Cruelty-free brands are having a moment. New exemptions outlined in China’s latest Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation update mean that certain products can now enter the country without undergoing animal testing on arrival. These “ordinary” or “general use” cosmetics include mascara, shampoo, and fragrances.
France has become the first European country to qualify for these exonerations. The National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) has developed a dedicated platform in France to enable its manufacturers to obtain the necessary certificates and approvals for easier access to the mainland. Other EU countries are now racing to devise their own frameworks to meet the update and see their brands follow suit with easier access to China.
China has agreed to drop its animal testing requirement for imported cosmetics as long as manufacturers can provide a certificate of conformity confirming that the product complies with various manufacturing and product safety standards.
The French health authorities have risen to the challenge and are now in a position to issue this document, ahead of their European equivalents.
Animal testing is a contentious practice and has long proven a barrier to selling in China for EU companies. As Patrick O’Quin, FEBEA President explains,
“We are delighted with this progress, which rewards several years of efforts made with the Chinese authorities. The cosmetics sector is the only one to have completely banned animal testing in Europe, and we are happy to continue to develop regulations in other parts of the world. This agreement will also allow French cosmetic companies to export under new conditions to China. This country is today our second trading partner.”
What are parabens, and why are they used in cosmetics?
Parabens are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. Preservatives may be used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, in order to protect both the products and consumers.
The parabens used most commonly in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.
Product ingredient labels typically list more than one paraben in a product, and parabens are often used in combination with other types of preservatives to better protect against a broad range of microorganisms.
What kinds of products contain parabens?
Parabens are used in a wide variety of cosmetics, as well as in foods and drugs. Cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and shaving products, among others. Many major brands of deodorants do not currently contain parabens, although some may.
Cosmetics sold to consumers in stores or online must have a list of ingredients, each listed by its common or usual name. This is important information for consumers who want to find out whether a product contains an ingredient they wish to avoid. Parabens are usually easy to identify by their name, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or ethylparaben.
Does FDA regulate the use of preservatives in cosmetics?
FDA doesn’t have special rules that apply only to preservatives in cosmetics. The law treats preservatives in cosmetics the same as other cosmetic ingredients.
However, it is against the law to market a cosmetic in interstate commerce if it is adulterated or misbranded. This means, for example, that cosmetics must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label or in the customary way, and they must be properly labeled.
FDA can take action against a cosmetic on the market that does not comply with the laws we enforce. However, to take action against a cosmetic for safety reasons, we must have reliable scientific information showing that the product is harmful when consumers use it according to directions on the label or in the customary way.
Why are parabens thought to be bad for us?
While the FDA continues to conduct research regarding the effects of various Parbens on our health, other organizations have conducted their own studies to come up with the following conclusions.
‘Parabens allow products to survive for months, even years, in our bathroom cabinet; however when you use these products, they can also enter your body through your skin’, explains Tom Oliver, Nutritionist & Personal Trainer.
In 2004, a British study found traces of five parabens in the breast tissue of 19 out of 20 women studied. The study didn’t prove that parabens can cause cancer but identified that the parabens were able to penetrate the skin and remain within tissue.
Parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking oestrogen. Too much oestrogen can trigger an increase in breast cell division and growth of tumours, which is why paraben use has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
Why are parabens bad for the environment?
Parabens aren’t just bad for humans, they impact the environment too. ‘A scientific study reported that parabens have been found for the first time in the bodies of marine mammals’, reveals Tom, ‘Researchers believe that it is likely these parabens come from products we use that are washed into the sewage system and released into the environment.’
So we should stop using parabens ASAP, right?
Don’t panic. It’s important to note that the percentage of preservative in a formulation is generally very small.
‘It’s difficult to say if parabens are categorically “bad” for us,’ says Michelle, ‘but there are many other preservatives now available so it’s no longer necessary to use them.
‘Manufacturers are creating new and effective preservatives all the time so there is a greater choice currently available.’
Some people assume that paraben-free and natural products are simply not as effective. ‘Paraben is cheap to mass-market,’ explains Tom, ‘but there are so many synthetic-free products on the market that are just as effective, I don’t see the need of using artificial ingredients which can cause irritation and stress, especially to sensitive skin types.’
The conclusion? Make an educated decision about what you put on your skin.
The term ‘paraben-free’ isn’t always the final answer.
Tom warns that we should remain sceptical. ‘Although it looks as though many beauty companies are responding to the public’s concerns about parabens, some may be merely “greenwashing” – a term used when a “paraben-free” company markets themselves as a natural alternative, when in fact they contain other synthetic ingredients that may cause harm or irritation to the skin.’
In general, never take marketing and adverts at face value. With so much information available, it’s easy to educate ourselves on the label content of our beauty products.
For an approved preservative listing, refer to ECOCERT – a certification body for the development of standards in natural and organic cosmetics.
