Is Charlotte Tilbury still Cruelty-free in 2020?

Charlotte Tilbury is a London based luxury makeup and skincare brand.

They have previously confirmed with EthicalPixie that they are Crueltyfree. Here’s the statement from their website:

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Ltd and our suppliers do not currently test our products or ingredients used in our products on animals for cosmetic purposes. In addition, we do not use third parties to carry out any of those tests.

Recently, we have heard the unfortunate news that Charlotte Tilbury had Pop Ups in Mainland China making them NOT Crueltyfree. I have heard contradicting statements from various well known Crueltyfree bloggers like Cruelty free Kitty & Logical Harmony. So, I decided to dig a little deeper and do my own research on this. So let’s take a look.

What’s the Problem?

Charlotte Tilbury’s products have been found to be sold in Mainland China. They haven’t been selling their products per say, but instead they had product samples for people to try out in stores.

As of 2019, they were partnering with Little B stores in Shanghai, China. Even though Charlotte Tilbury products are not available for purchase, the stores still stock inventory for testers and for clients use. In these stores, makeup is applied to the customers.

This means, they can still be subjected to post-market testing. In an event of a customer complaint, the Chinese authorities would still be able to remove Charlotte Tilbury products off the shelves and test on animals.

Why stock up testers?

As per China’s laws, most foreign cosmetics will end up being tested on animals through post-market animal testing practices. There has been a decline in post-market testing on animals in the recent past, but there’s still a small chance that animals could be subjected to tests during a customer complaint.

Most Cruelty-free brands remain to stay out of China due to this possibility.

Alternative Approach?

There is one other alternative approach which some CF brands take to still enter the Chinese market by bypassing the post-market animal testing, Cross-Border Shopping.

Through Cross-Border shopping, brands can sell their products online with no involvement of animal testing at any stage.

Cross-border shopping is huge in China and it’s growing exponentially %YoY. Chinese customers care about brand name and authenticity esp. when it comes to food and cosmetics. By shopping online, Chinese customers avoid customs duty taxes and any potential fakes or counterfeit products. This makes cross-border shopping super lucrative and very attractive esp. for luxury brands like Charlotte Tilbury.

LoopHole?

Charlotte Tilbury’s products are mostly makeup and as it is hard for customers in general to buy makeup without trying it out, they tried to use a loophole to increase their sales.

They partnered with Little B stores in China to do monthly pop-ups where customers can go and test out their products. As mentioned earlier, only testers were available at the pop-ups and the actual products will still have to be purchased online through cross-border shopping.

Evidence:

I was able to pull up some articles on this:

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 4.48.59 PM

Based on this website, you can clearly see that they had a monthly pop-up held at one of the LITTLE B stores in Shanghai from Dec 1, 2018 – Jan 4, 2019.

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 4.44.37 PM

Charlotte Tilbury’s Response

I reached out to Charlotte Tilbury’s customer support team to get some response from them on this. After multiple attempts, this is the response below is the response I got from them:

Hi Swetha,

 

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, together with our suppliers do not test our products or ingredients on animals.  We also do not use any third parties to carry any out any of those tests. Our products are available in China under the cross-border e-commerce model which allows the importation and sale of foreign cosmetic brands to Chinese consumers without pre-market approvals.

Post-market testing would only be required on the rare occurrence of a serious consumer safety concern. Charlotte Tilbury Beauty has worked closely with local advisors who have confirmed the brand should be notified of such a concern, in the first instance. We would then withdraw the product if needed, rather than have it be subject to any animal testing.

I emailed further to understand their status on the pop-ups – if the pop-ups still exist. I wanted to understand if they were aware of all the post market testing laws, and what they plan to do. But I got no further response.

Chat with Logical Harmony

Apart from this, I also had a wonderful chat with Logical Harmony. I really appreciate how patient she was and how kindly she responded to all my questions.

She mentioned that she talked to the brand about this back in December after the photo of the displays first appeared and they actually told her that they did not realize these samples would put them at a risk of post-market animal testing as the actual products were sold through e-commerce(which doesn’t require animal testing). They also mentioned that the pop-up was just a holiday pop-up and they do not plan on doing it this year 2020. 

Full response below:

Screenshot_20200307-132544.png

If this was really the case, I just wish they responded to me answering my questions when I tried to contact them the first time.🤷🏻‍

Conclusion

According to ETHICAL PIXIE standards and based on all the facts above, Charlotte Tilbury is now in the GREY area of Ethical Pixie’s lists.

  1. Based on what I heard from Logical Harmony, if they realized that display samples could put them at risk and vow to not continue having these pop-ups in mainland China, it will be added back to the Cruelty-free lists.
  2. If they ignore the risks of post-market animal testing on products and continue to do this, then will NOT be Cruelty-free anymore.

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