Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Urban Decay reached out to me yesterday, shortly after I published the press release, and said that they were happy to take any questions I might have. On behalf of readers, I took the opportunity to ask several, and I also included a couple asked by Twitter followers. I’m still waiting on the answer to another question (and they’re working on it), but here are their answers to the questions I had and a reader question:

What has Urban Decay done in the past to proactively change the way animal testing is done or perceived in the US? Have measures been taken beyond being a cruelty-free brand? Does UD fund alternative testing research?

Urban Decay has been a cruelty-free band since our inception in 1996 and was one of the first few brands to adopt the Leaping Bunny Logo. We created our “How Could Anyone” campaign to raise awareness about animal testing in cosmetics. Bracelets with our “vegan paw-print” and “How Could Anyone” statement were sold at all retailers to benefit the Humane Society of the United States. We do not work with any manufacturers that conduct animal testing. We work regularly with organizations such as PETA and the HSUS to raise awareness and funds for alternative research.

We have turned down several opportunities to participate in high profile fashion shows and designer collaborations that use or promote fur. Despite that fact that many cruelty-free brands sell brushes made with animal hair, we only manufacture our brushes with synthetic fibers. We do not make donations to organizations that conduct or condone animal testing. We are the first brand ever to create a vegan shopping section on our website to cater to our vegan fans. We have made, and continue to make, monetary donations to further research into alternative testing.

How does Urban Decay intend to change the mind of Chinese government regarding animal testing and women’s rights?

We will continue to seek out alternative methods for testing and creating a demand for them in the industry, as well as influence the community to request this of their government. By creating new jobs for women and putting them into positions of importance, we hope to influence the community and our consumers via education and brand messaging.

How does injecting money into a country that has historically been difficult to persuade put either Urban Decay in a position of power or China in a position to listen? When major business and brands, both within and outside the cosmetic industry, can’t create impactful change in the country, how does Urban Decay intend to do so?

We are working with cruelty-free organizations on the ground in China to focus our efforts and make sure we are making the most impact. We consulted with the Feminist Majority Foundation and learned from them that giving Chinese women professional opportunities is an important step in creating cultural change. As we gain an understanding of the market, we plan to develop creative solutions to drive awareness about these issues.

With Urban Decay’s home country still requiring and allowing animal testing, why is the push into China so vital – particularly when UD has stated that they don’t even plan to make money for quite a while and the market isn’t quite ready for the brand? Did UD consider participating in the dialogue as a potential market entrant, thereby still holding onto all of the potential dollars and business to bring into the country?

While me may not be out of the woods yet as far as eradicating animal testing in the US, there are approved alternative methods approved and available for use here. We are implementing additional efforts in China where immediate change is necessary to provide alternatives in order to continue our fight to end animal testing.

How is UD planning on enacting the changes? Will the brand hire experts in Chinese culture to make an education plan? (Asked by Phyrra)

UD is working on developing a team based in China who will drive our education program and media outreach. They will train and educate our employees who will then pass our message on to the consumer, thereby raising awareness of the issue. We also plan to support via marketing and social media as we have successfully done here in the US.

Comments are now closed. Readers are disrespecting each other and their beliefs. 

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

266 thoughts on “Q&A with Urban Decay – A Follow-Up on Animal Testing and Entry into China

  1. xamyx

    A thought just occured to me: Should we also be boycotting Sephora? After all, they are (1) the primary retail outlet for Urban Decay, and (2) the fact they have a store in China means the brands they are carrying are being tested on animals; does that mean Sephora supports/advocates animal testing? We can also take it a step further, and boycott *every* brand sold at Sephora. After all, if they pulled out of Sephora stores, Sephora would be out of business. While we’re at it, we can also boycott JCPenney, and every mall that has a JCP inside. Again, where do we draw the line?

    • watchthesky

       @xamyx i don’t think anyone would go to those extremes because of one brand. though sephora’s own and exclusive brand are likely being tested on animals in order to be sold in china so i would boycott those. sephora as a store is not the problem.

      • xamyx

        @watchthesky Sephora is a brand, both the store and the cosmetics, and therefore, owned by the same entity. So, by supporting the store, you are supporting the brand as a whole, whether you buy the branded cosmetics, or not. All the proceeds go into the same bank account at the end of the day, regardless if you buy Sephora brand or Tarte, so the store is just as (if not more) responsible for perpetuating animal testing in China, if in fact that is actually going on. I’ve done a few searches and came across an article stating that the Chinese have been maintaining a database of what ingredients & formulas have *already* been deemed “safe” as a way to curtail additional testing of things already tested.

