Like most red-blooded Americans, I am morally opposed to the idea of a beagle wearing foundation or a mouse wearing mascara; it's unnatural. As such, I only purchase cosmetics that don't test on animals — "cruelty free" products, if you will. But now, a lawsuit alleges that some pretty major makeup companies that claim they don't test on animals have actually been rouging up the rats in international markets while profitting handsomely from their fake animal-friendly status stateside.
We already knew that the cosmetics company claiming that a product is "cruelty free" is about as reliable as a salesman at TopShop claiming those iridescent blue clam diggers are "fun." It seems now, though, that in many cases, a "cruelty free" claim is an outright lie.
A class action lawsuit filed by 5 women in Los Angeles alleges that Mary Kay, Estee Lauder, and Avon have profited handsomely from false claims that their products don't test on animals. The three companies have been fixtures on PETA's Do Not Test list, have advertised that their products are cruelty-free, and have indicated a lack of animal testing on their products' packaging.
But when the three companies entered the Chinese market, that cruelty-free status went out the window, and the cosmetics giants continued to advertise themselves as non-animal testing in the American market while routinely testing Chinese products on animals. In China, animal testing is actually legally required in order for many products to reach the market.
According to the suit, the companies didn't adequately disclose to American consumers that while American market products weren't being tested on animals, Chinese products were practically made out of ground up kittens. The plaintiffs further allege that many American consumers bought Estee Lauder, Avon, and Mary Kay products under the false pretense that the company doesn't test on animals in any way, shape, or form, and are asking for $100 million in compensatory damages.
The plaintiffs do have a point — it's pretty crappy for a company to profit off a false claim that products aren't being test on animals when, in fact, they are totally being tested on animals. But, on the other hand, the FDA has admitted that there is "no legal definition" for the phrase "cruelty-free," and without a definition, the plaintiffs might not even have a case.
At any rate, the massive lawsuit should teach would be animal testing doubletalking companies that you can't have your cake and test waterproof mascara on it, too.
Class Claims Cosmetics are not 'Cruelty Free' [Courthouse News]
Image via Vasiliy Koval/Shutterstock.