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Ricky Gervais Raps Cosmetics Companies for Testing on Animals and Abandoning Ethics to Sell Products in China

“Help HSI and The HSUS achieve a world where no animal has to suffer and die for the sake of cosmetics”

Humane Society International

  • Guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and rats are commonly used in cosmetic tests. iStockphoto.com

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais lashed out against cosmetics companies that put profit before compassion and test on animals to sell their products in China, where the practice often is required by law. Gervais spoke out in support of Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States’ Be Cruelty-Free campaign, which is working around the world to end cosmetics animal testing once and for all.

A number of once cruelty-free companies with operations in or that export to China, including Yves Rocher, L’Occitane, Mary Kay and Caudalie, were recently and very publicly removed from the internationally recognised Leaping Bunny.org list of cruelty-free companies. Ditching ethics for profits, Gervais said, is unacceptable. 

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“Like me, most people will be shocked to learn that testing cosmetics on animals is often still a legal requirement in China,” Gervais said. “By law, rabbits must have cosmetic chemicals dripped in their eyes or spread over their sensitive skin, causing sores and bleeding. It makes me really angry that this is still going on, and it makes me particularly angry that some previously cruelty-free companies are abandoning their principles and returning to animal testing in order to profit from the Chinese market.”

“China's cosmetics market is worth billions of dollars and virtually every major global cosmetic company is getting a piece of the action,” he continued. “It remains one of the few countries in the world to insist on animal testing, so companies manufacturing there have made the very clear choice to test lipsticks and shampoo on animals to increase their profit margins.”

Gervais also praised global brand Urban Decay for its recent decision not to start selling its products in China, following pleas from animal welfare groups and ethical consumers. Urban Decay was temporarily removed from the Leaping Bunny.org cruelty-free list endorsed by HSI and The HSUS, but promptly reinstated following its compassionate decision.  

“Ethical principles shouldn’t be up for sale,” Gervais said. “You cannot put a price on morality and compassion. So I say ‘congratulations’ to Urban Decay, a massive cosmetics brand that recently made a very public U-turn when it realised its plans to start selling in China would have meant unnecessary suffering for hundreds of animals. In deciding against selling in China, Urban Decay has sent a very powerful message to the rest of the industry — you don’t have to sell your soul in order to be a globally successful cosmetics brand. I applaud them for that and I urge other companies to follow their compassionate example.”

On a positive note, there are signs China might reconsider some of its animal testing requirements for cosmetics. A Europe-wide ban on selling newly animal-tested cosmetics due in 2013 has spurred Chinese regulators’ interest in non-animal test methods.

“There is also hope on the horizon in China,” Gervais acknowledged. “Real progress is being made with getting advanced non-animal test methods accepted, and I’m sure that before too long, China will be a world leader in humane alternative techniques. But it’s no coincidence that this new energy towards alternatives has happened under the spotlight of consumer criticism. Compassionate consumers have a powerful voice and we can speak up for those animals in labs who cannot be heard. So make your voice count, sign the Be Cruelty-Free pledge and help Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States achieve a world where no animal has to suffer and die for the sake of cosmetics.”

Sign the Be Cruelty-Free pledge at humanesociety.org/becrueltyfree and visit leapingbunny.org to download a global guide to cruelty-free products.

Media contact:

Rebecca Basu, 301-258-3152, rbasu@humanesociety.org


For a high-resolution photograph of Ricky wearing HSI’s End Animal Testing ‘tattoo’ contact Rebecca Basu.

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