        • watchthesky

           @xamyx  @watchthesky you’re being a bit extreme about it though. if i applied the same logic to other areas, ie food, i would have LITERALLY nowhere to buy food from. every sore carries meat or dairy or other animal prodcuts to some capacity. i can still stand by my values and only buy vegan food items. i imagine every clothing store carries leather, or wool, but i can still buy cotton from these stores and stand by my values. sephora is the only place i can find these cosmetics, so that’s where i will go. sephora obviously gets some kind of pay from these companies in order to carry and market their products, but buying other products from sephora is not the same as buying sephora brand. don’t treat it like it is and don’t expect everyone else too either.

        • watchthesky

           @xamyx  @watchthesky you’re being a bit extreme about it though. if i applied the same logic to other areas, ie food, i would have LITERALLY nowhere to buy food from. every store carries meat or dairy or other animal products to some capacity. i can still stand by my values and only buy vegan food items. i imagine every clothing store carries leather, or wool, but i can still buy cotton from these stores and stand by my values. sephora is the only place i can find these cosmetics, so that’s where i will go. sephora obviously gets some kind of pay from these companies in order to carry and market their products, but buying other products from sephora is not the same as buying sephora brand. don’t treat it like it is and don’t expect everyone else too either.

        • xamyx

          @watchthesky First of all, veganism in itself is extreme, so I don’t see how my views are any more extreme than yours. Second, to say Sephora is the *only* retailer where you can purchase your cosmetics is also extreme. There are many stores & websites that offer the same brands. The same goes for clothing, although I will concede in the area of food (though for alot of people, vegan grocery stores do exist). If, for the sake of convenience you’re willing to blur the line, that’s fine. Just know that in doing so you’re supporting companies that go against your values rather than those who share them. It really is that simple.

        •  @xamyx  @watchthesky
           xamyx is apparently of the “all or nothing” school of thinking.  It isn’t really “that simple,” and it isn’t hypocritical to try to limit suffering by boycotting known guilty companies where you can.  You can’t be a *perfect* vegan today and coexist in society with people who eat meat. Anyone who calls themself a vegan is prevented from being a perfect vegan by simply living in society, but the majority of us vegans are NOT striving for perfection.  We are all just doing our best to limit suffering. To say “because we can’t be perfect, why try at all?” is just stupid!  I don’t know any vegans who are *that* extreme.

        • xamyx

          @Sarah S Where is it mentioned, in *any* of my comments that *anyone* should be “all or nothing”? Nowhere. The fact that *you* refer to yourself as vegan implies you have adopted an inherently extreme, limited lifestyle. As for stating you can’t be a “perfect vegan” simply by existing, well, to use *your* words, “is just stupid!” I’ve known many vegans that have bought food, clothing, toiletries, etc from purely vegan sellers. Yes, they were indie sellers, and they didn’t have a vast choice of goods, but they made it work. As difficult as it was, some 20+ years ago (*before* online retailers), I actually knew several vegans who managed to find all man-made ballet shoes. So, if you’re willing to put the effort into it, you *can* bypass supporting companies that go against your principles. It may also take some sacrifice, but again, it *is* possible. Also, a few google searches will tell you what brands/parent companies to avoid. You can also find message boards to find out where others buy their goods. I’m not telling you, or anyone else, *not* to shop at Sephora, I’m merely pointing out that *if* you choose to, you should know that you are, in fact, supporting animal testing, if you truly believe it *is* happening in China. Honestly, no vegan I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing would spend one cent there. Veganism is, in fact, “an all or nothing” lifestyle choice, inherntly, and is not a word that should be tossed around indiscriminately.

        • xamyx

          @Sarah S Where is it mentioned, in *any* of my comments that *anyone* should be “all or nothing”? Nowhere. The fact that *you* refer to yourself as vegan implies you have adopted an inherently extreme, limited lifestyle. As for stating you can’t be a “perfect vegan” simply by existing, well, to use *your* words, “is just stupid!” I’ve known many vegans that have bought food, clothing, toiletries, etc from purely vegan sellers. Yes, they were indie sellers, and they didn’t have a vast choice of goods, but they made it work. As difficult as it was, some 20+ years ago (*before* online retailers), I actually knew several vegans who managed to find all man-made ballet shoes. So, if you’re willing to put the effort into it, you *can* bypass supporting companies that go against your principles. It may also take some sacrifice, but again, it *is* possible. Also, a few google searches will tell you what brands/parent companies to avoid. You can also find message boards to find out where others buy their goods. I’m not telling you, or anyone else, *not* to shop at Sephora, I’m merely pointing out that *if* you choose to, you should know that you are, in fact, supporting animal testing, if you truly believe it *is* happening in China. Honestly, no vegan I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing would spend one cent there. Veganism is, in fact, “an all or nothing” lifestyle choice, inherently, and is not a word that should be tossed around indiscriminately.

