As consumer demand for cruelty-free products has grown in recent years, the market has largely responded. But one major hurdle remains for brands that are hoping to appease cruelty-free-desiring shoppers and still do business in the Chinese market: In China, there are strict guidelines that require cosmetics and skin-care products to go through animal testing in government labs in order to be approved for sale in the country. That's proven to be a problem for large-scale beauty brands that prize international business, like L'Oréal, Shiseido, Estée Lauder, Proctor & Gamble and Nars, all of which have received a certain amount of backlash (especially evident on social media) for being complicit in animal testing practices.
On Tuesday, Nars took to social media to address consumers' concerns directly, posting the below statement to Instagram:
"We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China. We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods. We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognized organization at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world."
With this message, it's clear that Nars is still trying to walk the line between appeasing opponents of animal testing while also maintaining its presence in the Chinese market. And it seems that's not enough to placate many of the brand's concerned customers.
One Instagram user, @samantha_crow, commented on the post calling for Nars to cease operations in China: "The way to fight for a cruelty free world is for LESS BRANDS TO SELL IN CHINA. If every brand chooses not to sell there, they'll have no makeup and they'll be forced to change. You are taking a step towards animal cruelty," they wrote. "SO disappointed," commented another,@dariansimmone. "You obviously don't believe in animal welfare if you are willing to sell to China. Never purchasing NARS products again."
While Nars no doubt intended this statement as a gesture of goodwill to let the public know it's not oblivious to concerns about animal testing, it doesn't seem to have been received as positively as the company had hoped. But until China changes its regulations, this is an issue that's going to continue to plague global beauty brands.