Using animals in makeup sounds medieval. Crushed bugs for eyeshadow, fish scales in lip gloss. You would think the beauty industry would have come a long way from these barbaric practices. But it really hasn’t.
Luckily, things are finally looking up as vegan makeup is on the rise. Nobody really craves animal-derived beauty products with plant-based alternatives available. So more people turn to kinder and more natural ways to look beautiful.
If you also think that animal cruelty and beauty do not jam, turn to vegan makeup. Fill your case with the best vegan makeup from cruelty-free and vegan makeup brands.
- Best Vegan Makeup Products
- Best Vegan Makeup Brands
- Best Vegan Mineral Makeup
- Best Organic Vegan Makeup
- Best Affordable Vegan Makeup
- Best Luxury Vegan Makeup
- Best Korean Vegan Makeup
- Best Mineral Vegan Makeup
- Vegan Makeup For Dry Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Oily Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Combination Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Sensitive Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Mature Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Acne-Prone Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Dark Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Fair Skin
- Vegan Makeup For Men
Vegan Makeup Brands
Vegan Makeup Types
Vegan Face Makeup
Vegan Cheek Makeup
Vegan Eye Makeup
Vegan Lip Makeup
Vegan Makeup Tools & Kits
Vegan Makeup Products
Vegan makeup products are makeup products that are free from animal-derived ingredients, most commonly beeswax, carmine, and guanine. Vegan makeup products are also not tested on animals or contain ingredients that have been tested on animals.
In 2023, you can find plenty of vegan makeup products that are fully animal-free and cruelty-free. Animal ingredients are not really needed anymore to make good-quality makeup products.
Here are some of our favorite vegan makeup products.
- Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Foundation: Sephora, Nordstrom
- Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer: Amazon, Sephora
- Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: Amazon, Sephora
- Urban Decay Naked Wild West Eyeshadow Palette: Amazon, Sephora
- Merit Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick: Sephora, Official site
See our full selection of the best vegan makeup products here.
Vegan Makeup Brands
Vegan makeup brands are makeup brands that do not use any animal-derived ingredients in their products. Vegan makeup brand never tests their products on animals. Vegan brands do not also sell their makeup in countries where animal testing is required by law.
More and more makeup brands today have decided to quit animal ingredients altogether. Animal testing is also becoming a thing of the past.
Here are some of our favorite 100% vegan makeup brands in 2023.
- Merit Beauty: Sephora, Official site
- Milk Makeup: Amazon, Sephora
- KVD Beauty: Sephora, Ulta
- Rare Beauty: Sephora, Kohl’s
- Hourglass: Amazon, Sephora
See our full collection of the best vegan makeup brands here.
Vegan Makeup Types
Vegan makeup can be divided into five categories: vegan face makeup, vegan cheek makeup, vegan eye makeup, vegan lip makeup, and vegan makeup tools and sets.
Vegan Face Makeup
See all vegan face makeup products:
- Vegan Foundations
- Vegan Tinted Moisturizers
- Vegan BB Creams
- Vegan CC Creams
- Vegan Primers
- Vegan Concealers
- Vegan Setting Powders
- Vegan Setting Sprays
Vegan Cheek Makeup
See all vegan cheek makeup products:
Vegan Eye Makeup
See all vegan eye makeup products:
- Vegan Mascaras
- Vegan Eyeliners
- Vegan Eyeshadows
- Vegan Brow Products
- Vegan Eyelashes
- Vegan Eye Primers
- Vegan Lash Serums
Vegan Lip Makeup
See all vegan lip makeup products:
Vegan Makeup Tools & Kits
See all vegan makeup tools and kits:
What Is Vegan Makeup?
Vegan makeup is makeup free from animal products such as lanolin, beeswax, carmine, guanine, animal fats, and animal proteins. Vegan makeup is also not tested on animals and does not include ingredients that have been tested on animals.
Here are some of the most common ingredients that make makeup not vegan:
- Beeswax – A secretion produced by honey bees, beeswax is added to makeup products to make them thicker and creamier. Beeswax has also emollient and soothing qualities.
