The cruelty free status of Charlotte Tilbury is possibly one of the most confusing of all beauty brands.
As a rule, Charlotte Tilbury has always paved the way for luxury, high end makeup that is ethical and cruelty free.
However, in January 2020 it was discovered that Charlotte Tilbury makeup samples were available in pop-up stores in China.
At the time, China had a law that meant that any makeup or cosmetics sold in their country had to undergo animal testing.
Now, what Charlotte Tilbury did that was so innovative (albeit very confusing), was not allow their products to actually be sold in China.
Instead, they let customers try out the products and then directed them to their website where they could purchase the products online for delivery.
They did this by partnering with a Chinese beauty store, Little B, where customers to that store would be able to have the makeup applied on them to test it out.
Whilst mainland China made it a legal requirement for any products being sold in their stores to be tested on animals, they do not have that same law for cosmetics bought online.
Charlotte Tilbury felt that they had thus found a way around this testing, allowing customers to try before they buy and encouraging more people from mainland China to order their products online.
However, there was one snag in this system, and that was the fact that any tester products that were available in China may also be subjected to that same legal requirement.
This meant that there was a possibility that, in order for Charlotte Tilbury products to be available for testers, they would have needed to have undergone animal testing.
This loophole, whilst positive in the sense that a great cruelty free company may be able to open themselves up to the Chinese market, created these small snags.
The main snag was that, if any customer had an issue with the Charlotte Tilbury products, then by law, China may have to test the products themselves.
This was likely to be on animals.
Upon being made aware of this, Charlotte Tilbury initially pulled all of their products from China, thus reinstating their status as cruelty free.
However, at the end of 2020, it was reported that Charlotte Tilbury had decided to set up the pop-up shop again, letting Chinese customers test their products and encouraging them to buy online.
This has made it very difficult to ascertain the true cruelty free status of Charlotte Tilbury, especially since the laws in China have now been made even murkier with the recent news that animal testing is no longer a legal requirement.
This means that pre market animal testing is no longer needed.
However, there is an exception for post market animal testing, where, if a consumer has a serious issue with the safety of a product, China can then test that product on animals.
As it stands, the cruelty free status of Charlotte Tilbury is uncertain, therefore, if you want to be totally sure, we would recommend that you avoid the brand until there is more clarity.
Does Charlotte Tilbury test on animals?
Charlotte Tilbury’s animal testing status is somewhat of a gray area, leading us to classify them as not cruelty free at the moment.
Charlotte Tilbury does not test on animals themselves.
They try to lead the way against animal testing and do not test any of their products at any stage in the production, on animals.
Until recently, their animal testing status was solid, and you could buy Charlotte Tilbury products safe in the knowledge that they were not tested on animals.
However, 2020 brought news of Charlotte Tilbury’s involvement in China.
They found a loophole that meant that they could make testers and trials of their products available for consumers and then direct them to buy their products online, thus bypassing the animal testing laws that were in place at the time.
The loophole found by Charlotte Tilbury has been criticized for many reasons.
Whilst the stocking of testers and trial samples in the Chinese store, Little B, does not automatically mean that they will be tested on animals, the chance is still there.
When a company sells their products in mainland China, as a physical product in stores, then they may well be subjected to pre and post market animal testing.
When a product is sold in China online there is no law that says they must be tested on animals, therefore allowing brands to safely sell in China whilst still maintaining their cruelty free status.
Until 2020, this is what Charlotte Tilbury did.
The providing of testers and samples does not mean that they will definitely be subject to testing.
In fact, the chances are tremendously low.
However, the risk is still there due to the fact that China has a law that any product that raises safety concerns can be tested on animals post market.
This means that, theoretically, if a customer at Little B tried a Charlotte Tilbury product sample and had a reaction, they could complain.
Because of this complaint, the government would need to test the safety of that product. The testing would most likely be done on animals.
Whilst the chance is slim, the risk is still there.
Many cruelty free shoppers will, quite rightly, refuse to support a brand that allows even this small risk of animal testing, especially since there is no need for them to do it.
The thing that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many cruelty free consumers is that Charlotte Tilbury would have had to agree to China’s post market testing laws, knowing that the products may well be tested on animals, in order to allow these Charlotte Tilbury pop ups in Little B stores.
Once loyal buyers of the brand were let down by this clear choice of profit over ethics from a brand that was, at one time, a popular luxury cruelty free choice.
Is Charlotte Tilbury vegan?
Charlotte Tilbury does offer some vegan products.
In fact, there are over 100 products on the Charlotte Tilbury website that are specified as being vegan friendly, and in their FAQ section on the website, you can find all of their vegan products in one place.
There are, of course, many products that they sell which are not vegan, but using the vegan tab will help you to sift through what is and isn’t safe for vegans, so you can feel sure that the product you buy will be suitable for you.
However, in our opinion, in order for a brand to be truly safe and suitable for vegan customers, they need to be totally and completely cruelty free.
As you will know from the previous questions in this article, the cruelty free status of Charlotte Tilbury presents us with a sort of ‘gray area’.
This gray area comes as a result of their involvement in China where they provide testers and samples for Chinese customers to try before they buy.
As you will know, in theory, this can be seen as a loophole.
However, because of China’s strict post market rules, Charlotte Tilbury cosmetics are at risk of being recalled by the Chinese government for testing, should any safety concerns arise from them.
This testing could possibly be done on animals. This is, of course, rare, with the chances being very slim.
However, even with a slim chance, the risk is still there, leading them to lose their status as a cruelty free brand.
Of course, depending on how strictly you assess cruelty free status, you may well still choose to use Charlotte Tilbury cosmetics.
However, in our opinion, if any brand chooses to risk animal testing, even if the chances are extremely slim, as is the case for Charlotte Tilbury, they should no longer be deserving of cruelty free status.
With this in mind, whilst Charlotte Tilbury may well offer an array of products that are traditionally vegan in the sense that they do not use animal products in their formulation, due to their ‘gray area’ when it comes to animal testing and cruelty free, we do not think that they can be truly classed as a vegan beauty and skincare brand.
Depending on how strictly vegan you are and how you view cruelty free status, you may well choose to accept this risk.
However, we truly feel that the risk is not worth it, especially when they operated for so long without this risk.
They have chosen the possibility of profit from the Chinese market over ethics, and thus, they cannot truly be seen as a vegan makeup brand in our eyes.
Therefore, if you are looking for a vegan and cruelty free brand, we think you should avoid Charlotte Tilbury, at least until we have ascertained more information about their products in China.
If we find that they have removed their testers from Chinese pop up shops, or China changes the laws regarding post market testing, we will reassess Charlotte Tilbury’s cruelty free and vegan status and remove them from the gray area.