Cruelty-free makeup has become a huge trend that is only continuing to grow, and along with it, multiple brands. Most brands test their products on animals, a technique that is becoming increasingly unpopular with their customers. Fortunately, there are brands that are certified as cruelty-free and that still make quality makeup products.
The following article is a detailed list of five main reasons why cruelty-free makeup is overall better than non-cruelty-free makeup. There is also a short definition of what counts as cruelty-free, and a few high-quality cruelty-free makeup brands that you can purchase products from. Here’s the list of our favorite brands if you don’t want to wait until the end:
Cosmetic brands don’t just test their products on lab rats. A few other common animals that are experimented on in cosmetics labs include:
A few of the experiments that are performed on animals in cosmetics labs include blinding the animals by testing eye cosmetics on them and giving them skin conditions after testing foundation formulas on them. And more often than not, the animals end up being ultimately killed once they’re unable to be used for testing any longer.
Most labs do not have any type of pain control for the animals. Each time you purchase a product from a cruelty-free cosmetics brand, you prevent one of the above animals from continuing to be tested on and hurt by non-cruelty-free brands.
This allows the animals to be left alone in their natural habitat and keeps the circle of life going. Buying cruelty-free also limits your cosmetic choices and forces you to be more mindful about what is worth the money and time. Buying a little less makeup prevents unnecessary plastic or other harmful materials from winding up in landfills and causing more harm to the environment.
Buying from cruelty-free makeup brands limits your choices, but it also forces you to make mindful choices. The narrowed down selection helps make better decisions about what is worth adding to your routine and what is not.
Makeup formulas usually have a few chemicals in them to get the color the brand wants, to give a certain unique trait to the makeup and to introduce other unique characteristics to differentiate the brand’s formulas from their competitors. Often these chemicals are tested on animals. Chemical-free makeup is pretty near impossible to come by, but there are certain chemicals that can and should be avoided in makeup formulas.
A few ingredients that can be harmful to your skin include:
- Synthetic dyes
These ingredients can cause harm to your skin by:
- Causing inflammation
- Making you break out more easily
- Aging you faster
- Causing allergic reactions
- Causing cancer
Most of the formulas that have harmful ingredients in them are tested on animals to make sure that they won’t catastrophically hurt people. The more cruelty-free products you buy, the less animals that get tested and harmed.
Some brands go even further with animal cruelty and make their products out of the animals themselves. For example, while most brands make their makeup brushes out of natural or synthetic hairs, some brands make their brushes from the tail fur of animals. A few types of animal tail furs that are used to make makeup brushes include:
- Horsetail fur
- Badger tail fur
- Goat tail fur
- Squirrel tail fur
As if fur from the back ends of animals in your makeup brushes wasn’t bad enough, there’s another ingredient commonly used in red makeup products that’s even worse. Carmine is a widely used ingredient in red lipstick or eyeshadow, but it’s made up of crushed and blended beetles.
Buying cruelty-free makeup not only prevents innocent animals from being tested on, but it also prevents you from using products and ingredients on your skin that are just plain detrimental.
Along with making better choices, you also have the opportunity to save some extra cash when you buy from cruelty-free makeup brands. Aside from the factor of having fewer options and therefore less money to spend, cruelty-free makeup brands are often less expensive than non-cruelty-free brands.
For example, three everyday makeup products that are used in the majority of people’s routines are:
The average prices for the products listed above from non-cruelty free brands are:
- Lipstick- $70 per ounce
- Foundation- $11 per ounce
- Mascara- $35 per ounce
On the flip side, the prices of these products from cruelty-free brands are:
- Lipstick- $46 per ounce
- Foundation- $8 per ounce
- Mascara- $20 per ounce
As you can see, the price differences between cruelty-free and non-cruelty-free brands are exponential.
Despite there being a few more non-cruelty-free brands than cruelty-free brands, they are still easy to find in your favorite makeup stores. Cruelty-free brands are sold in standard beauty suppliers such as:
There is also a wide variety of cruelty-free makeup brands, but there will be more on that towards the article’s end.
The final reason to start purchasing products from cruelty-free makeup brands is that you’ll be part of a good cause. The need for testing on animals has become obsolete and unnecessary for three main reasons:
- There are over 7,000 cosmetic ingredients that are already considered safe.
- There are better alternatives to animal testing.
- Animal testing is already in the process of being universally banned.
A lot of trial and error goes into creating a cosmetic product. Brands must choose which ingredients will get them the exact product they want, and each product requires a drastically different formula. From foundation to eye shadow, each product, no matter what brand it comes from, has a unique chemical formula that takes multiple tries to perfect.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of ingredients that brands can pick from. Seven thousand is already more than enough of a selection for brands to pick from, so they don’t have to experiment with new ingredients whenever they make a new product.
Even if brands did find a new ingredient that they wanted to test, there are safer and more ethical ways to test it out that do not involve harming animals. One way that is gaining a lot of traction in the cosmetics industry is known as vitro testing.
Vitro Testing a Viable Option for Testing
Vitro testing is when cosmetic brands test new formulas for their products on a synthetic recreation of human skin. This method is already more beneficial than testing on animals because it doesn’t harm a living thing, and the results are more accurate since the test subject more closely resembles a human.
The only reason brands use animal testing is because it gives faster results, but using vitro testing gives more accurate results and without anything dying. The pros definitely outweigh the cons with this new alternative.
Testing Banned in Some Countries
Finally, animal testing is already in the process of becoming a banned practice. A few nations around the world that have already completely outlawed testing on animals include:
- New Zealand
More and more countries banning animal testing just solidifies the unethical reputation that animal testing already has. In addition to how unethical it is, animal testing is also expensive and time consuming.
