NARS: The Artistry of Cruelty

The ethical stance of makeup and personal hygiene companies is a major selling point for people who look for the Leaping Bunny and other seals that certify “animal friendly” and “cruelty free” before they buy. NARS Cosmetics has long been known to be a company that rejects animal testing – they have used this as an effective marketing tool – and the founder, make-up artist and photographer François Nars, is rumored to be vegan. Though NARS’ parent company Shiseido is itself complicit in animal testing, NARS remained proudly unblemished. So we were all unpleasantly shocked and appalled when we caught the news spreading like wildfire through the interwebs: NARS Cosmetics has made the decision to ditch its ethics and go to the dark side. That doesn’t mean that they, in some boardroom meeting in Hell, suddenly decided they were gonna hire a bunch of evil scientists, get some bunnies from a breeder specializing in animals destined to die in laboratories, and start pouring undiluted chemicals in their eyes. No, it means they decided to start selling their products in China

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to being an extra super profitable cruelty-free company these days, perhaps the only one given that the European Union and New Zealand have banned the practice of testing products on animals and the United States and Japan do not require it, is that when you enter the Chinese market, you are essentially rabbits[1]agreeing to have your products go through testing on animals. Although China is making progress in recognizing and using alternative testing methods that harm no one, they still require animal-based tests for products imported into their country as well as for products pulled randomly off of store shelves for “confirmatory” animal testing. China is a huge and still not completely tapped out market, and we all know that when it comes to the men in suits that run most corporations, the yuan speaks louder than the heart.

If you think cosmetic testing on animals is benign, that it really only involves applying a little lip gloss to bunny lips and seeing how it goes, you are in for another shock. All bad, there are many kinds of animal tests; one test is the LD50 which refers to determining the amount of a chemical which kills 50% of the dosed animals, another is the Draize test wherein a substance is applied to the eye or skin of a conscious animal. When rabbits, who have been placed in restraints, are undergoing eye tests, clips are placed on their eyelids to hold them open, sometimes for several days. They often suffer intense burning, itching and pain. Many develop dangerous infections and go blind. When skin corrosivity or irritation is being tested, a substance is applied to the animal’s shaved skin to see what damage, itching, inflammation, or swelling occurs. Again the animal is in restraints and conscious. In toxicity tests, such as in carcinogenicity studies, the animals may be dosed 24/7 for up to two years with no recovery periods. After dead2[1]tests are completed the animals are often “disposed of”. So the reality is that the animals – the bunnies, the mice, the ratties, the kitties, and the doggos (all much like the ones living with you in your own home and perhaps sitting on your keyboard as you read this) are doomed by the testing industry to short lives of nonstop suffering.

In spite of surely knowing what animal testing entails and saying they are adamantly opposed, the company nonetheless decided to go for it and enter the Chinese market. Immediate condemnation rained down across all social platforms with consumers pledging to boycott and petitions asking that NARS reconsider. Vegan Kat Von D,whose own company does not test on animals, was one of the first to lash out at NARS,calling their decision“a copout” and their excuse“complete bullshit”.  And what was the excuse? On Instagram, claiming “we hear you” in response to the onslaught of flak they were taking, NARS answered with the remarkably tone deaf, condescending, as well as callous, cold-blooded, coldhearted, hard-hearted, heartless, inhumane, unfeeling, and unsympathetic (we decided that a good deal of the Merriam-Webster antonyms to “empathetic” work in describing the NARS response) statement: “We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region (flabbergasted italics ours).” Who exactly did they hear? Folks who, when weighing the value of a living, breathing, feeling being against a tube of face paint go, “Oh, for sure! Stick it to the bunny, gimme that lipstick!”?

To highlight the fuckedupness of the whole situation, one of the quirks of the Chinese animal testing laws is that, for the most part, domestically manufactured non special–use cosmetics – apart from the random spot checks mentioned above – do not have to be subjected to animal testing. Which means NARS is not only disregarding blinded bunnies but, by entering the Chinese market, NARS is competing with and taking sales away from companies which don’t test on animals thereby compounding their own original crime against our fellow earthlings in lab cages. Plus China has been developing their own visions of beauty and artistry about a zillion years longer and more deeply than NARS has.

Of course what we would really like is for NARS to shake themselves out of this money lust trance they are in, find their conscience and withdraw from the Chinese market until such time as it decides to get with the 20476121_10212318022518702_1122471153271666073_n[1]world–wide move towards using testing methods that are more effective and do not make rabbits cry, that do not use animals at all. Failing that, we hope that a strong push by both consumers and activists against all companies who abandon their concern for animals in labs, who choose to worship at the altar of the Big Buck, will make others contemplating resuming animal testing or entering the Chinese market give it another think.
So NARS, we are not going to be buying your products anymore, choosing instead ones that have bunnies leaping on their packaging not bunnies cringing in terror in labs. We are going to be educating folks about who you are and what you do, we are going to be boycotting and encouraging others to do the same, we are going to be commenting on social media, posting pictures of what animals testing really looks like, we will be hashtagging #NARScruelty, and we will be standing outside your store picketing. We are going to raise our voices, but until you and others like you stop the madness, nothing will drown out the screams of the bunnies.