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Urban Decay & China Press Release

This is the press release from Urban Decay‘s website.

Urban Decay is going to sell our products in China. Because of China’s policies on animal testing, we know that this will not be a popular decision with some of our loyal customers. But the decision is a thoughtful one.

For 16 years, we have been committed to two key causes: women’s rights, and the fight against animal testing. Our dedication to those causes will not waver.

For those of you unfamiliar with China’s policies, the sticking point is this: the Chinese government reserves the right to conduct animal testing with cosmetic products before the products are approved for use by Chinese citizens. The government has not told us if they have exercised this right with our products. So, our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products. Do we like China’s policies? No…and that is really the point. Going into China was a huge decision for Urban Decay. But, we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.

When we were considering expanding into China, a group of marketing consultants told us to remove the section of our company history that describes our crusade against animal testing. “It doesn’t mean anything to the Chinese beauty customer,” they said. Of course, we refused. Our “no animal testing” policy is part of who we are, and has been since day one. The news that animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer was one of the biggest factors in our decision to go there. During Urban Decay’s infancy, we worked hard to inform consumers about animal rights in the United States and Europe. The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.

We also hope to shed some light on women’s rights issues in China. As a company that caters to a female customer, this is extremely important to us. For one thing, going into China is a way for us to advance women into important professional positions. We will help grow the cosmetics industry, which primarily employs and creates career paths for women. Although workers’ employment rights are a relatively new concept there, progress has been made partially because of pressure from businesses, consumers, and advocacy groups from other countries. Based on this, our belief is that both an outside force and inside pressure for change can result in helping transform both the importance of women and animal testing policies in China. And more importantly, we hope to influence the perspective of the citizens on both of these issues.

If we don’t go to China, other companies without our beliefs will, and the culture will never change. We want to encourage a culture of consumers who care enough to buy cruelty-free products, and who view professional women as role models who influence their lives on a daily basis.

Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China. We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world… even if it is one eye shadow at a time! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t our style. We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.

Any editors or advocacy groups interested in interviews with Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir may contact us at

For any advocates or Urban Decay fans interested, Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir will host a live chat in 2 weeks to answer questions about our entry into China. Please check back to this page for a confirmed day and time.

As you know, I’ve become quite fond of Urban Decay. So I really want to believe UD when they say that they are doing this for women’s rights and animal rights, because they truly do have a track record to support that statement. I even think that with as different as China can be compared to the USA, they’re probably right that change will have to come from within, rather than people in other countries trying to preach their beliefs to China from outside without having a cultural understanding.

But a big part of me is afraid that all mainstream companies will be doing this, or already are doing this and that pretty soon the only companies left that will be safe to buy from are Indie companies (such as BftE, Fyrinnae, Makeup Geek, Sugarpill, Evil Shades, Morgana Cryptoria, Cult Nails, Kiss My Sass, Dorian & Dahl, etc).

I’ve purchased a lot of products from Urban Decay. I love their quality, and I especially love their new formula. I will be watching this situation closely.

I really applaud Urban Decay for being open about this, as opposed to the way certain other big mainstream companies hid it.

China is very different culturally from the USA. You can’t go in there armed with the same FAQs and campaigns that you can in the USA and expect them to work. You need a Cultural Anthropologist or an Expert who understands their culture to find the best way to work with them. It really needs cultural relativism. China’s beliefs and values are very different from our own. (and there is my little nod to my Anthropology degree).

What do you think of Urban Decay’s press statement?

Edit: Christine from Temptalia did a Q & A with UD. You may find the answers informative.

Edit: Please read my follow up post at My Beauty Bunny. I am extremely disappointed in UD at this point and I feel stupid for having even considered that what they said may be true. The current evidence from the Q & A shows that UD does not have an understanding of Chinese culture or what it will take to influence the Chinese government. The fact that they removed this original press release is awful.

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