MAC has always been one of the most philanthropic beauty brands. MAC Aids Fund has raised over $450 million to support individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and Ru Paul and k. d. Lang were among the first spokespersons. However, the good vibes from consumers and animal rights groups ended when MAC went to China.
No Animal Testing
It states on the MAC website that "MAC does not test on animals. We do not own any animal testing facilities, and we never ask others to test on animals for us." Additionally MAC says; "We use human volunteers, and we conduct or commission in vitro testing."
Changes With China Expansion
In the beginning, MAC was known for being vehemently against animal testing. But in 2005, when they decided to expand into China's $30 billion cosmetics market, things got a bit trickier.
When MAC took their cosmetics to China, they had to comply with China's requirement for animal testing and pay for the testing before they could get a permit to sell cosmetics. So, while MAC employees were not doing the animal testing, they had to allow their prodducts to be tested on animals from a third party group before they could be sold in China.
Leading From Within or Complicit?
MAC bowed to China and agreed that, even though the cosmetics had already been in vitro tested in America, they would be retested on animals in China.
They defended the action by saying they would work from within to advance non-animal testing methods. However, that rationale didn't wash with many of their fans, who thought they were complicit in perpetuating animal tests and believed that had they chosen not to sell MAC Cosmetics in China the government would have gotten the message loud and clear. A backlash began.
The Institute of In Vitro Sciences
Eventually, The Institute of In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a nonprofit research and testing laboratory, partnered with Estée Lauder (MAC's parent company) and other organizations to help China embrace in vitro tests.
Advances in Non-Animal Testing
MAC entered China in 2005. In 2014, China's National Institutes of Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) signed a memorandum with IIVS, in which NIFDC agreed to work with IIVS on an annual training workshop. In late 2016 the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) approved the first contemporary non-animal testing method that will be used for safety tests for cosmetics. However, as of March 2018 China has still not agreed to be part of a global ban on animal testing.