The Best Vegan & Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands to Stock Up On

Skin Care

What’s not to love about a makeup brand that makes you look killer, but without killing animals? Vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands are making it easy to slay the streets without the emotional baggage that comes from wearing brands that test on animals. If that’s not good enough, these brands aren’t all that hard to find. Actually, they’re more popular than you may think, and you might even be using some of them already.

You don’t have to be an animal rights activist to enjoy the benefits of these cosmetics. Maybe you just have sensitive skin and want a product that’s more natural and transparent with ingredients. Either way, we’ll explore some of the best brands that you’ll want to add into your daily routine.

What is Cruelty-Free Makeup? Is it the Same as Vegan Makeup?

Lab researcher holding a makeup brush to a rabbit's face
Believe it or not, there are vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands for every budget.

These two phrases sound pretty much the same, right? But the reality is that cruelty-free makeup brands and vegan makeup brands are definitely not the same. There is a pretty big distinction between the two that is important to understand.

  • Cruelty-free means no animal testing. Basically, cruelty-free makeup brands mean that you can be sure the makeup was not tested on any animals. However, the ingredients that go into the product might still contain animal parts or secretions. For example, honey, beeswax, and gelatin are all animal products you might find in a product.
  • Vegan means no animal products in the ingredients. A vegan makeup label means that there are no animal-based ingredients in the product. Unfortunately, it doesn’t ensure there was no animal testing. So yes, a vegan product might still be tested on animals, unless it’s also noted as cruelty-free. It’s mostly the accidentally vegan products you should watch out for. These products might not have any animal products in their ingredients, but it wasn’t planned that way. Think of something like Oreos! It’s a happy accident that they’re vegan, but they weren’t designed to be that way. Similarly, makeup that falls into the accidentally vegan category might test on animals still.

So, it’s important to keep an eye out for the ingredients and labeling if you’re interested in having products that are both cruelty-free and vegan.

Tip: Always check the ingredients. If you’re after a product that is sustainable for the planet, you should also check for ingredients that are eco-friendly. For example, palm oil is a no-go as it greatly contributes to deforestation.[1]

Why Should I Make the Switch?

flat-lay of different makeup brushes, blush powders, lip palettes, lip gloss
Vegan products could be better for you if you have sensitive skin.

There are many reasons you’ll want to consider before transitioning from your current makeup to a cruelty-free or vegan line. Let’s dive into a few of these makeup motivations:

  1. Better for sensitive skin. Vegan products could be better for you if you have sensitive skin. This isn’t always because they lack animal products, but more so because a vegan product is usually more environmentally-friendly and thus contains simple ingredients. Because let’s face it, some products we put on our faces contain ingredients we can’t even pronounce.
  2. Great for the environment. Products that pride themselves on being vegan build their brand around their care for the world and all the beings on it. Often, this translates to eco-friendly (aka plastic-free) packaging and sustainable ingredients as well as not using animals in the process. If you’re trying to be more eco-conscious, using these brands is a great place to start.
  3. Within your budget. Believe it or not, there are vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands for every budget. Of course, you can find premium products if you’re after top-notch quality. But there are economically priced lines that are readily available too. So your piggy bank shouldn’t stop you from making the “change” to vegan and cruelty-free.

Best Budget Buy: Wet n Wild

Like we mentioned before, you don’t have to break the bank to buy vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands. Wet n Wild is a perfect example of a super accessible line with an extensive list of vegan products. Plus all of their products are 100% cruelty-free.

Buy it if

You’re a makeup addict with a tight budget.

Is it also vegan?

A select range of products are.

Popular products

What you need to know

You might end up walking out the store with a full bag because the Wet n Wild brand is so affordable with a wide-range of products. The vegan line covers lipsticks to brow pencils, and even gel nail polish.

Best Celebrity Brand: Fenty Beauty

Rhianna made a huge splash with her best-selling beauty line that offers both stunning and 100% cruelty-free products. Although most of their products are free of animal byproducts, the brand cannot be considered vegan. In their words, “A handful of our products may contain ingredients of animal origin, such as beeswax and carmine.”

Buy it if

You want an all-inclusive brand that slays in skin tone ranges.

Is it also vegan?

A select range of products are.

Popular products

What you need to know

The brand aims to create makeup “with promise of inclusion for all women.” It is known for it’s diverse array of shades that are lightweight and great for layering. But don’t worry, this comes at no cost to the bold and bright hues in some products. The website also has a foundation shade finder quiz.

Best Eye Shadow Buy: Urban Decay

NAKED2 Eyeshadow Palette by Urban Decay
Image credits: Urban Decay

Here is a name that you might already have in your makeup bag. Urban Decay is a fairly common and reasonably-priced, high-quality brand.

Buy it if

You crave a bold, smoky eye every day.

Is it also vegan?

A select range of products are. Plus, they have a “vegan” tab for easy shopping on their website.

Popular products

What you need to know

This brand is PeTA-approved as cruelty-free.[2] You can find Urban Decay at most department stores and makeup counters. However, you might have to call in advance to check if their vegan products are sold at your location. The more you demand it, the more they’ll respond to the growing need.

Best Handmade Brand: LUSH Cosmetics

LUSH cruelty-free and vegan  Bubblegum Candy Confection Lip Scrub
Image credits: LUSH

If you’ve ever walked into a LUSH store, you know the smell that wafts through the air is truly inspiring. This brand prides itself on being cruelty-free and mostly vegan with quality, handmade products. Plus, everything you’ll find at LUSH is 100% vegetarian.