- Lanolin – Lanolin is an oily substance found in sheep’s wool. Lanolin is often added to highly moisturizing and creamy face makeup products.
- Carmine – Carmine is a red pigment derived from crushed female red beetles. On the ingredient lists, carmine can be also called Cochineal, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, CI 75470, and E120.
- Guanine – Guanine is a shine agent made from the scales of fish. Guanine can be found in mascaras, eyeshadows, lip glosses, and other shiny or glittery makeup products.
- Glycerin – Glycerin is an emollient that can be either plant-based or derived from animal fats. It’s used in most makeup formulas for hydration and creaminess.
- Collagen – A protein derived from animal bones and collective tissues, collagen is sometimes added to anti-aging makeup products.
Instead of animal-derived ingredients, vegan makeup uses a wide variety of plant-based minerals, pigments, and oils such as jojoba oil and shea butter. For shine, vegan makeup uses natural mica crystals. For red pigment, vegan brands utilize red and purple vegetables.
In 2023, there are no irreplaceable animal-derived ingredients in makeup anymore. Vegan makeup formulas are growing in popularity and the vegan label decorates an increasing number of high-end and drugstore makeup products.
While vegan-friendly makeup formulas are on the rise, you need to be careful since many makeup products are still animal tested. Drugstore brands like Maxfactor confusingly label their products ‘vegan’ while still testing the products on animals when required by law.
To make sure you are buying vegan makeup, we suggest you always look for certified cruelty-free and vegan labels from organizations like PETA, Leaping Bunny, and The Vegan Society. External certification is the surest way to know the company’s vegan claims can be trusted.
Vegan Makeup Vs. Cruelty-Free Makeup
There are two different labels makeup producers use: cruelty-free and vegan. Cruelty-free makeup is not tested on animals BUT it can include animal ingredients. Vegan makeup is not tested on animals NOR does it contain any animal ingredients.
Vegan makeup traditionally meant the makeup is free of animal ingredients. The definition said nothing about animal testing. In fact, large outlets like The NY Times are still using the old definition. The same goes for large retailers like Sephora.
But since no consumer wants to buy animal-tested “vegan makeup,” organizations like Vegan Avenue are working to extend the vegan makeup definition to mean animal-free and animal-testing-free. That’s the only way the word ‘vegan’ can wholly remove animals from the picture.
PETA also took a crucial step in changing its ‘cruelty-free’ label to a more accurate ‘animal test free’. After all, cruelty-free makeup in its old sense was never devoid of animal cruelty. Insects are killed for carmine. Pigs and cows are killed for fatty emollients and collagen.
Vegan Makeup Vs. Vegetarian Makeup
It’s also important to know the difference between vegan makeup and vegetarian makeup. Vegan makeup is free of all animal-derived ingredients. Vegetarian makeup can still include ingredients from live animals such as beeswax, honey, or lanolin.
Even though vegetarian makeup does not use ingredients from killed animals, vegetarian makeup is still not free from animal cruelty. For example, sheep are not killed for obtaining lanolin but sheep may be kept in appalling conditions where they suffer nevertheless.
What To Look For In Vegan Makeup?
Like with food, the best vegan makeup is made with natural and clean ingredients with minimal use of additives. While parabens, phthalates, or sulfates are not dangerous, they are still potential hormone disruptions you are better off avoiding.
With sensitive skin, make sure the vegan makeup is free of artificial dyes, synthetic fragrances, alcohol, and talc. It’s also better to avoid common allergens like gluten and soy in your makeup. Organic natural vegan makeup products are the safest for sensitive skin.
If you have oily skin or acne-prone skin, choose vegan makeup that is non-comedogenic and free of rich oils that can clog pores. Non-comedogenic vegan makeup is also better for combination skin, you just need to make sure the formulas are not overly drying.
With dry skin and mature skin, choose more hydrating vegan makeup that is also protecting and strengthening the skin with vitamins and antioxidants. There are so many great plant-based oils and emollients that vegan makeup can utilize – dry skin can really enjoy the most of it.
