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Beauty website's claim that mink-hair eyelashes were made 'cruelty free' found to be misleading by ASAI

Four people complained to the authority that it was impossible for hair from a mink, a wild animal, to be obtained without cruelty.

Image: Shutterstock

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority of Ireland has upheld four complaints against a beauty company whose mink eyelashes were advertised as “cruelty free”.

The issue arose in relation to details about fake eyelash ranges, including mink lashes, on the Bia Belle Beauty website.

A claim on the frequently asked questions section of the website alleged that all of the company’s lashes were “handmade with love and care”, reusable up to 20 times, and made cruelty free.

However, four complaints were submitted to the authority in relation to the advertisement by members of the public.

They complained that it was impossible for hair from a mink to be obtained without cruelty, as mink was a wild animal that would have to be caged for the process.

One complainant highlighted the fact that the lashes were imported from China, where animal cruelty laws did not compare to those in the European Union.

Certificate

Another person also objected to the description of the website’s “Lolly” lashes as faux mink, when the advertisers said on Instagram that the same lashes were in fact mink.

In response to the complaints, Bia Belle Beauty said that it had researched the supplier of the mink eyelashes before importing them into Ireland.

The company said it did this by having an agent visit its supplier’s premises in order to ensure that the eyelashes were made cruelty free.

The company said that they had spoken to the supplier over the cruelty free claim, and had obtained a certificate to back this up.

The certificate consisted of a typed document from the supplier, which said: “Our mink fur eyelash is made of 100% mink fur. The mink has not been killed, the hair is only cut down. It’s cruelty-free. We hereby certify!”

The statement also included a company stamp with the name of the supplier and the date on which the statement was made.

The company said that it had not advertised its lashes under false pretences or set out to mislead anyone intentionally, as it felt it had carried out the correct procedures when researching the supplier.

In response to the complaint over the description for its “Lolly” lashes, the company also said that the “faux mink” reference was a genuine mistake and that when it was pointed out to them, they corrected it.

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Misleading

The ASAI subsequently sought the opinion of the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, who informed the body that the use of the term “cruelty free” was associated with the organisation Cruelty Free International.

UCD said that the term was established by animal protection activists to label products that had not been tested on animals during their development.

They added that as the product in this case was animal fur, it was incompatible with the principle of being “cruelty free” and, in their opinion, the use of the term for Bia Belle Beauty’s mink eyelashes was misleading.

UCD also said the certificate provided to the company was inadequate because it had been provided by the supplier of mink lashes who, in its opinion, had a vested interest in marketing their products.

In its conclusion, the ASAI committee noted the information and opinions of UCD on the term ‘cruelty free’ and use of mink lashes, as well as the fact that the certificate was provided by the supplier and had no objective authentication from an independent body.

The authority’s complaints committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Advertising Code, and noted the advertisers’ pledge to stop using of the term “cruelty free” without appropriate certification.

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