Friday 14 April 2017

Cruelty Free FAQ: What's the deal with Parent Companies?

about cruelty free parent companies

There are a lot of questions to verify whether a brand is cruelty free. Animal testing is illegal in the EU so it's not a case of asking "Do you test on animals?" Because a brand can say omg no we would never do that (*unless required by law in countries that we can make a lot of DOLLAAA). And technically they aren't lying. You have to think about where their ingredients come from, where the brand chooses to sell their products and who owns the brand.

If a brand sells their products in China, for example, they are absolutely NOT cruelty free. There are no two ways about it. They make the choice to sell in China and subsequently test their products on animals and that is that.

However, the waters get a little murky when it comes to parent companies. Many companies are subsidiaries of another company that may own the majority (anything over 51%) of their shares, or are the largest individual shareholder. The subsidiary is no longer fully independent BUT that doesn't mean they now test on animals. They can still function in the same way as they did previously. Still with me, buddy?

An example of this is The Body Shop, or NYX Cosmetics. They both existed as independent brands before being bought by the L'Oreal company for a huge amount of money. Many people see this as a sellout (literally) and believe these brands forfeit their right to be classed as cruelty free. Both of these brands, though owned by a brand that tests, still refrain from animal testing. Neither sell in China and continue to be certified cruelty free by various organisations such as PETA and the Leaping Bunny. It is a very divisive issue amongst the cruelty free community...

Despite these brands selling themselves to larger, *less ethical* companies they still do not test. Okay, we know that and that's all well and good. But they are still OWNED BY these big, bad guys which means that when we buy from Superdrug or Urban Decay etc, the profits that we are creating are lining the pockets of people who contribute to suffering of animals via animal testing. And that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. I often manage to talk myself out of purchasing from subsidiaries of testing companies for this reason. I put a lot of effort into being cruelty free, and I hate the thought of inadvertantly funding and supporting animal testing. 

But I usually see it this way: I think I used this anecdote in a previous post so forgive me if this is a bit familiar to you. I have been a vegetarian for nearly 12 years, I don't personally buy leather or silk products, at the moment I am cutting back on my eggs and dairy, I buy fair trade when I can and I shop cruelty free. I like to think I'm doing my bit. My family and friends, on the other hand, are not. None of my family are vegetarian, nor particularly care enough about animal testing to make changes to their lifestyle, which makes me sad. But that doesn't diminish my efforts. I am absolutely not going to distance myself from every single person in my life that doesn't meet my personal ethical standards. I would have literally zero friends left. LITERALLY. (I only have like, 4 at the moment as it is).

And that's kind of how I view parent companies - yes, my money is going to them but I also feel that by boycotting their subsidiaries that do test on animals in favour of ones who don't I am sending a message. If I boycotted Nyx and The Body Shop altogether for being owned by L'Oreal then why would they even bother being cruelty free? They may as well cash in and sell in China like the rest. But they don't and I support that.

I would REALLY love to know how you all feel about this. I know it is a simplistic anecdote and it goes further than that, but I hope if you disagree we can be respectful of each other. There is so much competitiveness of "oh I'm more vegan than you" or "omg you're not cruelty free ENOUGH" and it doesn't achieve anything at all.



  1. I love your philosophy, I just think that as long are people are doing their best to research and become aware of the ethics and make a few changes, that's enough. As long as people are constantly improving and educating themselves. Your knowledge of cosmetic brands is great and I would love to read some more posts similar to this as I find buying cruelty free the hardest part of living a vegan lifestyle, thank you for making this issue much clearer!


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