The queen of American fashion, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, proclaimed her “the most influential makeup artist in the world.” Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II made her a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the fashion and beauty industry. It’s undeniable: Pat McGrath is the most influential and sought-after makeup artist in the world.
For more than two decades, Pat McGrath has been concepting, launching and developing luxury cosmetic brands, countless runway shows, breakthrough advertising campaigns and editorial spreads. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #5 series on my blog.
Her ascent to the pinnacle of fashion began in the 1990s with an introduction to legendary lensman Steven Meisel by supermodel Amber Valleta. Fast friends and symbiotic collaborators, they’ve created every cover and lead editorial story for every issue of Vogue Italia, indisputably iconic images for leading global publications and countless brand-defining campaigns.
Each season, Pat McGrath conceptualizes and creates beauty looks for more than 60 ready-to-wear and couture shows in Milan, Paris, London and New York for a luminous roster of the world’s most prestigious brands and visionary designers: Prada, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Gucci, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Maison Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Valentino, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Calvin Klein, Loewe, and Alexander McQueen, to name a select few.
With her incomparable mastery and iconoclastic vision, Pat McGrath has transformed the beauty industry. Name any trend of the past two decades, and you’ll find her at its origin, from 1990s dewy skin to no-retouching-necessary foundation specifically designed for this decade’s selfies.
When Giorgio Armani hired her to develop and launch a line of cosmetics in 1999, the minimalist maestro said, “I was struck by the way she interpreted colour and by her ideas about beauty and femininity.”
Engaged as Global Beauty Creative Design Director by Procter & Gamble in 2004, Pat McGrath oversees Covergirl, Max Factor and created Dolce & Gabbana: The Makeup. Recently, she also designed and launched Gucci’s debut cosmetic collection. “She is a terrific business partner. Our success is her success, and vice versa,” says Esi Eggleston Bracey, Vice President and General Manager of Procter & Gamble Cosmetics.
A true creator and innovator at the forefront of the multi-billion dollar global beauty industry with an ever-expanding reach on social media, her recent blockbuster success with PAT McGRATH LABS further proves that she’s poised to elevate beauty to even headier altitudes.
Currently, there are 37 products on Sephora.com listed for PAT McGRATH LABS brand, even more can be found on their official website. Surely, the prices are extremely high, unreachable for some. But from the color stories, to packaging, to longevity, to formulas … there’s very few people in the world who ever declutter this brand’s products out of their collection due to dissatisfaction.
With a creative vision that’s made her a tour de force that touches everything from couture to club kids and street culture; her influence is everywhere, from screen to stage to digital: it’s undeniable, Pat McGrath knows no boundaries.
Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty after years of experimenting with the best-of-the-best in beauty—and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones. She launched a makeup line “so that people everywhere would be included,” focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #4 series on my blog.
Before she was @BadGalRiRi: music, fashion and beauty icon, Robyn Rihanna Fenty was a little girl in Barbados transfixed by her mother’s lipstick. The first time she experienced makeup for herself, she never looked back. Makeup became her weapon of choice for self-expression—a way to radiate her ever-changing mood—and it powered a fearless take on beauty that helped her become the boundary-breaking icon she is today.
Fenty Beauty products are designed to feel lightweight and luxurious, as they deliver buildable coverage that effortlessly layers, to ultimately “make skin look like skin.” Most importantly, Rihanna creates makeup to inspire:
“Makeup is there for you to have fun with,” she says. “It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”
And that’s exactly what customers can expect to see when browsing the Fenty Beauty stands in Sephora or online: unique colours and combinations, innovative formulas, sleek packaging that demonstrates a professional high-end feel, yet holding inside inspiring products to get us out of our comfort zone.
There are currently 87 products listed for the brand on Sephora.com, ranging from base/complexion products, to eyes, lips, and body makeup. The brand is part of the LVMH umbrella, which also oversees Dior, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, and more designer brands (which explains the aesthetic of the Fenty Beauty line). But Rihanna didn’t just slap her name on makeup and call it a day, she takes an active role in formulating her products, coming up with ideas, representing and wearing her brand, and encouraging men and women alike to express themselves unlike we’ve ever seen before.