Animal Testing Becoming Unpopular
Products can usually only be tested on one animal at a time, meaning brands will go through multiple animal tests before they know if their product is toxic or not. This takes up a lot of time and costs a lot of money. Because of these factors, animal testing is becoming the least favorite testing method of brands that are trying to get a product out as fast as possible and make as much profit as possible.
While the main thing that the term “cruelty-free” refers to is animal testing, the actual definition covers a slightly wider market. According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, the definition of cruelty-free has no standard legal definition that is widely accepted and applied.
Since the definition of cruelty-free isn’t set in stone, brands can interpret it as they see fit. However, there are a few ways that a brand can get cruelty-free certified.
PETA Certifies Some Makeup Brands
The most popular way is to get certified by PETA, also known as the “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”, and another animal rights program owned by PETA called “Leaping Bunny”. You can look up and see if brands are certified as cruelty-free by these organizations with just a quick google search.
Check the Label on Makeup Brands for Cruelty-Free
A good rule of thumb to see if brands are cruelty-free quickly is by checking if the label says the product or any of its ingredients were not tested on animals. If it says that anywhere on the packaging or has the official “not tested on animals” rabbit logo, then you’re good to go.
A lot of brands are also catching up to being completely cruelty-free, so a few lists of cruelty-free versus non-cruelty free brands might be a little outdated. Fortunately, there is also a rule of thumb that you can follow for this circumstance. If a product has not tested any of its products or ingredients on animals within the last five years, then they are also considered cruelty-free.
Even though the actual definition of cruelty-free is up to interpretation, there is a solid difference between the definition of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics. According to PETA, cruelty-free products mean they have never been tested on animals, while vegan products have no ingredients that were derived from animals.
Vegan and cruelty-free aren’t always exclusive from each other. In fact, a lot of products and brands that are cruelty-free are also vegan. But the terms are not synonymous with each other, so it’s important to know the difference between them so that you make the best decisions for your makeup purchases and routine.
Now that you have a thorough understanding of what cruelty free means and the reasons to start buying cruelty free makeup, the following is a list of well-known and lesser known but still highly ranked cruelty free makeup brands to buy from. They range from drugstore to luxury, but all are high quality and cruelty-free.
Illamasqua is a brand that has made a name for itself both through the quality of its products and its support of worthy causes. Everything the brand produces is completely cruelty-free without dropping in quality. With very high ratings from consumers including beauty celebrities, you can tell they put all of their efforts into each product launch.
They are more of a pricey brand, but the quality is always more than worth the price. Every ingredient they use is also ethically sourced and manufactured, making Illamasqua’s cosmetics worth every penny.
This brand is cruelty-free from when the product is proposed in a business meeting to when it hits beauty shop shelves for the first time. Every single Hourglass product is made without animal testing at any point in production. The brand also refuses to sell its products to any countries that still participate in animal testing and non-cruelty-free practices.
Again, the brand is a little more on the pricier side. But you can also tell how committed they are to making quality cosmetics that are tested and made ethically.
Yes, the brand more popularly known for its line of skincare and bath products launched its own affordable cruelty-free makeup line. Even though they are primarily a skincare and bath/shower product line, their cosmetics are still very high quality for the drugstore price range they are sold at.
In addition to being affordable and cruelty-free, the packaging is also free of plastic. You get the best of both worlds with Lush because of their high quality and affordable products that are ethically made and don’t contribute to plastic waste.
Standing for eyes, lips, and face, e.l.f is quite possibly the most popular drug store brand on this list. They’re a great brand to try out for those who are just getting into makeup or starting to let go of non-cruelty-free makeup. Their products are usually no higher than $3 and even go as low as 1$. Despite the low price, the quality of their products is anything but.
All of e.l.f. Cosmetics’ makeup products are certified as cruelty-free, but they do have a few makeup application brushes that are made from animal hair. Make sure the cruelty free certification label is on the product before you buy it.
This lesser-known drug store makeup brand is available exclusively at Walmart. They specialize in more bold and shimmery makeup that comes in a wide variety of bright and fun colors. But all of their products are still cruelty-free and very affordable.
A lot of their products are also vegan, but not all of them. The majority of their face products are made with vegan friendly ingredients, but some of their brushes include animal hairs. But everything is labeled as vegan friendly or not, so you have nothing to worry about.
Ecotools doesn’t make makeup products such as blush and eyeshadow. Instead, they make the tools you use to apply those products. Ecotools makes the best cruelty-free makeup brushes and sponges for easy and safe application. Their products are also 100% vegan and made with natural ingredients.
Last but not least, Sonia Kashuk is a classier drug store makeup brand that specializes in creating natural looking makeup that’s easy for anyone to use. They are exclusively available at Target and offer high quality makeup products and brushes for an affordable price.
There is one certain thing to be aware of when purchasing from Sonia Kashuk, however. They push the loose definition of cruelty-free when it involves their makeup application tools. When it comes to their cosmetics, all of them are cruelty-free and aren’t tested on animals.
But some of their makeup brushes are made from animal hairs. The brand claims that the brush hairs are obtained in ethical and humane ways, but that is up to you to decide.
Cruelty-free is slowly but surely starting to become the norm in the cosmetics industry. As it’s increasingly becoming banned, brands are starting to turn to different testing alternatives to make their brands cruelty-free and more widely accessible to their customers.
Since cruelty-free products are becoming more widely available and less expensive than non-cruelty-free products, purchasing them is becoming more and more common. Buying cruelty-free makeup products is also better for you and better for the environment overall. It’s probably one of the easiest ways to fight for animal welfare rights and to take care of the environment.