You should feel good about using makeup products that you love. Unfortunately, that can be hard to do if you know that your go-to blush, lipstick, or shampoo was tested on animals. Animal testing has been a big problem in the beauty industry for decades (in fact, even some perfumes aren’t cruelty-free). Thankfully, cosmetics companies are slowly but surely moving away from this practice. However, not all brands are in the clear just yet.
While animal testing is no longer required for distribution in the United States (nor in China—another major market—as of 2021), there are a few main reasons behind why this hasn't been totally irradicated yet. According to Humane Society International (HSI), convention is a primary culprit. For decades, animal testing is how safety testing was done. It's a process established brands are familiar with and often unwilling to change (especially if it’s owned by a larger parent company).
Another main reason HSI says animal testing hasn't been eliminated is because brands keep developing new ingredients. Therefore, they don’t have existing safety data. "New safety data has to be generated to satisfy the regulators before a product can go on sale, and that means new animal testing," HSI explains.
Here is where things get tricky. Just because a product is labeled as cruelty-free doesn't necessarily mean it's entirely clear of animal testing. Even though the finished product may not test on animals, most animal testing occurs at the ingredient level.
To make sure your products are completely cruelty-free, all the way from ingredient formulation to finished product, look for a Leaping Bunny certification. This is the gold standard for cruelty-free products. For a brand to be Leaping Bunny certified they must meet the company's strict set of standards which state that the beauty brand is not testing on animals or sourcing ingredients from third-party companies that test on animals.
Also, it’s important to note that cruelty-free products and vegan products are not one in the same. Vegan makeup is free of all animal products—but technically could still be tested on animals and labeled as vegan. Alternatively, cruelty-free beauty products can still include animal by-products and/or animal-derived ingredients (such as beeswax or lanolin). The cruelty-free label only pertains to the actual act of testing on animals.
With all that in mind, here is a shortlist of some of the best cruelty-free makeup brands we love here at IPSY (and as a bonus, many are vegan-friendly as well!).
That’s right: The line beloved by makeup artists, influencers, celebs, and just about everyone else on the planet is also cruelty-free. Known for brow shaping, Anastasia Soare started ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS in 2000, and the products—for brows and beyond—continue to be hits today. You can’t go wrong with the Dipbrow Pomade, which is Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free, as well as vegan.
BAREMINERALS is a favorite in the complexion category, but don’t sleep on the brand’s full range of color cosmetics, eye makeup, and skincare products either. All products are cruelty-free, and the brand says that 71 percent of the formulas are vegan as well—including their best-selling Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30.
Few brands are both ultra-affordable and ultra-effective, but E.L.F. COSMETICS covers both bases. Plus, every product from the brand is 100 percent cruelty-free, vegan, and free of phthalates and parabens. With so many products that cost approximately the same price as a coffee, it’s hard to pick just one, but we’re partial to the Precision Liquid Eyeliner, which can create simple and dramatic looks alike.
Founded by beauty executive Sharon Chuter, UOMA has a philosophy of inclusive beauty and self-expression for people of all skin tones. All products are cruelty-free, and the indie brand says that it is working towards 100 percent vegan status as well. One item that’s there already? The Black Magic Hypnotic Impact High Shine Lipstick, which has a gorgeous glossy finish—and, yes, a completely vegan formula.
HOURGLASS has been cruelty-free since it was first launched in 2004. The brand also started reformulating their products in 2017, and announced that their line was fully vegan as of December 2020. Don’t miss the Ambient Lighting Palette, which features three soft-focus highlighters you can mix and match depending on your look.
Founded by none other than Rihanna, FENTY BEAUTY has some of the most of-the-moment formulas and shades on the market. Best of all, all FENTY BEAUTY and FENTY SKIN products are cruelty-free. If you’re new to the brand, we recommend the Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation, which comes in 50 shades for the perfect skin match.
Named for a lifeguard stand at the crossroads of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, TOWER 28 is all about easy California beauty. The products are all meant to work for sensitive skin, so in addition to being vegan and cruelty-free, they’re formulated with non-irritating ingredients, too. Try the SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation—which lends a sheer, buildable tint, and also has the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance™.
The cool California color brand, known for their cheeky Naked eyeshadow palettes, has never tested on animals, and boasts several vegan-friendly makeup products as well. And while you can’t go wrong with the Naked palette, we’re partial to another best-seller, the All Nighter Setting Spray, which keeps your makeup on all night long (and then some).
You may not immediately associate a makeup line with the word “milk” as being one of the best vegan makeup brands, but every product from New York City-based brand MILK MAKEUP is vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free. Plus, the products are easy to use and feature high-quality ingredients. Take the cult-favorite Hydro Grip Primer, which holds makeup for up to 12 hours as it keeps skin hydrated and smooth thanks to hydrating hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.
This small-batch manufacturer makes makeup, skincare, and hair care products that put ingredients first. Products are vegan, cruelty-free, and made from fair trade and sustainably-sourced ingredients, so you can feel good about what you’re putting on your skin. We love the Rose Butter 91% Natural Creamy Lip & Cheek Stain, which provides natural-looking color and moisturizing wear.
