Urban Decay Entering the Chinese Market: My Two Cents’ Worth

by Roxanne C.

Just this Wednesday, a piece of news caught the beauty world by storm. Urban Decay, a beauty brand that most makeup fanatics and novices alike love, is moving into the Chinese market. Yes, you read that right. They are going to be selling their products in China. Now what’s the problem with that?


Urban Decay, where are you going with this?


For the uninitiated, you can read the press release from Urban Decay here on Temptalia. Basically, the problem is a conflict of interest. As we all know, Urban Decay is a brand that prides itself for not carrying out animal testing. Their range of cosmetics is totally vegan and cruelty-free, while tools and accessories are made from synthetic materials (eg. bristles on brushes). China, on the other hand, tests all cosmetics on animals before they are approved for sale in the country. This means that all Urban Decay products entering China will be tested on animals prior to being sold on shelves.


First of all, I really do not understand why Urban Decay wants to sell their products in China. As they have said themselves, “…animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer…” and I can’t agree more. Maybe I’m being cynical here but I doubt one foreign beauty company, which is relatively unheard of in Chinese lands, can make such a huge change in the way the Chinese look at animal testing and cosmetic products. Also, I can tell you that the Chinese really just don’t give a damn about whether a cosmetic product is cruelty-free. They really don’t! As long as the brand sells, ultimately, that’s all that matters. This is the land of sharks’ fins and bear bile farming we’re talking about. Who hasn’t heard about the melamine-tainted milk powder back in 2008, the Chinese girls crushing innocent rabbits for entertainment in 2010 and the recent dead powdered babies pills they sold to South Korea? Those are just the tip of the ice berg. There are many more such incidences but people tend to forget these ever happened. The thing is, they won’t stop happening.


As quoted from the press release, Urban Decay has also said that it hopes to “shed some light on women’s rights issues in China.” I want to ask: Why China? Why not some other place like Japan, where women’s rights is also an issue? Or actually, in any other country (except the war-torn ones) for that matter, since gender discrimination is so prevalent all around the world? My guess is that there are other honest reasons that Urban Decay is not revealing. Perhaps the cheap labour, for we cannot deny that even if they offer employment to women in China, it is still more economically viable (i.e. cheaper) than hiring women in America? Or maybe they’d like to use China as a base to reach out to more Asian consumers? Is it a potential financial growth catalyst? I really don’t know and I’m not accusing them of anything. After all, I still love Urban Decay and I really wish they hadn’t decided to enter the Chinese market.


I also do not see why there is a need for animal testing on Urban Decay products when the label has already been in the global market for years and yet experience no allegations on harmful health effects from consumers using their products. Perhaps China could consider an adjustment to the rule and make it such that companies whose products have been proven to be safe for humans need not require further animal testing.


Moving into the Chinese market is a bold move by Urban Decay. A very bold move. In fact, it’s almost treacherous, entering into an economy that’s fuelled solely by monetary gains. And not to mention, the brand’s been since removed from PETA’s list of cruelty-free companies. I suppose this is what losing an arm and a leg means, for those of us who are familiar with the term.


However, I remain a loyal fan of the brand and will support their decision for now and see how things turn out. I really hope Urban Decay achieves what it aims to with this step and if it does, that would be awesome. I believe that even just with this recent news, more people around the world have become more aware of animal testing in the beauty industry. It’s a big milestone to overcome but I hope that fans of the brand will continue to support its cause and that the Chinese people will be receptive of the values and message that Urban Decay stands for.


An afterthought: What would Urban Decay’s Mandarin name be?




Personalised tools via A Beautiful Mess.



Image credits: A Damsel’s Odyssey


{*Edit: Urban Decay has since decided not to go into China. You can read their press statement on the issue here on Temptalia.}


wickeRmoss June 8, 2012 - 11:59 pm

we share the same views somehow…I feel like they should have chosen Japan more!
My recent post Dirty New Comer?! See who's painting the town with their DIRTY WORKS this June from VANITY TROVE!

Cori October 20, 2012 - 6:34 pm

Thanks for shedding some light on the subject.. I would never have known! I also had no idea ALL Chinese cosmetics are tested on animals, which is important for me because I do like some asian cosmetics, mostly BB creams and mascaras. It's very disappointing that Urban Decay is no longer cruelty-free.

lacedivory86 October 20, 2012 - 7:57 pm

Hello Cori!

Yeah, I was not very happy when they said they wanted to sell their products in China! But they have since decided not to do so, and I have added that part into this entry as well. Sorry for not having added it in earlier! So now, Urban Decay is still cruelty-free! 🙂


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