Efforts by Western beauty giants to sell their brands to China's fast-growing middle classes are threatening to reverse years of progress in reducing animal testing, say campaigners.
Many UK shoppers think the battle against animal testing for lipsticks and blushers is won, but over the past year four multi-nationals have been stripped of official "cruelty-free" status because of their activities in China where animal experiments are mandatory.
France's L'Occitane, which has more than 70 boutiques in the UK selling Provencal beauty and bath products, has been ordered to remove the internationally recognised Leaping Bunny logo from its marketing worldwide, including in the UK. Fellow French firms Yves Rocher and Caudalie and America's Mary Kay have also been banned from using the logo. The companies say they want enjoyment of their shampoos, skincare and make-up to be spread among the 700 million women in China, where sales of cosmetics grew by 18 per cent to £10bn last year.
Campaigners accuse them of putting profits above principle. The Humane Society International is this week condemning the businesses in a campaign featuring the comedian Ricky Gervais, who will ask consumers to sign the charity's pledge to help end "cosmetics cruelty". Gervais, a noted anti-vivisection campaigner, told The Independent: "Like me, most people will be shocked to learn that testing cosmetics on animals is still a legal requirement in China. It makes me really angry that this is still going on, and it makes me particularly angry that some previously cruelty-free companies are abandoning their principles and returning to animal testing in order to profit from the Chinese market."
This is awful
"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?" - Edgars Mission