Urban Decay Cosmetics Surrenders Its Cruelty Free Status In China

For my regular readers, yes, your computer is working correctly and this is indeed Kat O’ Nine Tales, home of snark, what-the-fuckery and other ridiculous shit.  Today’s regular post is being preempted by one of the very rare instances were I step out of my own little self-centered world to write about something that larger than myself.  I’m going to blame it on those raging hormones that I’ve been tweeting about and/or the roofies that I was slipped last night (true fucking story to be revealed in an upcoming post) for this sudden surge of activism.  I’ll be back to normal by Friday’s post.

It’s probably not surprising based on my writing not one, but two makeup articles at the Indie Chicks, that I take my makeup–or “warpaint” as I usually call it–seriously.  As much as I enjoy playing with my warpaint though, I’ve always bought makeup that is cruelty free to the best of my knowledge since there are a bunch of nasty little tricks that companies can employ to snatch that “cruelty free” tag while still testing on animals.

Urban Decay has long since been my favourite makeup company for their bright, shimmery colours, but most importantly because they have been cruelty free (again, as far as can be told) since the company first started.  Today, however, Urban Decay announced that they are expanding their company to China where animal testing will be employed prior to any product being approved for sale within the country.  I was extremely disappointed by UD’s decison, and had already resolved to longer purchase their makeup, but then I read UD’s press release about their expansion to China and I went on one epic, angry, white girl rant.  You can read the entire release here, but I’m going to hit the highlights and tell you why they are such bullshit.

Urban Decay’s release begins with one of the most fucking pedantic statements I have heard in a long time.

“…our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products”.

First of all, I love how they point the finger at the Chinese government instead of shoving it up their own ass where it belongs since it does not matter if UD does the testing themselves, they are the ones signing on the dotted line saying that it’s all good with them if the government wants to test away.  The other thing I love is how they specify that the government “might” do a  “one-time test” with their products.  News flash, UD, the Chinese government reserves the right to test as many times as they want and you fucking know it.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but in a country known for its human rights violations, it’s not difficult to imagine what the life of an animal test subject is like.

Urban Decay the continues with:

“The news that animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer was one of the biggest factors in our decision to go there….The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.”

Oh I see now.  Their decision to enter the Chinese market is all in an effort to help stop animal testing there.  It makes perfect sense now, in fact I think that we should employ this thinking even further.  How about we sell tickets to a show where an adult is smacking around a child, while explaining that it’s wrong to hit children, to try and stop child abuse?

And speaking of human rights, Urban Decay further states,

“We also hope to shed some light on women’s rights issues in China. For one thing, going into China is a way for us to advance women into important professional positions. We will help grow the cosmetics industry, which primarily employs and creates career paths for women.”

The level of bullshit in this statement is ridiculous I can’t even believe that I’m reading it.  Urban Decay is not going to China to build cute little boutiques with cushy office suites, and paid time-off, they are going to build factories where workers will make about $200 a month (on average, some do make more) while working 60+ hours a week.  The majority of factory workers in China remain in the same position for their entire lives–“opportunity for advancement” is a fucking joke.  This is why their next statement of  “We want to encourage a culture of consumers who care enough to buy cruelty-free products” is a complete joke as well.  The average Chinese woman is more concerned with trying to feed her family on her slave wages than buying makeup.

No, this all comes down to the almighty dollar.  As with the majority of products manufactured in China, the factory worker who creates the product can never hope to afford what they are producing.  Urban Decay will “expand its market” to China by using the country for its cheap labour and then ship the products back to the US, Canada and Europe where I highly doubt that the final price will reflect how much less was spent in its production.

I’m aware that this, unfortunately, is a normal practice for US companies, and I am as guilty as every other US citizen for buying products created through the exploitation of third-world countries, but what angers me so much about Urban Decay is that they are trying to pass off their expansion as some sort of humanitarian/animal rights movement instead of the bid to increase profits that it is.

Urban Decay concludes the release with the chipper little,

“We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.”

No.  I don’t respect it.  And I don’t respect you, Urban Decay.  For a company who creates products supposed to make things look pretty, you’re pretty fucking ugly.

fuck you guys kid

UPDATE: Almost exactly a month LATER, Urban Decay buckled under pressure and rescinded their decision to sell in China and are again cruelty free

UPDATE 2: Urban Decay has been sold to L’Oreal, a non cruelty free makeup company, so I’m back to hating Urban Decay.

27 thoughts on “Urban Decay Cosmetics Surrenders Its Cruelty Free Status In China

  1. I am so glad that you brought this to my attention but so disappointed in their reasoning. Of course it is bullshit. No matter what their logical reasoning was it was always going to be smoke and mirrors. The fact that they thought we’d buy into their bullshit is ridiculous though. It all comes down to saving money and that’s a shit way to try and be a “responsible” company. Good for you for calling them on their bullshit!

    • There’s a petition to get them to stop their expansion to China and remain cruelty free, but honestly, with how insulting to my intelligence this press release was, I don’t know if I’d even go back then.

  2. While I’m foaming with rage I’m glad that somebody else (which is you) managed to write a good article about this pamphlet of complete shit. While reading the UD statement I was constantly asking myself if the PR person that made up this huge pile of written crap also had to chocke with nearly every single sentence.

    BTW: My “favorite” line is this: “We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world…”

    I guess there is no better way to express how fucked up the management of UD has become!

    • Oh I loved that line, too. I don’t even know what they were trying to accomplish with that line since it’s so stupid–oh they allow dogs in their office, I guess they’re okay after all?

