Makeup and Ethics: Is Cruelty Free Makeup Just Another Marketing Scheme?

This post is definitely more of an exercise of thought than it is my personal opinion. I thoroughly enjoy writing about touchy topics in the beauty community in addition to my daily product reviews on Instagram and my YouTube videos. For me, it’s more creative writing than anything else. When you think about something long enough, sometimes it’s just best to put pen to paper.

Today’s post is no different and in no way means to offend those that are for or against the recent wave of cruelty free makeup comments hitting everyone’s social media accounts. To start, Kat Von D, Nars and Wet n Wild all come to mind. So does China. It feels like over the past year brands and influencers have been speaking out against the practice of animal testing more so than they had in the past. Whole videos are being branded as “Cruelty-free Get Ready with Me’s” as people just in to publically demonstrate their support. Instagram posts are going up in solidarity as brands announce their position on selling products in China. Not flashy enough? Snapchat you throwing out your animal tested products so people really you know care. People are writing dramatically long posts on how animal testing is now bad and we should stop using these products immediately and remain loyal to brands and products that tout those cute bunny ears on their sites and on their packaging.

Sarcasm aside, it does feel like this interest in cruelty-free makeup has come out of nowhere and has already died as dramatically as it began. There’s a public aspect to it that’s a little unsettling. Given the ferocity in both uprising and demise of people taking up arms with anything related to animals for 2-3 months, I have to stop and wonder if this is just good for business or another friendly reminder to do “good” in the world that will pop back up again in a few months. My brain tends to think the former.

Let’s face it –being cruelty free is good for business. Reminding people about it is even better. I think this last wave started with KVD making a public statement on either Twitter or Instagram which spiraled into the series of events mentioned earlier (not fact checking as I’m not attacking here and that’s when this all caught my eye*). Kat has always been pro animals and she has been able to build a cruelty free brand that delivers on most products launches. While she’s had a few misses, one of the cornerstones of her marketing has been being cruelty free. If that’s her thing, I have no issue with her and her marketing team reminding us that that’s her thing. It’s the cornerstone of her brand.

Creating cruelty free product has direct impact on the bottom line of a brand as countries have their own rules and regulations for testing practices that dictate whether or not a brand can see there. China is a great example as there are not a cruelty free country and many brands chose to steer clear of selling there. I used to live in China and there Sephora’s are nothing like ours! It was a rough year not being able to get my hands on beloved brands let alone the right shades. Caring about animals affects the bottom line. Doing perceived “good” is good for business.

This often times comes up in the financial world, of which I work in full time. What role do companies play in stewardship? Should companies do more? Should they do anything? Do their shareholders expect them to? Are they playing with other people’s money making decisions that really have nothing to do with the end goal of making more of this said money? Finance is slightly different as most makeup companies are not traded on stock exchanges nor are they beholden to shareholders the way these large entities are, but there are similarities that are useful in writing this post. If you’re Kat and your brands includes loving animals then going cruelty free makes sense. If you’re Nars and this feels like it’s coming out of left field, then the business woman in me has a lot of questions. Of course, the person in me who has owned both cats and dogs all her life is somewhat happy.

While I won’t offer much of my personal opinion on the topic here, I may speak on it more in an upcoming video in January/ February (yes, I plan content that far in advance!). I’ll leave you with this—you can also flip this entire conversation on its head and ask: if brands are able to deliver high quality products without hurting animals, why not just do that then? Do we really have to hurt animals in the process?


Comment your thoughts down below! What do you think about cruelty free makeup? Is most of your collection cruelty free? Do you really care all that much? Are brand obligated to care about animals and the environment?

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