Is Vegan Makeup Better Than Regular Makeup?
Vegan makeup does not automatically mean it is of better quality than regular makeup. Vegan makeup, like all makeup, can be made with cheap synthetic ingredients or with premium-quality raw materials. The quality of vegan makeup varies greatly between brands and products.
What’s important to note though that vegan makeup is definitely not worse than non-vegan makeup. In 2023, there is nothing to lose from replacing animal-derived ingredients with synthetic or plant-based alternatives.
For example, synthetic beeswax is considered indistinguishable from regular beeswax in terms of composition and properties. Or Red 0, a carmine pigment replacement by vegan brand Hourglass, is considered to be as long-wearing and pigmented by fans.
All in all, vegan makeup is more of an ethical standpoint than a quality measurement. You definitely won’t miss out on anything by switching to vegan makeup. But still do some market research and read reviews before blindly committing to a vegan makeup product.
Is Vegan Makeup Better For The Environment?
Vegan makeup is not necessarily better for the environment than non-vegan makeup. But it can be said that leading vegan makeup brands usually have strong environmental values. Avoiding harmful chemicals and using sustainable production tend to be important to vegan brands.
Many animal ingredients used in makeup (tallow, collagen) are by-products of the agricultural industry, so those ingredients don’t have a huge ecological footprint of their own. Nevertheless, industries that support cattle farming contribute to environmental issues indirectly. Livestock is one of the biggest contributors to climate change.
Also, beeswax, one of the most popular animal-based ingredients in makeup, is shown to have a negative impact on the environment. Honey bees tend to monopolize resources, thus leaving less for other insects and destabilizing natural ecosystems.
In order to deem vegan makeup more eco-friendly, we need to look at the ingredients used in the products. For instance, replacing beeswax with synthetic paraffin-derived alternatives is not as eco-friendly as replacing beeswax with plant waxes such as carnauba wax.
Is Vegan Makeup More Expensive?
Vegan makeup is not more expensive than regular makeup. Sure, you can find vegan makeup at luxury price points but you can find equally many vegan makeup brands that are affordably priced. The perception that vegan makeup is more expensive is not accurate in 2023.
E.l.f. and Pacifica Beauty are good examples of makeup brands that are both vegan and affordable. Popular drugstore brands like Wet N Wild, Covergirl, and NYX have also an excellent selection of vegan makeup at very cheap prices.
Vegan makeup is more expensive in cases when the brand is also positioning itself as organic, clean, and eco-friendly. But then the prices are more determined by the quality of the ingredients and sustainability of production instead of the vegan aspect of the brand.
FAQ About Vegan Makeup
Vegan makeup is free from animal products and has not been tested on animals. Instead, vegan makeup of made with ingredients from plants and vegetable oils.
Vegan makeup is made of a variety of plant-based ingredients such as shea butter, rose oil, vegan glycerin, and cocoa pigments.
Vegan makeup today is as good as non-vegan makeup. In fact, it is often even better as it contains more natural and safer ingredients.
The best vegan makeup products use high-quality natural ingredients and pigments. Our top picks are Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation, and Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer.
NARS makeup is not vegan as it uses animal-based ingredients and tests on animals. Since 2017, NARS sells its products in China which used to require animal testing by law.
No, MAC is not vegan. The company uses animal ingredients and does animal testing. Fingers crossed they decide to go vegan at some point.
You can find a wide selection of vegan makeup on Amazon, Sephora, and Ulta. To find vegan makeup on Sephora and Ulta, apply two filters at the same time in your product search: vegan and cruelty-free.
Vegan makeup is taking over the world with amazing brands and high-quality products. Vegan beauty in 2023 has no tradeoffs: you can care about animals and look your best.
Made with natural ingredients, vegan cosmetics are also often a safer choice for your skin. Whenever possible, choose vegan makeup products that are made without harsh chemicals.
We hope you enjoyed our selection of the best cruelty-free vegan-friendly makeup. As we try out new vegan makeup all the time, we keep updating this list with our favorite beauty picks.
Main image: courtesy of KVD Beauty