A few weeks back, I touched on the subject of Cruelty Free (CF) Cosmetics, and how NARS decided to ditch their animal friendly stance to enter the Chinese market. I learned a few things after speaking with Jenny Frankel, co-founder of NUDESTIX, over DM. She gave me the information I wanted to communicate.
NUDESTIX are a Cruelty Free brand based in Toronto, Canada. Their products are sold exclusively in Sephora stores in Australia, and I met the team when I attended the Sephora Exclusive Brands Showcase last year. I have not been to subsequent events, but the whole conversation started there in 2016 when Super-Mum and Entrepreneur, Jenny and I were talking about animal testing and the Chinese market.
First and foremost, I had little realized that my stance on using only CF cosmetics came from a place of privilege, living in a Western society where animal testing for cosmetics isn't yet banned, but just generally, not practiced for cosmetics and personal care products. China's political situation is based on what I understand to be a communist and authoritarian leaning government that allows for national and capital interests, only for a select few. I'm not an expert in politics, so take that with a grain of salt. Being able to talk about that in the way I am, shows my position of not living under this kind of ruling.
Regardless of why the Chinese government implemented such laws is beyond my comprehension, however, the regulatory bodies and internal “hush hush, confidential” attitude of the residual totalitarian ruling may have something to do with it.
I posted a link to the story covered by Business Wire on how NUDESTIX is maintaining their CF status while selling to the Chinese market. They basically collaborated with their European manufacturer that have manufacturing based on the mainland. Being owned by EU parent companies, strict quality and manufacturing standards are followed such that local manufacturing in China comes at a premium pricing (10% higher than EU). All employees are paid the equivalent of their European counterparts.
Non-special, locally manufactured cosmetic products in Chinese facilities located in cities/provinces that are exempt from pre-market animal testing, for sale in local retail stores, are not required to submit or commission any government based testing, but alternative data is accepted. NUDESTIX were able to submit in-vitro safety data to the authorities.
So far, the pre-market laws only apply to imported cosmetics; and that also includes the post-market testing that some of us were worried about. There are currently no laws stating that locally made products are to be randomly tested by authorities.
And this is how you do retail commerce in China, without sacrificing CF status. It's very costly, but the investment seemed to be worth it for NUDESTIX, there's just not much to say for the investments of brands importing their goods. They simply pay lip service and leave it at that.
CHINA'S ATTITUDE TO ANIMAL TESTING
Jenny informed me of some observations behind the average millennial living in urban areas of China; most aren't aware that it is happening.
When NUDESTIX launched in retail, they observed that the clients, staff and MUAs were not aware of the fact that their imported cosmetics were being tested before they hit the shelves. They had not agreed with the law, they were just oblivious because this information wasn't freely available or discussed.
The NUDESTIX model is hoping to change the attitudes from the consumer perspective by educating and offering CF options to a market saturated with imports that aren't cruelty free, in the hopes that consumer voices and purposeful boycotts may influence change.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP CHANGE THIS?
Hound the hell out of companies that are selling in China, tell them that there are ways of getting around these laws, they'll just have to invest a few extra dollars and time. Give them your feedback, and hopefully with a mass of people saying “WE WANT OUR COSMETICS TO NOT BE TESTED ON ANIMALS”, maybe reform may come. The alternatives are there and are accepted as sufficient safety data in other East and South East Asian countries. Be proactive on the issue, and never shut up when the “except where required by law” rhetoric comes up.
Buy all those CF brands hiding under the umbrellas of non-CF parent companies. Tell them that you want change, not excuses. Show us what kind of work is happening with the authorities in charge of regulating this business.
This goes for beauty media and brands alike – don't simply do it out of convenience or campaigns, make it an everyday conversation.