MAC is it Cruelty-Free?

M.A.C began as a company that produced cosmetics exclusively for models. Yet, the models’ friends and family also wanted access to the products, so M.A.C made its makeup available to the wider public.

It has become one of the world’s biggest makeup brands. Globally, M.A.C has 500 stores that are run by professional makeup artists. 

The company says that it stands for all races, genders, and ages. That’s great and is inclusive as far as humanity is concerned.

But what about the animals?

Is MAC a cruelty-free company? Unfortunately not.

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What MAC says about animal testing

M.A.C’s official stand regarding animal testing is that it doesn’t do it. Here is what the company states on its website:

“M·A·C does not test on animals. We do not own any animal testing facilities and we never ask others to test on animals for us.

While some governments conduct animal testing to prove safety before they will allow us to sell our products, M·A·C has never tested on animals and we continue to be a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally. 

To this end, we are proud to partner with IIVS (INSTITUTE FOR IN VITRO SCIENCES) to expand the use and acceptance of non-animal testing methods worldwide.”

Here we have M.A.C. using clever PR wording. It says that it doesn’t test on animals or own any facilities that carry out such practices. That sounds great.

Yet, the rest of the above statement implies that M.A.C allows animal testing by third parties. That typically means China, where the government still can require animal testing.

Even M.A.C acknowledges this:

“Which countries require animal testing?

China tests on animals as part of its safety assessment of cosmetic products. We love our fans and we never want to exclude them anywhere.”

Here we come China

M.A.C. originally was against animal testing. Yet the allure of China was too strong. 

An article on teenVogue’s website has this to say:

“At the start, the brand was known for being vehemently against animal testing. But in 2005, when they started to sell in China — a $30 billion cosmetics market — things got a bit trickier.

The Chinese government required MAC – as they do with all importers of cosmetics – to pay for animal testing as part of the registration process…The MAC team isn’t as clear on what happens within those labs. They’re government-run facilities, so MAC isn’t present.

However, animal advocacy groups say the tests are torture for the animals. According to Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president of PETA, “substances will be force-fed to the animals, smeared onto their [skin] and into their eyes,” adding that “the bottom line is death.”

On M.A.C.’s website in India, the company says:

“We, like you, hate the fact that animal testing still exists. Decades ago, M·A·C was one of the first beauty companies to use alternatives to animal testing.

Alternatives exist, but they aren’t accepted everywhere. Even though we don’t test on animals ourselves, but because of requirements by law, our products or ingredients can be tested on animals in places like China.

If we had our way alternatives would be accepted everywhere, and we are trying to make that happen. We recently partnered with the INSTITUTE FOR IN VITRO SCIENCES (IIVS), whose mission it is to expand the use and acceptance of non-animal testing methods worldwide.

By funding IIVS’s International Outreach Program, which provides support to scientists and helps spread the acceptance of alternatives, we are working to make a difference. M·A·C has taken on hard issues before and we are committed to abolishing animal testing.

M·A·C is working toward a future where animal testing doesn’t exist.”

So, M.A.C. puffs out its chest and says “We don’t test on animals and support alternative methods of testing.” But then says, it has to endorse animal testing in China.

Why? Because the company says that it loves its fans and doesn’t want to exclude them anywhere. 

Also, on M.A.C.’s Chinese website there is no mention of its stance on animal testing.

M.A.C may love its fans, yet it doesn’t seem to extend that love to animals so much. 

M.A.C is owned by Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder bought a 51% share in M.A.C back in 1995. Then it bought out the rest of the M.A.C. in 1998 after the passing away of one of M.A.C’s founders. 

As a parent company, does Estee Lauder allow members of its group to test on animals? The answer is “Yes”.

From Estee Lauder’s site we read:

“At The Estée Lauder Companies, the safety of our consumers is our highest priority. We utilize the latest advances in non-animal safety testing and human volunteer testing to deliver products of the highest safety and quality to our consumers.

We do not test our products or ingredients on animals, or ask others to test on our behalf, except where required by law. We are proud that we were one of the first cosmetic companies to establish that cosmetic safety can be demonstrated by non animal testing methods.

There are, however, still some countries that believe they need to conduct or require animal testing in order to validate the safety of cosmetic ingredients or products. Our Company and all of our brands remain dedicated to the elimination of animal testing on all cosmetic products and ingredients worldwide.

We believe that animal testing should not be needed to validate safety of cosmetic products or ingredients and we are encouraging the use of alternatives and the elimination of such animal testing globally.”

Again, like M.A.C, we find a company that claims to not endorse animal testing, yet will allow it if required by law (such as in China).

Not much of a commitment by M.A.C or Estee Lauder to end animal testing. Even though both companies state that they are against such practices. 

China is too big of a market to ignore financially. 

So animal rights take a back seat to company profits. A statement that is disguised as a “love for our fans.” 

Cruelty-free M.A.C alternatives 

As you know, making statements such as “we don’t test on animals” and “we are cruelty-free” can just be empty words meant to appease those who care about animal welfare. Yet, some brands do practice what they preach. 