– Charlotte Tilbury (update) – there was some confusion regarding the stand of the brand, as they were selling in China where customers can touch the products but order online only, which would make the brand cruelty-free by Logical Harmony standards; they have stopped doing this completely
– Smashbox – pulled their stock from China over the past couple of years (read more here)
* Fenty Beauty – the brand sells in areas of China where animal testing is not required, however, some people still will not consider the brand to be cruelty-free due to this ambiguous practice (read more here)
Brands That Aren’t Cruelty-Free Anymore
– NARS – started selling in China to increase their consumer market a couple of years ago (read more here)
– Wet’n’Wild – in 2019 they were caught in odd practices: some of their products are manufactured in China (which doesn’t require pre-market testing) but they can be tested at any time post-market (read more here)
– Physicians Formula – owned by the same company as Wet’n’Wild, and exhibit the same procedure as that brand (read more here)
Here is my original post from several weeks ago about cruelty-free brands:
If you’re a regular in the beauty sphere, then you may have heard about (or comparisons to) Bobbi Brown products: shimmer bricks, vitamin enriched face base, crushed liquid lipsticks, etc. Ring a bell? Well, there’re 75 products listed on Sephora.com for this brand, which cover every step of makeup application, including skincare and brushes.
But there’s much more to the brand than just high price tags and simple/professional packaging. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #3 series on my blog.
Brown graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a self-directed degree in theatrical makeup. In 1980, she moved to NYC to work as a professional makeup artist. Brown became known for a makeup style that included moderate and natural tones, which was a stark contrast to the bright colors used at the time.
A chance meeting with an NBC Today Show producer led to her 12-year run as a regular beauty consultant on the show. The revolutionary success of her makeup line prompted Estee Lauder to buy the company in 1995, retaining Brown as an employee. Her work has since been featured on the covers of magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Self, and Town & Country. Brown was inducted into the New jersey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013. Brown served as Yahoo Beauty’s Editor-in-Chief from February 2014 to February 2016. In November 2017, Brown received the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Award for her work in Beauty.
In 1990, Brown worked with a chemist to come up with ten natural lipstick shades. In 1991, the ten shades debuted under the name Bobbi Brown Essentials at Bergdorf Goodman. She was expecting to sell 100 in a month but instead sold 100 in a day. The following year, she released yellow-toned foundation sticks. Estée Lauder Companies Inc. bought Bobbi Brown Essentials in 1995; Brown retained complete creative control of the makeup line. In 2007, the first freestanding Bobbi Brown Cosmetics retail store opened in Auckland, New Zealand with a makeup school in the back. In 2012, Bobbi Brown’s cosmetics were estimated to represent approximately ten percent of Estée Lauder Companies’ total sales. As of January 2014, there were approximately thirty free-standing Bobbi Brown cosmetics stores.
Why Did She Leave?
Flipping through Bobbi Brown’s latest book, Beauty from the Inside Out, you’ll notice the makeup section is all the way at the end, practically an afterthought. That’s because Brown’s newest chapter in life is more about inner beauty than outer appearance. “In all my books, there were things about how food, drinking water, and lifestyle are going to make you the best version of yourself,” (she tells SELF), but the advice was complementary to a central focus on cosmetics. This time, she wanted to go all in. “I really tried to talk my publisher into letting me do a full-on health and wellness book,” she says. “We had to compromise and put some makeup in the back of the book.”
At the end of 2016, Brown announced that she was leaving her namesake makeup brand. To say beauty industry insiders were shocked would be an understatement. After two decades as the first and last name in makeup for many women, Brown had expanded her presence even more in recent years. She served as the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Beauty’s ambitious editorial relaunch in 2014 and still found time to for a personal blog, Everything Bobbi, where she gave readers an inside look at the inspiration behind her product launches, as well as her sartorial favorites.
But behind the scenes, Brown’s mood was shifting. Makeup no longer felt to her like the be-all-end-all of beauty, and the trends of the day were starting to wear her down. “It was not an overnight decision,” she says. “I was able to move into something I believe in 100 percent and not have to argue with people about another contour palette that I refuse to do.” As of January 1, 2017, Brown officially stepped away from her role as chief creative officer of the brand, her name the only remnant of her influence.
It is understandable why being a cruelty-free beauty brand pays off for both the brand and the consumer. The evolving awareness of animal cruelty is making the consumer navigate more towards cruelty-free brands that:
Do not test on animals;
Do not include Carmine (crushed bugs) as an ingridient for red pigments;
Do not use mink (and other) furs in false eyelashes;
Do not sell in China, where animal testing is mandatory to sell to Chinese consumers.
… and more.
According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), as of December 11, 2019, cruelty-free beauty brands include:
Watch Out! There have been three changes made in the industry since then:
Kat Von D Beauty underwent a rebrand and is now called KVD Vegan Beauty, however, they do still maintain a cruelty-free status;
Wet n Wild brand has found themselves in a huge scandal regarding their cruelty-free status, as they were spotted in China (a country that requires mandatory animal testing), which sent many beauty lovers into a frenzy and made them stop purchasing from the brand.
Physician’s Formula was found selling in China, secretly. Therefore, they have lost their cruelty-free status.
If animal testing and a cruelty-free status is something that is important to you – please do your research and find the most recent and credible information (some brands can be deceptive and advertise as something they are not).
Here are the three best resources for information about cruelty-free status for many brands: