When I think of really flattering makeup, I always think of Charlotte Tilbury's work - the queen of pinks, bronzes and celebrity-inspired lipstick shades, I feel like most people could pick up some signature CT products and feel happy and glowy after applying it.
Encased in gold and with a hint of old Hollywood glamour, it was always such a feel-good brand - until recently. Just over the last few days, several of the go-to cruelty-free beauty websites have broken the news that Charlotte Tilbury has been removed from their cruelty-free lists, which upset a decent chunk of their loyal client based who all swarmed to the brand's socials to express their discontent.
So, what happened? People had been reporting sightings of Charlotte Tilbury pop-ups and collaborations in China, a country where animal testing is required by law for all imported cosmetics. The team at Free the Bunnies deep-dived into this and after a bit of back and forth, received an email response from the CT team:
"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...we would then withdraw the product if needed, rather than have it be subject to any animal testing."
Sounds pretty good, right? It's not exactly so clean cut - with this information, as noted by Cruelty-Free Kitty:
"In the event of a customer complaint, the Chinese authorities would be able to test Charlotte Tilbury products on animals."
While it's unlikely that this sequence of events will happen, the choice to open up these commercials channels in China over sticking to their cruelty-free status has had a marked impact on customers who enjoy buying from this brand. There's enough of a grey area now that these cruelty-free beauty reporting sites aren't taking the risk in promoting Charlotte Tilbury any longer.
Although the whole line wasn't vegan, there was a huge amount of options available that were both cruelty-free and vegan, so it is a shame to feel like there's now a question mark over the direction that Charlotte Tilbury will move in future.
It's interesting to see brands shift to selling in China with the current animal testing laws, in a time when customers are increasingly vocal about the social and ethical responsibilities that they want these brands to uphold, and you have to wonder whether the choice will be worth it for CT.