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Earlier this week, animal rights organization PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) bought Revlon stock so that it could find out whether the cosmetics giant is paying for animal testing of its products in China, something it has been refusing to admit. Revlon, along with Avon, Estée Lauder and Mary Kay, is no longer on PETA’s list of ‘Companies that don’t test on animals’ because of their recent activities in China.

PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo said in a press release:

“Since Revlon won’t come clean to consumers, maybe it’ll answer a shareholder, If the company is breaking its 1989 ban on poisoning animals, we will find out in the boardroom, if necessary, and then shout it from the rooftop.”

Since 1989, after a very public campaign against animal testing in cosmetics products, PETA managed to convince several companies in the United States to take a pledge against cruel animal testing. Of course, terms like ‘cruelty-free’ are still debatable since it could still mean that the ingredients (if not the final product) are still being tested on animals, not by the manufacturer itself but by its suppliers. But still, it spelt a modicum of success by making consumers more aware of the awful realities of animal testing and as a result, giving companies good reason to watch their step.

However, commenting on the recent news, Guillermo has said:

“Avon, Estée Lauder, and Mary Kay have regressed a generation: Their products are once again being dripped into rabbits’ eyes and smeared onto animals’ abraded skin.”

The reason for such a regressive move is that for these companies to market in China, they actually need to conduct animal testing on all their products – it’s a legal prerequisite. So if a dip in customer loyalty was the moral ground on which these companies were operating from earlier, an opportunity to market to the world’s most populated nation is going to convince many others in the cosmetics industry to follow suit without remorse.

Check out PETA’s call to action urging Revlon to come clean about its animal testing policy. But if you’re considering signing the letter, then you should also ask yourself whether you really care. After all, we don’t often hear of companies in India being pulled up for cruelty in animal testing. The biggest proof of this lies on the PETA website itself. Several major brands that market in India figure in the organization’s list of ‘Companies that do test on animals’.  We’ve listed a few of them below:

Procter & Gamble (Braun, Docle & Gabbana, Dunhill, Hugo Boss, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Old Spice, Olay, Gillette)

Unilever (Axe, Sunsilk, Dove, Lux, Ponds, Vaseline)

Johnson & Johnson ( Band-Aid, Clean & Clear, Listerine, Neutrogena)

L’Oreal (Garnier, Kerastese, Lancome, Maybelline, Vichy)

Estée Lauder – MAC Cosmetics




Elizabeth Arden

And unlike in the West, where there are thousands of animal-friendly cosmetics companies to choose from, Indians seem to have become unwitting consumers of products manufactured by companies whose silence goes unquestioned because honestly, we just don’t have enough choice for a boycott. Or maybe that’s what we’d like to say to ourselves.