MAC Cosmetics has been a cult classic in the makeup industry for decades. The brand has been a staple for many, with a reputation for superior quality products. But when it comes to the brand's cruelty-free and vegan policies, we’re still waiting for some innovation.
MAC Cosmetics is not 100% cruelty-free or vegan, as its products are sold where animal testing is required by law. It also cannot be considered vegan as it is not cruelty-free.
The brand was founded in 1984, and thanks to Madonna wearing one of the signature lipsticks in the late 80s, MAC Cosmetics took off.
Today MAC Cosmetics is known for high-quality and innovative formulas that are rich in pigment and are long-wearing. And while they are mostly known for their makeup, the brand also sells skincare!
The brand has managed to stay relevant for so long because they have evolved with the times and have strong core values.
It’s unfortunate, however, that this does not apply to their cruelty-free and vegan policies. After almost 40 years, we still have not seen any real improvement.
However, if you are looking for alternatives to MAC Cosmetics in the same price range with the same quality, click here.
MAC Cosmetics Ethical Overview
MAC Cosmetics is Not Cruelty-Free
Test any of its products or ingredients on animals
Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain
Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.
MAC Cosmetics can’t be considered cruelty-free while the brand continues to sell products in mainland China.
Further, MAC Cosmetics is owned by Estée Lauder, which is also not cruelty-free for the same reason – allowing animal testing when required by law.
Does MAC Cosmetics Test on Animals?
MAC Cosmetics has always claimed to be against animal testing, partnering with IIVS (Institute For In Vitro Sciences) to find non-animal testing methods worldwide.
But this does not change the fact that MAC Cosmetics has been selling in traditional stores in China for over a decade, and they do not intend to pull out.
The brand has made a statement saying that because they love their fans, they do not want ever to exclude them anywhere.
Claiming to be against animal testing but continuing to allow it to happen makes any of their cruelty-free claims misleading.
What Is MAC Cosmetics Cruelty-Free Status in 2023?
Here is a screenshot of MAC Cosmetics’ official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:
MAC Cosmetics Has No Cruelty-Free Certification
Without a solid cruelty-free policy, MAC Cosmetics won’t get a certification from a reputable organization.
While the brand continues to sell in mainland China, it’s impossible to consider it cruelty-free.
If you’re looking for a real cruelty-free brand, you always want to look out for certification to prove it.
Leaping Bunny certification proves that:
MAC Cosmetics Is Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law
MAC Cosmetics distributes its products in China, where animal testing on cosmetics is required as products arrive at the border.
China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used per year.
However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes.
Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?
MAC Cosmetics is Not Vegan
MAC Cosmetics doesn’t claim to have vegan products, but a few are free from animal-derived ingredients.
These products, however, cannot be considered vegan because the brand is not cruelty-free.
Does it have products that are free of animal-derived ingredients? Yes.
Are these products considered holistically vegan? Not in our opinion.
Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that MAC Cosmetics uses are: beeswax, lanolin, squalane, carmine, and glucosamine
Vegan Alternatives to MAC Cosmetics
$2 - $25
$14 - $45
$14 - $17
$15 - $240
PETA, Leaping Bunny
$15 - $40
MAC Cosmetics is Not Natural or Organic
MAC Cosmetics doesn’t advertise itself as natural or organic but rather as a brand in pursuit of high-performance and skin-loving formulas.
When it comes to natural ingredients, MAC Cosmetics has its fair share of ingredients like jojoba oil, chamomile, red algae extract, and more.
But these ingredients aren’t prioritized in each product; most are synthetic.
All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. MAC Cosmetics is no exception but chooses to use better or clean synthetics.
If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it means it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.
MAC Cosmetics Has An 82 – 100% Allergen-Free Ranking
Skin Safe says MAC Cosmetics has an 82 – 100% allergen-free ranking for each product.
Many of MAC Cosmetics’ products are free of allergens such as Fragrance, Gluten, Coconut, Nickel, Top Common Allergy Causing Preservatives, Lanolin, Paraben, Topical Antibiotic, MCI/MI, Soy, Balsam of Peru, Oil, Irritant/Acid, and SLS.
Reading the ingredient list is crucial because MAC Cosmetics is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.
However, certain products specifically address these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs.
The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations
We don’t want to scare you, but you HAVE to read up on any product’s ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States. The reason why will shock you.
The FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics nationwide. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!
Luckily, MAC Cosmetics sets a great example of what true clean beauty is meant to be, and you shouldn’t have to worry about any serious hidden nasties in its products.
But it’s still worth knowing that with makeup, you want to avoid these ingredients:
MAC Cosmetics Is Highly Sustainable and Ethical
The social causes MAC Cosmetics has focused on are supporting women and girls, the LGBTQIQ+ community, and people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
The brand has done this through the MAC Aids Fund “Viva Glam.” Through this fund, since 1994, MAC Cosmetics has raised over $500 million through sales of VIVA GLAM lipsticks, where 100% of the profits go to local organizations.
It's no secret that the world has a huge waste problem, and cosmetic brands only make it worse by using unsustainable packaging and harmful ingredients.
MAC Cosmetics takes environmental accountability by:
MAC Cosmetics has been a staple in most makeup kits for the past 30 years. The brand is more than well-established and is considered one of the most popular makeup brands available today.
For a brand that is as established and popular as it is, it’s disappointing to see still such a major lack of any real cruelty-free or vegan policies.
The brand is still selling in mainland China and is not in the process of even introducing vegan products.
At least MAC Cosmetics’ sustainability and social initiatives are at least something to be appreciated. The brand is trying to be more involved in its community and acknowledge its environmental impact.
However, the brand has yet to share where and from whom they source their mica. Neither MAC Cosmetics nor their parent company, Estée Lauder, has commented on ethically sourcing mica, which is a major red flag.