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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

Best cruelty-free makeup brands

What makeup brands are cruelty-free?

Testing makeup products on animals is an ugly side of the beauty industry. We want to use safe products, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of animal welfare. Thankfully, many cosmetics companies are committed to ethical practices when it comes to animals and the environment. Choosing cruelty-free products is a socially responsible way to be kind to the planet and its creatures. Whether you are looking for an affordable, high-end or clean (non-toxic) makeup, there is a cruelty-free brand for you.

What is cruelty-free makeup?

PETA’s cruelty-free label means that a company has banned testing of all individual ingredients and final products on animals.

The term cruelty-free is not regulated. Some companies claim to be cruelty-free because they don’t test on animals themselves, even though they have suppliers or outside companies that do the testing for them. A truly cruelty-free makeup brand doesn’t allow its suppliers or third parties to test on animals either. Genuine cruelty-free brands also do not test on animals when required by law or sell their cosmetics in those markets, the largest of which is China.

Cost of cruelty-free makeup

Cruelty-free makeup is often cheaper, if not comparable in price to cosmetics that are tested on animals. This means you can shop with a clear conscience without breaking the bank. You can expect to find mid-range cruelty-free and clean makeup for $20-$49. Drugstore brands typically make them in the $5-$19 price range. And if you don’t mind splurging, you can find high-end brands for $50 or more.

Cruelty-free makeup FAQ

Is cruelty-free makeup better for your skin?

A. Yes, many cruelty-free makeup products are free from chemicals like parabens, sulfates and synthetic dyes that can cause irritation or allergies. But you should always check the label to verify if any other ingredients will cause an allergic reaction.

How is cruelty-free makeup tested to be safe for humans?

A. Companies may use various methods to ensure safety by conducting in-vitro tests, using computer models or running clinical studies on human volunteers to make sure the makeup is safe for use. Just because a product is tested on a living animal does not necessarily mean it's inherently safer.

Is all cruelty-free makeup vegan?

A. No. Vegan makeup means it does not contain any animal ingredients or by-products. Cruelty-free makeup means the product has not been tested on animals, but it may still have animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax. There is a lot of overlap between the two, however, so if you are looking for a vegan makeup brand, you'll have more luck searching the cruelty-free market.

Best cruelty-free makeup brands and products

e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty

This vegan brand’s poreless primer smooths and moisturizes your skin so your makeup can last all day. It is also available in luminous and matte finishes.

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow: available at Ulta Beauty

This cream-like eyeshadow gives you sparkle and color in one swipe, making it best for quick makeup looks. It's also long-wearing, buildable and blends smoothly.

Milani Baked Blush: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Reasonably priced and highly pigmented, this buildable blush is available in eight matte and shimmery shades. It can also be used to highlight and contour your features.

NYX Butter Gloss Non-Sticky Lip Gloss: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty

This long-lasting lip gloss is available in 24 colors and provides sheer to medium coverage. It also keeps your lips hydrated all day.

CoverGirl Clean Matte BB Cream: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Available in six shades, this oil-free BB cream can even your skin tone and hide all blemishes. It also keeps your skin shine-free all day.

Pacifica Stellar Gaze Length & Strength Mascara: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Made with 100% vegan ingredients, this mineral mascara will lengthen your lashes while keeping them nourished with coconut oil and vitamin B.

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush: available at Sephora

This lightweight and non-greasy blush gives you a glowing wash of color that melts into the skin for a natural finish. It is vegan and available in 10 shades.

Urban Decay Cosmetics 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil: available at Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Available in 38 colors, this long-lasting eye pencil glides on smoothly and lasts all day without smudging. It is available in shimmer, satin, matte, metallic and glitter finishes.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz: available at Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

This long-wearing and smudge-proof eye pencil can define, shape and fill your brows for a natural look. It is available in 12 shades.

Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow: available at SkinStore, Sephora, SpaceNK and Ulta Beauty

Available in glitter and metallic finishes, this water-based liquid shadow lasts all day and is available in 10 shades.

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue - Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30: available at LovelySkin, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

This multitasking tinted face moisturizer provides natural-looking coverage while hydrating your skin and protecting it from the sun. It is available in 20 shades.

Kosas Tinted Face Oil: available at Credo Beauty, Sephora and Violet Grey

If you are looking for skincare benefits in your makeup product, this tinted oil moisturizes your skin while providing sheer coverage. It is available in 16 shades.

Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40: available at Credo Beauty and Sephora

This lightly tinted serum provides coverage while protecting you from the sun. It has niacinamide to even your skin tone and is available in 30 shades.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer: available at Credo Beauty, LovelySkin, SkinStore, Sephora, Space NK and Violet Grey

This cream luminizer can make you glow while coconut oil and castor seed oil keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated. It is available in five finishes.

Aether Beauty Supernova Crushed Diamond Highlighter: available at Credo Beauty and Sephora

Made with ethically sourced diamond powder and organic rosehip oil, this highlighter gives you a radiant glow while protecting the collagen in your skin. It is available in three colors.

Wander Beauty Mile High Club Mascara: available at SkinStore and Sephora

This long-wearing mascara can lengthen and volumize your lashes in just one coat. It has caster seed oil to nurture them as well.

Beauty Bakerie Face Flour Baking Powder: available at Ulta Beauty and Amazon

Set your foundation for all-day wear or go a shade deeper and use this setting powder as a bronzer. Made with an HD feature, this powder softens your complexion. It is also vegan and available in six shades.


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