Buy it if

You want products with ingredients you can pronounce.

Is it also vegan?

Most products are, but not all of them. Check the ingredients!

Popular products

What you need to know

While the LUSH brand encourages ethical buying, it is not totally vegan. They report being about 80 percent vegan, as some products use milk or honey.[3] Still, that’s a pretty good start. Additionally, they use eco-friendly packaging on all their products.

Best Buy for a Glow-Up: Too Faced

Too Faced Natural Lust Bronzer Satin Dual-Tone Bronzer
Image credits: Too Faced

Can you say highlight? Too Faced brand has a great line of shimmery vegan and cruelty-free products. So you can light up your cheekbones without a second thought.

Buy it if

You contour with a purpose.

Is it also vegan?

A select range of products are. They are listed on the website under the “Vegan Friendly” tab.

Popular products

What you need to know

Too Faced is one of the most well-known cruelty-free makeup brands, but is not totally vegan. So make sure to check each product’s ingredient list before you buy. This brand aims to bring back “unapologetic glamour and femininity.”[4]

Best New Brand: Huda Beauty

Huda Beauty Faux Mink Lash Collection
Image credits: Sephora

If you believe in products made by users themselves, the Huda Beauty brand will grip you in. Originally a beauty blogger, the founder of Huda launched her own cosmetic line that quickly turned into a massive company. The company is not officially certified as ‘cruelty free’ yet, but they say they are working on it. They do, however, confirm that don’t “conduct or commission animal testing on ingredients, formulations or finished products.”

Buy it if

You’re looking for the perfect vegan fake eyelashes.

Is it also vegan?

Some select products are.

Popular products

What you need to know

Because the brand is newer, they are still working on getting officially labeled as cruelty-free. However, they do ensure buyers on their website they don’t test on animals for any products or ingredients.[5] You can find Huda Beauty at Sephora or online.

Best Easy Online Shopping Brand: Tarte Cosmetics

cruelty-free vegan makeup tarte cosmetics creaseless concealer
Image credits: Tarte Cosmetics

Tarte is a great one-stop shop where you can get a ton of great bargains on a range of products. Not to mention, they have a decent amount of vegan cosmetics too. So, you can utilize their daily online discounts and order your next self-love gift right to your doorstep.

Buy it if

You’re after flawless skin worth of a before and after picture.

Is it also vegan?

A select range of products are.

Popular products

What you need to know

All their products are cruelty-free, and some are vegan too. They have the ingredients list on the bottom of each product page on the website. Also, they use the widely-known “V” for the vegan symbol on the product pictures for easy online shopping.

Best Lipstick Buy: Axiology

Axiology Intrigue Natural Lip Crayon
Image credits: Axiology

When a brand focuses on only one body part, you know they’ll make their product for it amazing. That’s the case for Axiology and their lip crayons and lipsticks.

Buy it if

You think wearing lipstick doesn’t require a special occasion. 

Is it also vegan?

Yes, the entire brand is vegan and cruelty-free, certified by PeTA.

Popular products

What you need to know

While it might be worth the struggle, the products aren’t easy to get your hands on. You’ll have to order online or search for a retailer near you.

Best Brush Brand: EcoTools

If you really plan to commit to a vegan makeup routine, you’ll need some vegan brushes to apply your products. EcoTools are not only vegan but environmentally-friendly too. They use bamboo and recycled materials for their brushes and packaging.

Buy it if

You want soft application brushes that weren’t once on the backside of a furry friend.

Is it also vegan?

Yes, the entire brand is vegan and cruelty-free.

Popular products

What you need to know

You can easily order their products online. On top of that, they carry hair brushes as well so you can detangle those locks with ease.

BONUS! Best Budget Buy Round 2: e.l.f. Cosmetics

e.l.f. Cosmetics Matte Lip Color in Praline
Image credits: e.l.f. Cosmetics

As with most affordable brands, e.l.f. Cosmetics prides itself on being available for the common consumer. Their products are all vegan and are super easy to buy while on your next grocery trip to your neighborhood superstore.

Buy it if

You don’t want to sacrifice quality for cost.

Is it also vegan?

Yes, all products are vegan and cruelty-free.

Popular products

What you need to know

You can find the e.l.f. brand at stores like Walgreens, Walmart or Ulta Beauty. They even offer a student discount online if you’re really pinching pennies.

Some Buying Tips For Finding the Best Vegan & Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands

The difference between cruelty-free and vegan Venn diagram
Always check your labels when looking for vegan and/or cruelty-free makeup products.

When you’re checking out different brands and products, look for the symbols that correlate with veganism and cruelty-free products. Keep an eye out for the green “V” vegan symbol, and any stamps that specifically say “vegan” or “cruelty-free”. Additionally, if you see a product without clear labeling, take a peek at the ingredients list and do some background research on the product testing. Some good old fashion investigating is the only sure-fire way to know whether or not a product is both vegan and cruelty-free.

The Best Vegan & Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands

Conclusion

Now you should have a thorough idea of the vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands to add to your shopping list. Once you find your perfect match, you’ll see that a vegan lifestyle is just as easy as saying “yes” to the right products and “no thanks” to the wrong ones. Now go out into the world and enjoy your new look without regret.

References

  • [1] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0159668
  • [2] https://www.urbandecay.com/customer-service/commitments.html
  • [3] https://au.lush.com/help/faqs/products/why-arent-all-your-products-vegan
  • [4] https://www.toofaced.com/about-the-founders—story/about-founders-story.html/
  • [5] https://www.shophudabeauty.com/us/en_US/faqs.html

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