The Leaping Bunny is the universal symbol of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) reserved for brands and products strictly not tested on animals at any time during their preparation. As of the past couple of months and continuing through today, a number of companies that clearly took a stance in opposition to the practice have been forced to relinquish their Leaping Bunny, and not of any defection from their own creed — brands that allow their products to be imported to and sold in China will no longer be permitted to wear the Leaping Bunny as a cruelty-free claim.
Animal testing in the cosmetics industry is an all but familiar topic for consumers, manufacturers, and activists alike. It’s important to understand that the procedures extend far beyond slapping Chanel lipstick on a lab rat; rather, products and ingredients are often administered to the mucous membranes of the animal, including eyes, nose, and mouth, before the subject is euthanized. It’s a depressing reality, and it’s one that has persisted as the raw, bleeding truth behind the booming beauty business for time immemorial. Explicit awareness of this long-standing cruelty can certainly sap all the joy out of a Sephora binge in seconds flat.
While the U.S. government has taken steps to adopt a new set of more stringent federal rules, these attempts at change are still forthcoming — The Safe Cosmetics Act of last June, which promotes an overhaul of current guidelines in order to phase out ingredients known to be harmful as well as foster the development of humane alternatives to animal testing, has yet to make its way into de jure practice. As for the international state of affairs, the European Union has banned both the practice and sale of animal-tested cosmetics, though products tested on animals outside of the EU confines are still permitted for import and retail.
However, more brands than ever before, especially considering the overwhelming success and broadening of market that the all-natural, honestly-sourced facet of cosmetics has seen in the past few years, pride themselves on an adherence to cruelty-free standards.
The murky proceedings of cosmetics testing in the Chinese market go as such: unless beauty products undergo animal testing, they will not be viable for human use. L’Occitane and Caudalie, two established French companies that have been affected by the loss of their Leaping Bunny, released statements to the Daily Mail to assert that while none of their products are ever tested on animals, the bottom line of the conundrum is that if you as an internationally-distributed brand sell to China, the Chinese government will indeed subject those products to animal testing. This has led some companies, like Urban Decay, to withdraw from the Chinese market, while a number of other large and influential brands hold out hope that the country’s government will succumb to revising their practices by way of outside pressure.
Industry blog Cosmetics Design sheds some light on the troubling subject with news that scientists have been working to introduce testing alternatives in China to positive results. Dr. Brian Jones of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, who also happens to be one of the scientists on the project, said, “[The Chinese] are cautious and careful about wanting to make any changes … but I think when they see something that works well they act on it and do it quickly.” As for whether China will alter their position on the process or stand firmly where they are, the verdict is out, but if you notice the Leaping Bunny conspicuously absent from your favorite beauty product, don’t think that a fraudulent brand is behind the change. Just blame it on China.