In the words of Charlie Brown, “AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Shortly after starting my cruelty free research, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Revlon did not test on animals. They were on PETA’s “Do Not Test” list and I found several different websites and blogs that posted they were cruelty free; I verified this information through their website, including a live chat with a customer service rep who assured me that, “All ingredients used by Revlon and all products manufactured and sold by Revlon comply with both U.S. and European Union laws and regulations, including full compliance with all Europe-wide bans on testing of cosmetics and cosmetics ingredients using animals, which are part of the European Cosmetics Directive. Revlon has long been an industry leader in the elimination of animal testing. In 1986, Revlon was the first beauty products manufacturer to close down its animal testing facilities completely. In addition, Revlon holds its suppliers of ingredients and components to the same standards. All chemical supplier purchase orders require confirmation by the supplier that it does not perform animal testing on materials supplied.” What a revelation! How glorious! So much information, right there at my fingertips!
Fast forward a couple months and today, I received an email from the Leaping Bunny (I get email alerts from them; you can sign up too at www.mybeautybunny.com )that Revlon is conducting third party animal testing (see full blog post here; note the quote by the Revlon founder - interesting). In my more recent research, I have been asking that question specifically, but Revlon was among my early research and, partly from my inexperience and partly from the seemingly all-inclusive response given to me above, I didn’t specifically ask about third party testing. I am trying to get more specific proof that Revlon is indeed conducting third party testing, but in the meantime, PETA and the Leaping Bunny are well-trusted organizations and if they now both say Revlon is a [dirty, rotten] company that allows animal testing, then it’s generally safe to assume it’s true.
What. A. BUMMER.
This is so disheartening to me. While I don’t tend to use any Revlon makeup products anymore, they used to a make a Luxurious Lengths mascara that I LOVED, and I even just encouraged my sister to purchase a Revlon mascara, based on the fact that it was a cheaply priced, drugstore/Walmart available brand and that it was cruelty free. It was so nice to feel like I had Revlon in my back pocket as a widely available, bargain priced option. I was so proud of them because, despite being such a large company and offering lower priced products, I thought they still managed to be progressive and eliminate animal testing, despite it being an (allegedly) easier and cheaper alternative. I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy yanks the football away at the last second.
After reading today’s LB blog post, I put some more effort into my Revlon research. Revlon is indeed now on PETA’s “Tests on Animals” list. The online Revlon CSR gave me the same exact statement I got from them in March. After reading through it veeeeeerrrrrryyyyyy carefully many, many times, I am disturbed to realize that this is one of the most deceptive animal testing policy statements I have encountered. I broke it down by section and realized just how many loopholes they’ve provided themselves. My full point by point analysis is below but this also made me realize that as careful as I’ve come to be about interpreting these statements, it’s so easy to be misled.
I’m starting to become so disillusioned by big corporations. Yes, I believe in a capitalistic society but I also believe that America is a place where you stand up for what’s right and for your beliefs. End of story. It’s evident that so many companies believe in profits. That in and of itself doesn’t make a company inherently evil, but when there ARE alternatives, it’s so sickening to think that people are still OK with the torture and experimentation of animals for the sake of an increased profit margin, all the while creating images of themselves as trustworthy, seemingly transparent, friendly, ethical, and responsible (generalizations). I’m sure I’ll explore this issue more in my blog; I recognize that it’s so complex and not at all a black-and-white, easily navigable topic.
But, long story short – like Lucy with her sneaky football move, Revlon is officially on my shit list.
I contacted them (7/12/12) through the live chat feature on their website and below is our interaction with my side by side analysis [my comments in bracketed italics]. I KNOW I’m being picky here, but I think that’s the point (I feel like to slip through the loopholes, they would say, a la Marshall on HIMYM, “LAWYERED!”).
Carolyn: Does Revlon contract for third party animal testing on its products or ingredients?
** Thank you for waiting. You are number 1 in line.
Thank you for waiting. You are now chatting with Kelley
Kelley: I'll be happy to help you.
Kelley: Revlon is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations related to animal testing. All ingredients used by Revlon and all products manufactured and sold by Revlon comply with both U.S. and European Union laws and regulations, including full compliance with all Europe-wide bans on testing of cosmetics and cosmetics ingredients using animals, which are part of the European Cosmetics Directive. [To my knowledge, the ban is not fully effective until March 2013, so this likely leaves a loophole; this statement indicates their products are not tested on animals due to a European ban, but if that ban is not actually being fully implemented yet, they can’t be in violation of it. Sneaky, sneaky.]
Revlon has long been an industry leader in the elimination of animal testing. In 1986, Revlon was the first beauty products manufacturer to close down its animal testing facilities completely. [Obvious loophole for third party testing here.] In addition, Revlon holds its suppliers of ingredients and components to the same standards. [This is not meant to be sarcastic, but literally, specifically what standards?] All chemical supplier purchase orders require confirmation by the supplier that it does not perform animal testing on materials supplied. [The specification of “chemical supplier purchase orders” could leave a potential loophole. What other suppliers, other than chemicals, are allowed to do animal testing?]
To assure product safety, Revlon relies on the judgment of pharmacologic, toxicologic and medical experts, non-animal alternative test methods and the established safety of formulations and ingredients. [Do not specifically state that they do not also use animal tests.] Revlon is committed to providing safe and effective products and will continue to comply with all government laws and regulations necessary to assure the quality, safety and efficacy of its products. [Leaves themselves open to performing animal tests because of government regulations, either now or in the future.]
Carolyn: I saw that Revlon is now on PETA's list of companies that test on animals; can you please explain why your cruelty free status has changed?
Kelley: This statement is the only information available. [It’s frustrating that they cannot/will not deviate from their set “script” to address a specific concern.]
Carolyn: So you can confirm that Revlon does not solicit outside companies to perform animal testing on its behalf?
Kelley: I will be happy to resend you our statement but this is the only information I have available at this time. [Again, she’s not answering my specific question because of having to stick to the “script” but the fact that they don’t come out and simply state, “We don’t test on animals for any reason, we don’t use any ingredients tested on animals for any reason, and we don’t solicit or allow anyone to test on animals on our behalf for any reason” speaks volumes.]