These days, being cruelty-free is the bare minimum for any beauty product. There’s really no reason to buy beauty products that have been tested on animals when there are so many great cruelty-free brands on the market.
But cruelty-free doesn't mean a product is vegan. In fact, many makeup products contain animal-derived ingredients like lanolin, a waxy substance derived mainly sheep's wool, the shearing of which often involves the horrific process of muelsing; beeswax, often derived through industrial bee farming using techniques which is considered exploitative of bees. To obtain the wax entire beehives are melted, leading to the mishandling of bees.
Carmine is a red pigment derived from crushed beetles; squalene, an oil derived from shark's livers (look for olive or wheat germ-derived squalene instead); and collagen, a fibrous protein found in the tissues, ligament, skins and bones of animals, that most often comes from cows or fish.
If you're an animal lover and a vegan, you may also want makeup products that are free of animal derived ingredients too. These 8 brands prove that no animal needs to suffer to create high-quality beauty products.
La Bouche Rouge
Plastic-free, vegan and chic, this French luxe makeup brand’s products are designed with sustainability and aesthetics in mind. La Bouche Rouge's lipsticks come in a refillable case (check out the vegan leather option) embossed with your initials, and mascara comes with a a glass wand and application brush made of plastic-free castor plant fibre.
Created with diverse age representation in mind, 19/99’s beauty philosophy is that whether you’re 19 or 99 you should be able to experiment with makeup trends and create a statement look. Their multipurpose colour pencils can be used as a lip liner, smudged on as an eyeshadow and eyeliner, or on cheeks for a pop of colour. Finish the look with the 19/99 long lasting High Shine Gloss which can also be used on eyes, lips and cheeks. Gotta love a multifunctional and minimal product!
Indie German makeup brand Hiro creates products that cut through the BS and don’t require a chemistry degree to decipher their ingredients. Products are cruelty-free, vegan, non-GMO, organic and gluten free, and also free from slave labour (often a problem with the use of mica in the cosmetics industry). Their multi-sticks give you sheer buildable colour for cheeks, lips and eyes in a nourishing and hydrating formula, and in a travel friendly and easy to apply creamy formula that blends like a powder.
Named after the creative studio in downtown New York City (not the cow secretions) in which the brand was born, Milk Makeup has gained a cult following for their fun and 100% vegan beauty products with unique formulations. Their product range includes cannabis sativa seed oil-infused mascara and skincare, a vegan plant-derived collagen high-shine lip gloss, a must-have plant-derived brow gel, and a cherry blossom and hyaluronic acid infused Hydro Grip Primer, which is a TikTok sensation.
For skin-like finishes and non-irritating, vegan ingredients suitable for sensitive skin, Tower 28 has versatile, dew-delivering formulas to upgrade your routine. Their popular Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer brings you a sun kissed look without the UV damage and comes in four shades and contains ingredients like hydrating mango butter and calming green tea extract.
This Canadian clean-beauty brand specializes in lip products, but they also have a great multitasking eye, lip and cheek pigment. Their range of products are powered by superfoods like pomegranate extract, maqui berry, wild African mango, and a lot of other delicious things. Try the creamy, matte, non-drying lipsticks, made with cocoa butter and tapioca pearls, and their award winning deeply hydrating Agave overnight lip mask.
Hourglass have been 100% vegan since 2020 when they reformulated their products, so they contain no animal products and no animal testing. 1% of all profits from Hourglass cosmetics goes to Non-Human Rights Project, an organization that works to secure fundamental rights for animals. We love their High Intensity Refillable lipstick in Red 0, a 100% vegan red lipstick formulated with a patent-pending replacement for carmine (red pigment derived from crushed insects). And the waterproof Gel Liner is smudge-free, long lasting, and perfect for a smokey eye.
Did you know that the beauty industry creates 120 billion units of waste every year? Not only is this small, woman-owned makeup brand vegan and cruelty free, but Axiology is also the world’s first zero-waste and 100% plastic-free makeup brand. Their multi-use Balmies can be used on lips, cheeks and eyes, they're free of synthetic ingredients, and packed with nourishing and hydrating ingredients like elderberry, hemp and plum oil. Best of all, there is no plastic packaging. Instead, Balmies are wrapped in paper and packaged in a recyclable carrying case.