If you love makeup and animals, consider one of the following cruelty-free companies.

tarte Cosmetics

The company started in a 1-room rented apartment in New York City. Maureen Kelly, along with her friends and family, set about creating skincare products made with healthy ingredients.

Maureen states the products that she was using before had “not-so-cool ingredients in them.”

tarte’s products aren’t tested on animals and have been cruelty-free since its inception. Regarding its international products (again China is implied), tarte states:

“All ingredients and finished formulas tarte uses are tested & based on US FDA requirements before being imported to the US. We only work with highly reputable laboratories & factories that meet the strictest GMP standards, which is an international grading scale for cleanliness & the environment for workers that abide by a strict code of standards.

We also test each product ourselves to match our quality standards. Additionally, we are an approved PETA participant; they have audited our non-animal testing procedures.”

That makes tarte a company that knows where its products come from and how they are tested. PETA also checks the facilities to ensure that tarte is 100% cruelty-free.

Urban Decay

Starting in Southern California in 1996, Urban Decay has always been about disrupting the norm in the cosmetics world. It is unashamedly cruelty-free and states:


It’s a no-brainer. We’ve never tested on animals, and we never will—how could anyone do that to our furry friends?”

Also, the company is committed to making its products as vegan-friendly as possible. If you want truly vegan makeup, Urban Decay has a complete range that will suit you. 

The company is certified by PETA as being cruelty-free. Something that Urban Decay should mention on its site. 


Just looking at SugarPill’s products, you know that it’s a company that celebrates color and fun. Even the founder, Amy Doan, with her amazing yellow hair and gorgeous makeup, lets you know that this company is different.

The whole concept behind the brand is for people to celebrate being distinct. As Amy says: 

“I began to develop my own unique brand of cosmetics for beauty rebels who can’t help but stand out from the crowd!”

Since it began the company has been cruelty-free. To underscore the point that SugarpPill loves animals, Amy includes a photo of her cat, Turkey, on the “About” page.

Sugarpill says that it is certified by Leaping Bunny, yet it doesn’t appear in Leaping Bunny’s database. However, Sugarpill is recognized by PETA’s Beauty without Bunnies program.

Johnny Concert

This brand was inspired by the discovery that beauty products (in 2005) contained carcinogens. On top of that, animals were used for testing.

Both these shocking revelations caused Joanna Christina to find a solution to the problem.

The answer: create cosmetics that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. That has always been the driving force behind the brand.

It boldly states to be: CLEAN . VEGAN. CRUELTY FREE.

Regarding the ingredients that it uses, Johnny Concert states:

“Our entire product line is 100% Veganmeaning our products do not contain any animal derived ingredient or by-product including carmine, beeswax, lanolin, hydrolyzed silk, collagen, honey, etc.”

Concerning being cruelty-free, the company’s policy is:

“We have been a Cruelty-Free brand since we started and do not support any forms of animal testing nor purchase ingredients from suppliers that perform animal testing. We are proud to be certified Cruelty-Free by Leaping Bunny and the PETA Caring Consumer Program”.

Thanks, Johnny for being so caring about our beauty and the animals.

Lime Crime

The concept behind the brand is to allow for self-expression with makeup, while still being vegan and animal friendly. 

On its website, Lime Crime has a section dedicated to explaining what it means to be both vegan and cruelty-free. The company sums up both perfectly:

“Vegan Makeup – Does not include animal ingredients or byproducts such as beeswax, lanolin, whey, and carmine

Cruelty Free Makeup – Cosmetics products and ingredients that are not tested on animals”

Lime Crime doesn’t test on animals and is certified by Leaping Bunny and PETA.  That means you can look amazing and know that no animals have been harmed in the process.

Great stuff, Lime Crime.

M.A.C isn’t so MACnigificent

M.A.C openly claims that it doesn’t test on animals. Neither does it own facilities that carry out such practices.

Originally, this policy may have been one that M.A.C adhered to, yet the allure to China was too strong.

The company seemed to have been stuck between a rock and a hard place in 2005. Start selling in China, where animal testing was still permitted, or stick to its ethical principles.

The pendulum swung towards the Chinese side.

M.A.C’s reasoning is that it loves its fans everywhere.

Its move into the Chinese market wasn’t without controversy. Animal welfare lovers publicly denounced M.A.C.

On social media, calls were made to boycott M.A.C and switch to cruelty-free alternatives.

M.A.Cs response was to ignore the pleas and open its arms to China. Though M.A.C says it seeks other means of testing rather than using animals, these appear to be empty words to many. 

For those who are wanting to buy cruelty-free makeup, PETA has over 1,700 brands that you can choose from. 

Tarte, Johnny Concert, and Sugarpill are among the companies that have been driven to change the market. These companies have grown out of personal dissatisfaction with the ingredients most mainstream makeup brands use.

Additionally, they push towards creating a cruelty-free world.

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