Image Source: Her Campus
By Chrystianna Konidis | @ckonidis
Fans of the cruelty-free cosmetic movement were shocked to discover that products of cosmetic giant ‘Wet n Wild’ have recently become available for purchase in Shanghai, despite claiming to be a brand that prides itself on not testing on animals.
First announced by reputable blogger Cruelty-Free Kitty, consumers in China found that ‘Wet n Wild’ was indeed selling products in one of China’s largest beauty and health care chain stores, which has more than 3,000 locations in China alone.
After contacting ‘Wet n Wild’ about their cruelty-free status and if the brand was now selling in China, Cruelty-Free Kitty received this response in March 2019:
Image Source: Cruelty-free Kitty
When it comes to a cosmetic company choosing to support or go against the cruelty-free movement, choosing to sell products in China is detrimental to how a brand shapes its core values and ethics.
Mainland China makes up a hefty 20 per cent of the global beauty market share, with over $3 billion in revenue — it is the second largest country in the global cosmetic market behind the United States.
But strict Chinese laws enforce that brands wanting to import and sell products in China must undergo pre-market animal testing.
China is the only country in the world to, by law, mandate and require animal testing of products before they can be imported and sold to consumers.
For major cosmetic companies, the ethical dilemma of harming animals in order to enter the Chinese market so that they can sell millions of products and thus, make millions in revenue, continues to weigh heavily in the beauty world.
Brands such as KKW Beauty, Hourglass, and Jeffree Star turn over millions in profit without dipping into the animal cruelty world and maintain integrity in protecting thousands of animals from being subjected to extraneous torture.
Wet n Wild’ secretly entered the Chinese cosmetic market last year without warning its loyal, cruelty-free followers, and despite the country’s animal-testing laws, they claim to still be a cruelty-free brand.
In light of the controversy, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have announced their support of the brand in a recent press release.
“In order to be eligible for inclusion on PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free list, companies that sell in China may only sell domestically manufactured (made in China) non-special use cosmetics,” PETA said.
Image Source: Wet n Wild’s instagram @wetnwildbeauty
However, the global beauty community has become increasingly frustrated with the lack of transparency from ‘Wet n Wild’ as the brand has been a staple of the cruelty-free cosmetics movement for many years.
“Just because something passes an animal test, does not mean that it’ll have the same effect on humans and vice versa,” Jen Luvs Reviews said in a YouTube video.
“I was really rooting for them in all of this and am very disappointed in their lack of transparency with their customers,” Tashina Combs said in a similar video.
In recent weeks, ‘Wet n Wild’ has defended its cruelty-free status as its products are made in China and not imported.
Therefore, they do not legally require animal testing before being stocked on store shelves and are still considered cruelty-free.
Image Source: Wet n Wild’s Facebook page
Current Chinese cosmetic regulations state that “any cosmetic made and sold in China, but does not have a specific claim or function is not required to perform pre-market animal testing, but is still subject to post-market animal testing.”
This is the issue in question with Wet n Wild’s explanation of its cruelty-free status.
The brand has inadvertently claimed to avoid animal testing because their products are manufactured there, but cosmetics are still subject to post-market animal testing if they are sold in-store.
Because there is no clear procedure on post-market animal testing, many animal rights activists believe that this still means their products can no longer be considered cruelty-free.
What has the beauty community scratching their heads now is: why did ‘Wet n Wild’ choose to lie to its fans about selling its products in China, a well-known location of animal testing, when the brand has proactively campaigned as a reputable cruelty-free company?