Uh-oh! Wet N Wild has become the recipient of a few major side-eyes, as some fans have been questioning the brand's cruelty-free status. Unfortunately, a few beauty shoppers in China discovered several Wet N Wild beauty stands in a popular drugstore chain. As China is known for its testing of cosmetics on animals, these sightings have caused quite the stir among supporters of Wet N Wild who are skeptical about the brand's practices. 

They're concerned that Wet N Wild is not truly cruelty-free because it's now offering products in a country that hasn't banned animal testing. 

Wet N Wild has always marketed itself as a proud cruelty-free brand.

"Cruelty-free" means the brand does not test its products on animals. The brand also carries a ton of vegan products and has a list for its shoppers to find easily on its website.

"It’s true! wet n wild® NEVER tests on animals, and we are super proud of this. We never have, and we never will," the brand states on its site. "We believe in beauty without cruelty first! None of our furry, feathery, or scaly friends were harmed in the making of our products. Whether you’re a card-carrying vegetarian who is committed to animal rights (and good for you!), or you just love puppies and bunnies and want them to smile (and who doesn’t?), we are with you!"

Speculation about Wet N Wild expanding into China and possibly not being a cruelty-free brand anymore began when the Cruelty-Free Kitty blog published photos of the brand's products being sold in China.

The brand published an article called "Wet N Wild Caught Lying About Being Cruelty-Free And Secretly Selling In China." The article featured photos of Wet N Wild makeup stands in a Watsons store. "They were taken on May 7, 2019 at a Watsons store located on Changhsou Road in Shanghai," the blog asserts. Watsons is "Asia's biggest health and beauty retail chain," according to China Daily

Wet N Wild having a presence in China causes concerns because the country is known to require animal testing on its products.

"Historically, the Chinese government has required all cosmetic brands to submit their products for animal testing if they want to sell them in China, despite how safe they may have otherwise been proven to be," Vogue reported in April. 

China did announce that it has now approved nine alternative methods that do not involve animals. Still, these new laws do not go into effect until 2020. This means that animal testing is still a requirement for the registration of products until then.

Revelist reached out to Wet N Wild for an official statement. The brand shared the following response.

The brand apparently denies any mistreatment of animals for the making and testing of its products. "Wet N Wild does not test on animals," wrote Stefano Curti, who is Global President of Markwins Beauty Brands, which owns Wet N Wild. "Wet N Wild is a global brand for beauty lovers, inclusive of all ages, ethnicities, skin colors, ideologies, and economic statuses. Cruelty-free has and will remain a key pillar of our brand." 

"In 2018, Watsons began offering our products to beauty enthusiasts in China via a pilot program with 30 stores," the statement continues.

"Wet n Wild products sold in China are domestically manufactured in China, and as such do not require animal testing. Since 2014, China no longer requires animal testing for domestic non-special use cosmetics. Wet N Wild products were able to enter the Chinese market maintaining our commitment to providing customers cruelty-free, high-quality, on-trend products they can feel good about buying and wearing. As a trusted leader in cruelty-free beauty, we will continue working closely with the Chinese government, and all governments, to adhere to our strict guidelines for cruelty-free beauty globally."

According to the Cruelty-Free Kitty blog, Wet N Wild denied its presence in China this March when she inquired. 

“Thank you for contacting us. At this time, we do not have any retail partners located in China. We thank you kindly for your interest in our products," the brand allegedly wrote to Cruelty-Free Kitty. The information does not align with the timeline Wet N Wild provided in its official statement to Revelist, in which the brand confirmed that it entered the Chinese market in 2018. 

Wet N Wild isn't the first brand to earn a side-eye from beauty fans due to its ties to China. 

In 2017, NARS came under intense scrutiny after the brand confirmed it would expand its products to China. The brand received so much backlash that it issued a statement that basically acknowledged the need for more animal safety but also stated that it still wanted to expand to China for the sake of artistry. 

"We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen," the brand wrote. "We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China. We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods. We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognized organization at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world."

Many NARS fans simply refused to accept the apology. Many swore off the brand.

"This makes me so sad, I only recently learned that you now sell to China and it’s extremely disappointing," one fan wrote. "No amount of money is worth compromising the life and safety of animals. Instead of being greedy and trying to make more profits you should have honoured being a cruelty-free company and marketed your brand in order to recruit new clients in countries that don’t require animal testing. I’m really disappointed that I can no longer support you as a brand."

Wet N Wild fans seem to be sharing similar sentiments.

Fans seem upset because they believed Wet N Wild didn't have cruelty-free practices and because they feel like they were lied to by the brand.

"Wow. Unreal. Instead of being deceitful and wasting energy why can’t they just do the right thing? Seems easier than lying. Lost a customer for life. Thanks for letting us know!" one person wrote to the Cruelty-Free Kitty blog on Instagram.

Many fans, including influence Jackie Aina, are confused about Wet N Wild's public statements. 

"So at the moment, is Wet N Wild cruelty-free or no? I need to add a disclaimer to today’s video. Some of the verbiage in their recent statement seemed vague and unclear," Aina wrote on Twitter. 

Prior to the news about Wet N Wild expanding to China, Jackie Aina had already filmed a review of its crystal collection

Aina provided a disclaimer in her video description to address the controversy.

"Recently some information has surfaced that has questioned the authenticity and nature of Wet N Wild's status as a cruelty-free brand. I was not aware of these controversies before filming this video, but I thought I would link information on it for anyone interested. A lot of people support and use brands like their[s] mainly based on the fact that they do not test on animals. So I believe transparency on this information is important," she wrote. 

Aina provided a link to a YouTube video by Tashina Combs of Logical Harmony, a site dedicated to helping people shop from cruelty-free brands.

Combs also announced that Logical Harmony removed Wet N Wild from its list of cruelty-free brands. She also explained what upset her the most about Wet N Wild's admission. 

"I was rooting for them in this. I was really rooting for them that this was a misunderstanding," Combs stated in the video. "This is really disappointing because this means by Logical Harmony standards, they are no longer cruelty-free. The biggest hit is that until this morning, they were still telling people that they did not sell in China. So it’s the lack of transparency and the lack of honesty. That’s a huge deal.” 

Lots of Wet N Wild critics have also pointed out that the brand's statements about being able to avoid testing animals in China are misleading.

Combs broke it down very simply.

"They're really simplifying how the laws there work. It's not a black and white thing. It's pretty, pretty recent that any cosmetics brand is able to bypass pre-market animal testing but again, they can't skip post-market testing," she explained. “No cosmetics brand is currently able to by-pass the post-market animal testing laws. So that is when the government pulls the product from shelves to test it on animals at any time. They don't have to let the brand know. They can just do it." 

The bottom line is that as long as China has post-market animal testing laws, no brand that sells its products in the country can be considered 100% cruelty-free. 

Wet N Wild not acknowledging this in its public statements is what's turning its fans all the way off. Fans are also disappointed by the fact that the brand never announced an expansion to China back when it happened in 2018. Unless the laws about post-market testing have changed but haven't been announced, things aren't looking so good. Let's hope that China's new legislation in 2020 will 100% eliminate pre- and post-market animal testing. It's also important for China and brands selling products there to make sure all of the ins and outs are explained plainly for the general public.

Wet N Wild has been removed from numerous cruelty-free brands lists, including those of Cruelty-Free Kitty, Logical Harmony, and Leaping Bunny. Currently, it's still listed as a cruelty-free brand on the PETA website.