L’Oreal have recently announced that they have donated $1.2 million to the Environmental Protection Agency towards research in alternatives to animal testing. Now while this seems to be good news for animals, are L’Oreal donating this money because they really care about animals or is it a media stunt to distract their customers away from their current cruel animal testing practices? Major national anti-testing charity, Uncaged, states that “In 2009, 3,619,450 million experiments took place in British labs, an decrease of 36,540 on 2008” illustrating that over time, animal testing in this country is on the increase rather than decrease.
According to Stephanie Watson (2009) some companies today claim that their products are not tested on animals yet the ingredients they use or the companies they buy from still test on animals on their behalf. In L’Oreal’s sustainability report (2010) they claim that they “support the aim to eliminate animal testing” making it clear for those who can read between the lines that they only aim to eliminate animal testing in the future. However they also state that they have not “used laboratory animals for the testing of its finished cosmetic products for 20 years”. This cleverly worded and confusing statement that their “finished products” are not animal tested is often repeated through their Facebook page when curious customers ask them about their testing practices. More often than not, the customer will be quite happy with this response and not ask for further clarity, I however decided to ask them myself whether they test their ingredients, rather than finished products, on animals. Bemused by their reluctance to answer my question and stating only that their “finished products” are not tested, I decided to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Immediately I received a reply, again asserting that their “finished products” are not tested on animals but without directly answering my question. When I asked for a clear answer on whether they test their ingredients on animals, rather than the finished products, strangely their email system must not have been working that day as well as their Facebook page, because two months later despite a reminder, they still haven’t replied to me.
Joel Bonner, 18, who is boycotting L’Oreal asked them this question himself on their Facebook page. He found that the replies he received were the same cleverly worded statements which he feels are intended to deceive customers into thinking L’Oreal is completely cruelty free. He said "The way L’Oreal names charities in their Facebook comments every time someone asks about animal testing is just so they can try and cover themselves from any opposing argument, also so they can avoid answering the question that was given to them." Philip Flight, 27, who is also boycotting the company said "I find it unbelievable how an enormous organisation such as L'Oreal can possibly be stuck in the dark ages when it comes to animal testing, and on top of that feel they have the right to con people into thinking they are buying from a morally responsible company. I sincerely hope that more people become aware of their atrocious treatment of innocent animals for the sake of satisfying other peoples' vanity and making billions from it."
This is not the first time L’Oreal have been accused of deceiving it’s customers, with heavily airbrushed adverts for anti-ageing products being banned last year for presenting strongly unrealistic results. Perhaps as an effort to reverse these connotations of false advertising, this year L’Oreal have released a mascara declaring proudly that false lashes have not been used in the advertisement. Despite this, heavy airbrushing and possibly CGI has still been used instead, which for some people renders their ethics questionable.
A Wordpress website (lorealinoa.wordpress.com) which is committed to investigating L’Oreal’s animal testing practices as well as their deceiving labelling and advertisements describes L’Oreal as “the single biggest obstacle to ending cosmetic testing on animals within the United States and the European Union.” Indeed L’Oreal are the worlds biggest cosmetics company, reportedly taking in over €19 billion every year. Some people may argue that animal testing is a necessary evil to ensure products are safe for human consumption. However, many less profitable companies such as Superdrug and The Cooperative Group have completely stopped testing on animals. These companies who have been BUAV approved as cruelty-free demonstrate that animal testing is not necessary for testing the safety of their products; there are alternatives such as human and computer testing as well as clinical trials. Nor are these alternative methods too expensive for less profitable companies to employ. So why are many multi-billion dollar companies such as L’Oreal (Maybelline, The Body Shop) and Procter and Gamble (Max Factor, Pantene, Gillette) still listed as cruel companies by national anti-testing charities, such as Uncaged and PETA? Greed for fatter profit is surely the most viable explanation. In regards to L’Oreal’s donation to the Environmental Protection Agency, what is $1 million when they earn billions every single year? The way I see it, any praise they may receive for the donation would be the equivalent of me donating a few pence to a vegetarian society while continuing to eat meat then expecting to be applauded for my vegetarianism.
Have you received any successful replies from L’Oreal? Let me know at email@example.com
For a list of cruelty-free companies, log on to www.leapingbunny.org/shopping or check out my cruelty-free cosmetics reviews at kindcosmetics.blogspot.com