      Thanks so much for stopping by, LPT, and I’m thrilled that you found my piece to be a good rebuttal. It’s not my norm to write like this. ;)

  3. I very rarely wear make up any more, not because I don’t like to but at some point (on the downhill side of 65) it all runs into the creases and you look like the Killer Klowns from Outerspace. However I am NOT to old to care about kindness, humanity and fair play. Humanity also applies to animals I think. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I like your usual what the fuckery just fine as it suits my crochety old person mentality, but when you step outside of that you do very well also. Keep the hits coming Kat!

  4. WOW Kat! Do you feel better? Every now and then I have to have a rant too, but I don’t think I am ever as articulate as that one. Mine sounds more like a sailor coming fresh off the boat with a keg strapped to his mouth.

    I think I need to keep my mouth shut regarding animal rights. My mother won a mink in the early 80’s in a contest (back when fur was still acceptable) and I have it and wear it to this day. Maybe only once a year, but I wear it. So I think as far as animal rights if I start to really pound my foot on a soap box I should get rid of it, but it was my mom’s and I can’t (well won’t) part with it.

    • Sweety I know that some of my more stringent animal lovers would disagree, but I think it would be unfair of anyone to demand you to throw out your mink. In my opinion, you inherited it and a long time ago at that. To throw it out would mean that the mink died for nothing. If you were going out to buy a new fur, then I might have to flip out a bit, but I don’t think that you have any reason to feel guilty. Also? It doesn’t mean that you can be on the soap box about animals TODAY, so hope on up here with me. ;)

      (And truthfully if I look around I’m sure that I own products that are a violation somewhere and I don’t even know it. We can only do the best we can.)

  5. We all talked briefly about this yesterday but their statement is entirely laughable. When I read the line that says “The news that animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer was one of the biggest factors in our decision to go there…” all I saw was animal rights don’t exist in China so we’re going there to make products so we don’t have to worry about being cruelty free. If it doesn’t “register with the average Chinese consumer” that, apparently, makes it okay. I’m going to do more homework before I buy my products.

    • Good for you, darlin’! Companies are always doing tricky shit to make themselves appear more humanitarian than they are, but at least we are making the effort to be informed. You’re awesome, Michael! =D

  6. Thanks for this! I heard about it and was snooping for more information when I happened along your site. This is such crap. Tweeted to my (few) followers. Thanks for writing a great, in depth, well written piece about it.

  7. Good on you Kat for putting this out into the light for what it is, prettied up, glossed over bullshit tactics that a company is using in an attempt to placate it’s product users and make them feel as though they are helping the problem instead of exploiting it into a bigger issue simply because they can. To say that they are doing this in an attempt to enlighten the Chinese about animal cruelty is an insult to the intelligence of their customers. Unbelievable.

    • Thank you so much, my darling. I wanted to break it down so that people who wanted more info didn’t have to wade through their shitty veneer, and it looks like I was able to do that, which is pretty awesome. =)

  8. I actually have no problem with animal testing. I have no problem with outsourcing to China. But I have a HUGE problem with chicanery. be up front. Explain that the cost benefits of moving the company outweigh the social capital of being cruelty free.

    kinda makes me wish I used their makeup so I can boycott.

    • I’m a huge animal rights person, but I have to say that their insulting my intelligence was what sent me right over the edge.

      My thing in particular with animal testing and makeup though? It’s not like testing medication–which I don’t particularly like, but am forced to accept as I take several medications and I know animals somewhere suffered so that I could be healthy–but makeup is for our vanity only. I’d rather deal with the dark circles under my eyes than have an animal suffer so that I could look a little more attractive.

  9. Good grief! I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such well-developed reverse logic. I’d join in boycotting with you, but if I ever wore make-up, I’d be contributing TO “urban decay”.

  10. I think my IQ dropped by reading just portions of their statement. Do they really think people are that stupid that they can’t read between the lines. Hell, just read period. It’s not like they’re trying to hide it. Dirty rotten bastards.

    • I’ve seen a few people saying how they support UD’s efforts in China blah blah blah, and I have to wonder if they’re really that stupid or just looking for an excuse to still buy their products.

  11. 1.) Good for you for writing an angry but well-written and articulate post and for putting this out there for people who may not have known. (I’m against animal testing, but I have never bought UD, so I wasn’t sure on their policies).
    2.) Fuck those assholes.

  12. I didn’t even know something called “urban decay” was a thing. Like, decay? on your face? oh, jaysus.

    But on a completely different and non-despicable note, have you seen the blog EPBOT yet? It’s one of my favorites, and she does a Saturday Steam post every week…and this one made me HAVE to show it to you: http://www.epbot.com/2012/06/saturday-steam-6212.html

    *waits for Kat to go look*

    You’re back? I KNOW, right? Kickass.

  13. I will never use their makeup again.

    Kidding aside, this is pretty terrible, and it’s astounding that companies still do this kind of shit. Illegal here? Oh, okay, let’s go to where it’s not illegal. Here, it’s illegal to sell my wife for prostitution, so I’m just gonna go to a third world country where it’s legal. See? I’m a nice guy!

  14. Oh my god! If YOU ran for ANY political office it would be sublime.
    1. You have the facts to support your fucking opinion
    2. You speak with fucking heart – people love that shit
    3. Ya gots them powerful words man!
    4. People ALWAYS feel shocked when they hear a hot chick speak with knowledge (remember Caribou Barbie? THAT is what people expect from woman in politics…)

    Urban Decay on prostitution (if they were ever asked): “Although we don’t support the selling of a woman’s body, we are happy it exists because it brings much needed income to this lesser sex, and it takes US off the hook when our husband wants some action.”

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