtering dolphins for their fuel….for a short term profit for a few people, we suffer losses far greater to an already fragile ecosystem.

    Well Urban Decay have taken a big step backwards. I am so glad they won’t get to keep the leeping bunny logo, people will notice that at least and I for one won’t be purchasing from them.

    Thanks Charlotte for blogging about this, it’s good to share !

  26. mary says:

    ….Just wanted to add, for anyone struggling with their resolve not to buy from brands that test on animals, the documentary film ‘Earthlings’ by Shaun Monson will make the reality very clear. It is a hard hitting documentary, but the producers do implore us, that if animals bear such with their bodies, we should try to bear witness to the truth in order to make constructive change.

    The film does wonders for your figure too…I became Vegan as a result of watching it 2 years ago and I no longer struggle with my weight :-)

  27. Andy says:

    While I have never purchased UD (not available in the country) and I don’t follow animal cruelty advocacies, the reason why people is pissed is because UD supposedly announced their support against animal testing and suddenly shift to animal testing for the sake of profits. Talk about paradoxical. >_<

  28. […] Urban Decay has announced expansion into China, amidst questions that are described here at Lipglossiping. […]

  29. Seonaid says:

    While I’m not a CF blogger, I totally agree that with UD’s pointed anti animal testing stance, such a massive U-turn is hypocritical at best. Why build a brand image up in such a way if you are not going to stand by it?
    However, another thing that annoyed me about the press release they issued was the overall attitude of blame shifted to the population of China. While of course there are cultural difference, I found it bizarre that UD would adopt a position akin to ‘the white man’s burden’ saying it was up to them to ‘educate’ the people of China. I’m sure that awareness could do with being raised, but I thought they put this across in such a poor way and made it seem as if they thought they were doing the people of China a favour, which is incredibly arrogant.

  30. […] dirt in the face of Urban Decay’s recent announcement that the brand are now allowing their (previously certified cruelty-free) products to be tested on […]

  31. […] cosmetic testing.  Now after having read some of  the details from Charlotte’s blog, lipglossiping.com, it sparked an internal conflict in me.  Urban Decay just publicly announced to everyone they could […]

  32. mary says:

    What I’d like to know is WHY Stella McCartney perfume is owned by L’oreal. As an animal rights activist, why would she give her name to L’oreal. Very disappointed to see this. It seems money is God and nothing comes above making a tidy profit.

    The Estee Lauder list now unable to call themselves cruelty free is ovewhelming; Estee Lauder +
    Lab Series Skincare for Men’Origins
    Tommy Hilfiger
    La Mer
    Bobbi Brown
    Donna Karan
    Jo Malone
    Bumble ans Bumble
    Michael Kors
    American Beauty
    Goodskin Labs
    Grassroots Research Labs
    Sean John
    Tom Ford
    Emenegildo Zegna

  33. mary says:

    Very pleased to hear Urban Decay have reversed the decision to sell in China. They received too many complaints from loyal customers who felt betrayed that the company were going back on one of their core principles :-))


  34. Glitterishallsorts says:

    I try to buy cruelty free products and felt really uncomfortable when UD announced the news. Like many people who try to buy only cruelty free, I felt they were a brand you could rely on as their attitude had always been very clear. However this whole debacle has made me realise that businesses are after all, businesses, and if they think they can get away with being unethical while increasing profits, they will.

    Their u turn is some comfort I suppose but I think I’ll always feel the need to keep checking up on their cruelty free credentials now. As long as brands are open and I can make my own decisions then I won’t complain too much. But when sneaky shit happens it really irritates me!

  35. Mary says:

    I see UD has changed it’s mind about going to China. It says it is not going to China because of China’s animal testing. Well, they were going to China regardless of China’s animal testing. What lies ! They only did a u-turn becasue of massive pressure from around the world. Total idiots. I will never buy UD products. Too late.

  36. […] to be done on its products in China, has only aggravated the situation. As one reader commented on Lipglossiping’s blog post: “If they don’t expect to make a profit in China anytime soon, and they know that their product […]

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