After a few months of ambiguity, I have confirmation that Caudalie Paris is no longer cruelty-free.
Here's the latest email response I received from a Caudalie brand representative:
"I apologize for the late response, I have been working with France over the past few weeks to make sure I have accurate information on this delicate issue.
Please know that Caudalie continues to do no animal testing and requires all our suppliers do the same. It is true, we sell in China and unfortunately, today, no cosmetics brand selling in China can obtain certificates from the Chinese authorities to ensure that no test is performed on animals. Due to the absence of this certificate, the association Cruelty free has just remove the label.
Know that refusal to be present in China means refusing to answer to the request of many Chinese women who love our brand and ask for it daily. We are also hopeful that things are changing rapidly in China. The European authorities are trying to put pressure on Chinese authorities to ensure that their regulations evolve, and they adopt alternative methods, that have been practiced in Europe for many years. Also, be aware that we continue to defend our “cosm’ethic” and are always looking to go deeper into our commitments. Thus, in 2012, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, the founders have decided to give 1% of Caudalie’s sales to environmental organizations for the protection of the planet and animals. We hope that this answer will allow you to regain trust in our brand."
It does not seem that Caudalie directly conducts animal testing, but they are yielding to China's authority to conduct skin and eye irritation tests on animals on cosmetic products as they see fit.
It seems like more and more brands are disregarding their cruelty-free commitments in order to access Chinese markets -- Urban Decay, MAC, Mary Kay and Avon have all done so recently.
What do you think? Should makeup companies abstain from selling in China if it compromises their previously-stated ethics? Or do you agree with brands' decisions to capitulate to Chinese regulations in order to expand their markets?