        •  @xamyx  @Sarah
           Well, there you go. You just told me, a vegan, what it means to be vegan.  Do you also tell people they aren’t Christians? Please see my comment about how unnecessary it is to have vegan police… especially non-vegan ones.

        • watchthesky

           @xamyx  @Sarah you clearly don’t know many vegans or much about veganism but please continue spilling out bullshit :) you also have no idea where i live or what is available to me over here so making generalisations like that is unfair. no one said it was impossible, and no one said i, or others, don’t try. am i supposed to never eat? walk around naked? never clean my house or myself? never see a doctor? because everything, in some way, contributes to some form of animal cruelty. we all know that. the point is, as sarah said, to minimise suffering as much as possible. just because you claim i can’t be vegan and shop at sephora doesn’t mean i’m not vegan. get off your high horse.

        • xamyx

          @Sarah S Again, where is it stated that I am not now, nor have ever lead a vegan lifestyle? Again, nowhere. For the record, I did spend several years as a vegan. Then I realized (1) I wasn’t any healthier, and in fact, there are debates whether things like soy are actually healthy, (2) it was honestly too time consuming, and (3) I wasn’t willing to make the *extreme* sacrifices necessary to lead a *true* vegan lifestyle. And yes, I still consume animal products only on occasion, and I only by leather items in a charity shop (noone actually profits from *my* purchase). So, there you have it; I have done my research on, and have experience with, veganism.

  2. archexpert

    UD’s parent company Falic Group owns many duty free shops in airports which carry brands that both test on animals and contain animal products. I think if you dig deep enough, almost all widely available cosmetic companies can be linked to animal products or testing one way or another. I think that Urban Decay is digging themselves a hole by not acknowledging this in the first place. The fact is they are a company who’s goal is to make money. I don’t think that if animals were really their number one concern that they would have sold to LVMH or Falic. If someone is really concerned about avoiding any ties to animal cruelty it is best that they make their own cosmetics at home.

    • xamyx

      @archexpert Actually, UD is currently owned by the Castanea Group, a private equity firm, but I totally agree with the rest of your statement.

    • Kafka

      @Archexpert, I fully agree. Globalisation and corporate ownership complicate everything and make true theoretical consistency regarding animal testing extremely difficult, particularly if one is not a vegan and does wear leather. When you have a conglomerate like LVMH or L’Oreal which own a ton of luxury brands, as well as smaller cosmetic companies, how can one truly avoid animal testing if one goes far back enough up the corporate ladder? According to the link below, LVMH owns Guerlain, MUFE, Dior, Benefit, Fresh & some others. http://thebeautyjournal.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/something-you-should-know-in-the-cosmetic-industry-who-owns-whom/   Estée Lauder owns:  Aveda, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, M.A.C, Origins, Jo Malone, La Mer, etc.  L’Oreal owns YSL, Giorgio Armani, Kiehl’s, Shu Uemura, La Roche Posay, The Body Shop, Keratase and others.  Shiseido owns NARS, Cle de Peau, etc. (I don’t know anything about the inner workings or thinking of PETA but I suspect corporate ownership may be the reason why PETA doesn’t have NARS on its “no animal-testing” list.)  Where someone draws the line in the sand regarding animal-testing has to be a personal decision, but it does seem (to me, at least) that the only way to *truly* avoid *all* ties to any problematic corporate overlord or to a country with policies one disagrees with (whether animal, human labour, civil rights, etc.) is to stay at home and make things oneself (and probably without any technology made in China).       

  3. xamyx

    I just had *another* thought (yes, I *do* think alot!). Urban Decay just unveiled their “reformulation” a few months ago; did it occur to anyone else, perhaps this reformulation was done to comply with Chinese regulations, therefore nullifying the need for *any* testing? The timing is in synch with this announcement, and I’m sure the decision to expand to China has been in the works for some time, which correlates with the timing of the release of the 15 Anniversary palette nearly a year ago. Like I said, just a thought…