Monday, May 13, 2013

When China gets in the way: Origins' cruelty-free problem

These are some of my favorite skincare products.

After trying lots of skincare products over the years, including some cruelty-free products, I tried Origins. The stuff was a little pricey, but within no time at all face was devoid of break-outs, and my skin has never looked so good. I have stuff for every level of facial care, plus skin cream for my hands, and makeup.

I love their products, they are natural, they work, you get free mini-facials in the stores, and they are environmentally-friendly.

But is it animal-friendly?

For the longest time, it was. And sometimes, it still is.

But then this happened: in March 2010, Estee Lauder, Origins parent company, began selling in China. And that includes the Dr. Andrew Weil's (the great bearded health guru himself) products.

Well, there's just one problem: China requires animal testing for some products, or at least some ingredients. The European Union banned cosmetic testing, and the US doesn't have a law either way.

If you haven't noticed though, companies, especially luxury brands, are very keen to market to China. While some companies have used the EU ban as a way to stop animal testing (like Shiseido), others are not willing to budge and miss out on a big market.

Here is what it says on the Origins website, buried:
"We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor do we ask others to test on our behalf, unless required by law."
If you go into the stores, I've never had a worker not tell me they are cruelty-free. And they may not... in America?

I asked Kim Paschen, a spokesperson for Leaping, about why Origins was not on the cruelty-free list. Here is another problem Origins has: Estee Lauder itself.
"Origins is actually owned by Estee Lauder and they are selling in China, which requires animal testing. Because the companies EL owns are not independent subsidiaries as in the case of L'Oreal/Urban Decay, we can't certify just Origins."
In other words, while Estee Lauder and Origins say they are committed to being cruelty-free, because they sell to China, where testing is required, they can't be. And they are not fighting those laws either.

The bottom line is, until companies start standing up to China, or someone doesn't change their policies on animal testing, nothing will get done.

In the meantime, I'm in a dilemma, and I'm sure I'm not alone: what do I switch to? Can I switch? I don't really know, but I'd like to start trying to.

Do you have a special skincare product that you use?


  1. I'm not sure what skin type you have, but Dr. Patricia Wexler products have worked well for me. I have combination skin with a goal of wrinkle reduction and prevention. These products are cruelty free and sold in some Bath & Body works and online through that store,, Vitacost and others. My skin has never felt better. I am replacing all my personal care and home care products with cruelty free versions and this has been a great find. I am now using their eye cream, MMIP cream, moisturizer, night cream and cleanser. Also, Shiseido and Jane Iredale are cruelty free and I've heard good things about them, but have not used them myself.

    1. I have combination. I can definitely check them out. Should I get the products now, or can I wait until I start to run low?

  2. I can recommend Paula's Choice, you can order samples from the site which is awesome. Kinda try before buying a full size. She has products for all skin concerns. Been my holy grail skin care line for about two years now! Paula's Choice has always been cruelty free and she recently became Leaping Bunny approved! :)

    1. Paula's choice is not cruelty free. They do not test but they do use some animal derived produces including milk. The Dairy industry is one of the most cruel. There are great products that use no animal ingredients, do not test or authorize third party tests or sell in China where testing is required of some ingredients. Make kind choices. It is easy when it comes to cosmetics. Paula's Choice is just not one of them.

  3. Best Moisturizer For Dry Skin - Soften rough and chapped skin of hands, feet and entire body staring from the first application of Elmore Glycerin Cream.

  4. I was an Origins enthusiast for years and was very disappointed when the company forwent their value and started shipping to China. I made the switch to Acure which is sold at Whole Foods or at I actually prefer this product over Origins which very much surprised me. It's all organic, cruelty-free, and priced more moderately than Origins. I use their skincare and haircare products and love them all.

  5. Same for me - very disappointing. I use Aesop which are cruelty free and don't use palm oil either in most of their products. Also Dr Hauscha is good and cruelty free and hopefully also Elemis and Neal's Yard Remedies (uk brands)

  6. Love this, so we are in march 2014, origins, mac and Bobbie brown are still testing on animals?

  7. I am getting really tired of all of the products out there STILL doing animal testing. I am on a total product cleanse trying to make sure I don't purchase anything from a company that does animal testing. This doesn't have to happen..and that companies like Origins try and justify ....shame on you! I thought Originals was animal cruelty free and I was wrong.

  8. Another loophole companies use to skirt the issue is they don't use suppliers that don't rest on animals. This way they can espouse how great they are bc they are cruelty free, but really aren't if suppliers are testing products before they get to them.

  9. Was looking to change to origins but just read this so thanks for putting it out there. My sister recently started using Aesop and I think I'd rather give them a go! Deseperate to make 100% sure products I buy are cruelty's not easy in terms of doing research and finding information...this is shameful especially in today's day and age. Beyond Sick of capitalism driving animal tested products.

    1. I know. Origins is still the best, I think. But I can't in good conscience use those products. Which is a shame.

      It's especially hard to do, being 100% cruelty-free. For instance, if you need prescription medications, it's pretty much impossible. And sadly I do. But I do my part, where I can.

      There are three apps that can help you find products. I talk about them here:


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