All of BELLE EN ARGENT's products are Leaping Bunny certified, vegan, gluten-free, and made without eggs, nuts, or soy. The brand is famous for its creamy, nourishing lip products. Their luxe lip gloss and lipsticks are infused with natural ingredients like argan and jojoba oils. Expect a rich, creamy texture and high pigmentation with just a quick swipe.
After receiving a BELLE EN ARGENT lipstick in a Glam Bag, one Ipster wrote, "Great shade, beautiful packaging, and amazing texture and stay time."
If you're looking for a go-to cruelty-free brand with everything from mascara to skincare products, check out IT COSMETICS. This brand is both Leaping Bunny certified and PETA certified.
After using IT COSMETICS Confidence in a Cleanser, one Ipster wrote, "I am so picky about my skincare and I love this cleanser! It lathers really well, smells nice, and is lightweight but still feels clean."
TOO FACED is one of the leading brands in cruelty-free cosmetics. So go ahead and swipe on the brand's best-selling Better Than Sex Mascara with a good conscience. And for all you vegan beauty lovers out there, this iconic mascara is also totally free of animal ingredients. (However, the waterproof version contains beeswax and is not considered vegan.)
"Too Faced is always there for me with easy-to-use products when I need something quick," writes one Ipster. "It gives me big lashes fast!"
All of PACIFICA BEAUTY's makeup, skincare, nail polish, and hair care products are 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free. Sustainability is also one of the brand’s core values, and they’re committed to striving for zero product-manufacturing waste in their factory. Their eco-friendly packaging is recyclable and they work with suppliers who mirror those commitments.
One of our favorite products from PACIFICA is this neutral eyeshadow palette. After receiving it in a Glam Bag, Ipster jenellfirefly87 wrote, "I apply [these shadows] with a damp brush. The color payoff is nice and the texture is really soft and smooth. It lasts all day."
This iconic, cruelty-free brand is a favorite among makeup artists because originally, it was created specifically to hold up during photoshoots–under hot lights for hours on end. These days, that manifesto translates into everyday long-wear makeup that won't budge. The products are all cruelty-free—including the makeup brushes, made from synthetic fibers. Try the Blurring Foundation Brush, which has super-soft, domed bristles to give the most natural coverage.
This best-selling brand seamlessly fuses good-for-you ingredients into products that really do work. TARTE's products are always formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, or gluten.
If you're just getting into this brand, we recommend starting off with this 2-in-1 eyeliner. On one side, you have a kaolin clay-infused gel pencil, which is great for tightlining the eyes. On the other side, you have a liquid liner to create rich, dramatic lines like a sharp cat-eye. No matter which side you use, both are waterproof and will stay smudge-free for up to 12 hours.
"You can never go wrong with anything by Tarte," writes one Ipster. "Love the brand, love the textures, and love the color."
Cosmetic formulator Bill Xiang was inspired to launch the clean beauty brand REALHER after the birth of his daughter. All the brand's products are made from natural, cruelty-free ingredients that will help make your makeup bag a little bit cleaner.
One of our favorite REALHER products is the Ultimate Glow Getter Cheek Trio. Featuring a mix of shimmery and matte powders, it can be used as bronzer, blush, contour, or highlighter. "The Real Her Glow Getter is such a beautiful trio," writes Ipster dmagee. "The colors are all beautiful and have amazing pigment."
WANDER is a travel-inspired, multitasking beauty line that is also clean, cruelty-free, and free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrance. The high-quality formulas are made with skin-loving ingredients that your skin will thank you for.
For example, this eyeshadow is made with mango seed butter and evening primrose seed extract to moisturize eyelids and give the shadow a buttery, blendable texture. "I am in love with this color! It goes on smoothly," one Ipster writes.
If SPACE CASE COSMETICS isn't already one of your favorite makeup brands, it's certainly about to be. Everything this ultra-affordable brand sells is made sans animal products and animal testing and is all non-toxic. The clean, cruelty-free makeup is designed to make you look like "you just hit up Vegas on Venus." That's an aesthetic we can get behind.
Whether or not you're traveling to outer space, make it look like you've been spending time close to the sun with a swipe of the Fakecation Bronzer. After trying this product, one Ipster wrote, "This bronzer is so beautiful! It's easy to blend and gives you a beautifully bronzed glow."
Foundation and concealer are two makeup products that you want to be sure to pay special attention to as both get really absorbed into the pores. We love all the face products from PÜR COSMETICS, a brand that's suited for every skin tone and is 100 percent cruelty-free. It's also made without parabens, talc, gluten, or mineral oil. Instead, the formulas are packed with nourishing ingredients like natural moisturizers, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
After receiving PÜR's Love Your Selfie™ Foundation in a Glam Bag, one Ipster wrote, "This is better than Estée Lauder Double Wear! It's my new favorite foundation–light yet so much coverage!"
Want personalized makeup picks (and so much more!) delivered each month with the IPSY Glam Bag? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.
Like this article? Share it with your friends by clicking the icons below!