Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Urban Decay China Controversy

Today was a sad day for some of us loyal Urban Decay customers.  UD released this statement beneath:


Urban Decay is going to sell our products in China. Because of China’s policies on animal testing, we know that this will not be a popular decision with some of our loyal customers. But the decision is a thoughtful one.

For 16 years, we have been committed to two key causes: women’s rights, and the fight against animal testing. Our dedication to those causes will not waver.

For those of you unfamiliar with China’s policies, the sticking point is this: the Chinese government reserves the right to conduct animal testing with cosmetic products before the products are approved for use by Chinese citizens. The government has not told us if they have exercised this right with our products. So, our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products. Do we like China’s policies? No…and that is really the point. Going into China was a huge decision for Urban Decay. But, we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.

When we were considering expanding into China, a group of marketing consultants told us to remove the section of our company history that describes our crusade against animal testing. “It doesn’t mean anything to the Chinese beauty customer,” they said. Of course, we refused. Our “no animal testing” policy is part of who we are, and has been since day one. 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. During Urban Decay’s infancy, we worked hard to inform consumers about animal rights in the United States and Europe. The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.

We also hope to shed some light on women’s rights issues in China. As a company that caters to a female customer, this is extremely important to us. 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. Although workers’ employment rights are a relatively new concept there, progress has been made partially because of pressure from businesses, consumers, and advocacy groups from other countries. Based on this, our belief is that both an outside force and inside pressure for change can result in helping transform both the importance of women and animal testing policies in China. And more importantly, we hope to influence the perspective of the citizens on both of these issues.

If we don’t go to China, other companies without our beliefs will, and the culture will never change. We want to encourage a culture of consumers who care enough to buy cruelty-free products, and who view professional women as role models who influence their lives on a daily basis.

Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China. We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world… even if it is one eye shadow at a time! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t our style. We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.

Any editors or advocacy groups interested in interviews with Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir may contact us at

For any advocates or Urban Decay fans interested, Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir will host a live chat in 2 weeks to answer questions about our entry into China. Please click here if you would like to sign up to be notified. 

I think my feelings towards Urban Decay and why their statement offended me might be different from some people.  Most people feel that they are selling out and that they will no longer be cruelty free since China tests on animals for all cosmetics.  But for me, it is slightly more complicated...

I am not a vegan, I am not really an animal rights activist (though I don't believe in animal testing but still haven't made a complete leap to using cruelty free cosmetics), and I don't agree with many Chinese policies. I am personally offended NOT because UD wants to make money, not because of China's animal testing policies, but because of Urban Decay's hypocrisy of the whole thing. 

Who is Urban Decay to go into a country to try to "change" its polices? China needs changes and it will do so by itself.  A cosmetic company is not going to accomplish change by selling eyeshadows. What bothers me is the "we have to go educate the Chinese about women & animal rights, and westernize them" tone in that letter.   I find it highly offensive. The reason it's offensive is because that's not the true intent of UD. And since when are they all of a sudden interested in Women's rights issues?  

 UD has been for years a brand that advertises for being vegan and does not test on animals.  Please don't be trying to make a profit in China while criticizing China! That's just hypocritical. UD had the choice to not do business with China.  No one is forcing them to plus I am sure there are other markets and options out there.  Yes China has its issues but is America perfect?  Has America completely rid of cruelty free products and women's rights issues?

They are interested in a new market and expansion, and that's totally fine by my book. It is after all a for profit company.  What's not fine is NOT being honest. All they had to say was, "We are expanding to China", and then people can make up their minds weather they want to continue buying UD. But please don't say that you are going to China to try to "change" them. China does not need your help. 

Urban Deacy, why don't you worry about animal testing and women's rights first in our own country in the USA before worrying about another country???  You are dissing your loyal fans and your new market all at the same time.  It's pure scapegoating.

The sad part is that I do love UD makeup.... I have been a loyal fan for the past few years and have made countless videos, reviews, and tutorials about this brand.  I am not ready to commit to not buying their stuff from now on (though I most likely won't in the future), but I definitely will think twice and I will never look at the brand the same way.  I will continue to review and do tutorials with what I already own.

LeapingBunny Program has removed UD.  What are your thoughts?  Do you agree with what UD is doing?

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