Lauren Melella, Global Animal

Earlier this year, it was discovered that beauty powerhouses Avon, Estee Lauder, and Mary Kay had been secretly paying for Chinese officials to test their products on animals. Although companies in China are required by law to pay for tests on animals in order to market their cosmetics, many animal advocates, as well as PETA, felt that these proclaimed “cruelty-free” skincare brands were misleading the public. Deservingly, boycotts against the beauty giants followed suit. However, the companies continued to sell their products in China, and inevitably, animal testing continued.

Avon, Estee Lauder, and Mary Kay had been secretly paying China for animal testing after decades of touting their “no animal testing” policies. Photo Credit:

After this news broke, PETA took action. Currently, thanks to a $33,000 grant from PETA to the U.S.-based Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), scientists in China have received training on how to use a non-animal test that can replace an eye irritation test, in which chemicals are dripped into the eyes of rabbits. 

This is the second grant PETA has awarded to the IIVS after discovering that Avon, Estee Lauder, and Mary Kay had not provided Chinese scientists with training in the use of non-animal methods currently used in the U.S. and Europe. The test, known as the 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Test, is the first ever non-animal test to be used in China. 

IIVS, a worldwide leader in the advancement of non-animal test methods, held the training last week for 30 students and faculty at the Beijing Technical and Business University. In China, BTBU is the largest university program in cosmetic science. The students were taught how to use the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability assay to replace an eye irritation test on rabbits. 

Chinese scientists learn a new method that will replace a cruel eye irritation test used on rabbits. Photo Credit: PETA
Chinese scientists learn a new method that will replace a cruel eye irritation test used on rabbits. Photo Credit: PETA

Dr. Rodger Curren, president of IICS, stated, “Support from PETA has allowed the university to expedite the incorporation of hands-on training in non-animal (in vitro) methods to undergraduate, graduate, and faculty at BTBU. Both faculty and students are enthusiastic about the training, and planning for future sessions has already begun.”

PETA Senior Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo, stated, “PETA is pleased to work together with IIVS to show scientists in China how to use modern, humane, non-animal testing methods instead of poisoning animals in archaic tests. This is the first step toward the end of cosmetics tests on animals in China.”

Furthermore, NYX Cosmetics, another cosmetic giant, has publicly refused to sell its products in China. NYX joins a growing list of beauty industry leaders, such as Urban Decay and Paul Mitchell, that have refused to sell in the Chinese market. For this, PETA has awarded NYX Cosmetics with its Courage in Commerce Award. 

“NYX is a hero for animals and for millions of consumers who want beauty products that come without a death toll,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “NYX’s decision helps PETA send a strong message to the Chinese government and to the beauty industry that poisoning and killing animals for archaic cosmetics tests is never acceptable.”

It’s incredibly powerful to see NYX Cosmetics make the personal decision to take the proper steps and put an end to animal testing. Unlike the aforementioned beauty companies who had to be provided with support from PETA and IIVS to put a halt to cruel testing in China, we applaud NYX for stepping up and making the proper decision for animals rights.




  1. Cannot believe how these companies have been lying through their back teeth about everything and 'secretly' paying china to do these tests! I work for FM Cosmetics who sell their make up and perfume products in over 50 different countries worldwide, they have never tested their products on animals ever since they started back in 2004 and am proud to say I work for such a great, honest company 🙂 x.

  2. I will never spend one cent on buying cosmetics from any company who tests on animals, it is great that many state we wish for, and are working to find alternatives, but all that tells me is that the company still endorses barbaric animal testing, and it is still occurring because the company has chosen profit before compassion! There are many companies who are cruelty-free and if the market demands that these companies must test on animals to sell in their country, such as China, then they simply do not sell in these countries! So please, if you really care about animals and you don't want your money to line the pockets of big profitable industries such as Mary Kay, Avon, Estee Lauder who tell the consumer they are committed to finding alternatives and are strong advocates for alternatives, if they cared enough, they would stop (even if it meant they had to withdraw their product from shelve sin some parts of the world). Please, please boycott them! The PETA website will provide you with a list of who does and who does not test on animals!

  3. The EU ban has been pure disappointment as it leaves loopholes in the system and allows these products to continue to be sold in the EU market, surprise surprise the big company's have made their way to pursuade the EU again. Mind you I find it hilarious that MK can parade around saying they don't test on animals, then to post an article mentioning that they do without exact words to get around it in their press release and to know with full knowledge that they conduct business in china to cut costs, and really won't change the Chinese Governments law on animal testing.

  4. Just wondering how Mary Kay will deal with the ban in Europe on animal-tested cosmetics beginning March 11 since animal testing on Mary Kay products continues in China? According to my reading of the new law, Mary Kay will not be able to sell in Europe if it continues animal testing in China. Any news on this?

  5. From the Mary Kay Website:
    Mary Kay Inc. does not support animal testing.
    Mary Kay Inc. is committed to the elimination of animal testing and is a strong advocate of utilizing alternative methods to substantiate the safety of our ingredients and products. We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to do so on our behalf, except when absolutely required by law. For more than two decades, we have been a global leader in helping to develop alternative testing methods for product safety. This commitment continues today, in partnership with global regulatory agencies that manage cosmetic safety, with animal advocacy groups and with leading animal alternative researchers.