Browsing beauty products can be an exciting adventure. But, if you’re a brand new vegan, trying to figure out which vegan makeup brands to buy might feel a bit overwhelming at first. This guide takes out all of the guesswork so that you can choose your new cruelty-free favorites with confidence.
Remember, it’s not necessary to throw out everything you already own and buy new products all at once. Take your time and, when the product is used up, use the opportunity to purchase a better, vegan and cruelty-free replacement. It may feel like slow progress at first, but you’ll have a fully transformed ethically aligned makeup cabinet before you know it!
If you’re just dipping your toes into natural, sustainable, and kind beauty, consider subscribing to one of these Vegan Beauty Subscription Boxes! These monthly sampling boxes make it easy for you to try out many brands at a fraction of the retail price.
Beauty lovers, if you’re as enthusiastic as we are, let’s dive right in!
Looking for a specific type of product? These resources can help you find your favorite consciously crafted mascara, all-natural skincare, and more.
One topic that might be confusing at first is whether products are cruelty-free, vegan, or both. Although these terms are similar, they’re not the same. A beauty product that is cruelty-free is not necessarily vegan. Let’s go deeper and simplify things:
Vegan means that the product is made without any ingredients that come from an animal, including animal derivatives (like honey and beeswax) and coloring agents or dyes (like those made from crushed beetles).
Cruelty-free means that the products were produced without the use of animal testing or experimentation (also known as vivisection).
Parent companies are single companies that have a controlling interest in another company (or multiple) companies, including smaller spin-off companies or ones acquired from a take-over or merger.
Many vegan and cruelty-free beauty brands have parent companies that are not vegan or cruelty-free. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a company you want to support or not. There’s both a good side and bad side to that issue.
On one hand, buying beauty products from these types of companies can really help. Your decision to buy shows that the consumer wants products without any animal-based ingredients or horribly painful and inhumane testing. On the other hand, you have to come to terms with ultimately supporting a company that makes its profits from exploiting animals.
Luckily, every year, more and more parent companies are going cruelty-free (and sometimes vegan!) due to customer demand. Let’s hope that the future is full of only vegan beauty products!
When you see the Leaping Bunny symbol, it means you can be sure that the product is truly cruelty-free. The testing for certification is exacting and and guarantees that any goods with this label “are free of animal testing at all stages of product development“. Not only is Leaping Bunny internationally recognized, it is a simple and easy way to recognize if a beauty (or household) item is cruelty-free.
According to the PETA website, they consider companies to be “cruelty-free” (under their Global Beauty Without Bunnies program) only under these specific conditions: they “must not only ban animal tests but also refuse to use any animal-derived ingredients, such as honey, beeswax, or carmine, in its products.”
If you don’t see these specific logos or symbols, be wary! There aren’t always laws to prevent companies from adding their own labels. They may look similar but, really, wouldn’t mean a thing. Keep an eye out for the real thing. You can also download apps to your phone such as Bunny Free (by PETA), Cruelty-Free (by Leaping Bunny), or Cruelty-Cutter (by The Beagle Freedom Project) to double check brands.
Woo! All of these brands are not only completely vegan, but they’re also cruelty-free. You can buy any beauty item from any of these companies and not worry about ingredients or testing. From makeup sponges and mascaras to brushes and blushes, they’re all up for grabs!
If you’re searching for an extra special self-care treat for yourself or a glorious gift for a friend, any of these brands will be a beautiful choice!
It’s inspiring to see so many beauty brands go completely cruelty-free in the last few years. In the future, it would be wonderful to see even more make the switch. While these companies are not fully vegan, they do offer a number of cruelty-free makeup or beauty options.
Bonus Tip: If you shop at Ulta, they have a page entirely devoted to cruelty-free brands and specific beauty items. Just make sure to check that they’re vegan before buying.
If you’re away from home and need a spur-of-the-moment drugstore beauty buy, these are the brands to look out for. Because some of them have both vegan and non-vegan options, make sure to check the labels or quickly visit their website for ingredient details. Sometimes, this is a great way to find new favorites!
Tip: Bookmark this page or add this link to the notes on your phone so you can easily pull up the page to specific products that are vegan-friendly. Makes your shopping less stressful and super speedy. That way, you have more time at home to spend enjoying your new pretty purchases!
Yes, Covergirl has been Leaping Bunny Approved! Though they do have a new vegan-friendly line of products, many (if not most) are not vegan.
As the parent of company of many beauty brands, L’Oreal is NOT cruelty-free. They do not participate in animal testing in their own labs, but they do allow their products to be tested on animals in order to sell them in mainland China.
Yes, NYX is now PETA certified as cruelty-free! They have many vegan-friendly products, but they are not entirely vegan. Their parent company, L’Oreal, is not cruelty-free.
No. Maybelline is another makeup company that (like their parent company L’Oreal) does not test on animals in house, but sells their products to places that have mandatory animal testing requirements. Because of this, Maybelline is not cruelty-free.
No, they’re not. Although CeraVe themselves do not test on animals, they sell their products on mainland China and allow their finished products to be tested on animals.
No, it’s not. As with L’Oreal and other large beauty corporations, this company allows their products to be tested on animals so that they can be sold on mainland China.
Sadly, no. While Neutrogena themselves do not test on animals, the company exports their beauty products to mainland China, who require animal testing by law. So, they are not cruelty-free.
No, they’re not cruelty-free. This beauty brand allows their products to be sold to countries that require animal testing by law (such as mainland China), so they cannot be considered cruelty-free.
Unfortunately, no. Clinique (along with parent company, Estee Lauder) agrees to have their products tested on animals when required by law, as in mainland China. This company is not cruelty-free.
No. Aveeno permits its products and/or ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law by other countries. Even though they do not test on animals themselves, they still cannot be considered free of cruelty.
Friends love to share! When it comes to the hundreds of vegan-friendly beauty products you can buy, it can certainly get overwhelming. If you have any tried and true beauty essentials in your makeup bag (or skincare drawer), make sure to comment below with your favorites.
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Thankyou for sharing amazing knowledge on cruelty-free drugstore brands.
Excited to receive this list
I’m assuming by the wording that all this information is based in the U.S. Is your information relevant in other countries, ie: Australia. WORLD wide web. Your info goes to other countries.
Hi Donna! We’d love to include all of the makeup brands that are available throughout the world (there are many thousands) but, sadly, our article can only feature a limited number. Luckily, many of the brands listed in this guide are available for purchase in most other countries. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to share more international brands. We’d love to know your favorite vegan and cruelty-free Australian makeup brands! Please consider sharing them with us. Thank you for your thoughtful comment 🙂
Love how detailed this list is! Wishing for more brands to switch over soon. Will be referring back to this list often!