2016 was an eventful year for cruelty-free beauty! Lots of new emerging cruelty-free brands and product launches, but also quite a few acquisitions. Recently, Too Faced and Becca were bought by Estee Lauder and IT Cosmetics was bought by L’Oreal.

Since I believe in supporting fully cruelty-free brands over those owned by parent companies that test on animals whenever possible, I did my best to choose products from those brands. There’s one exception you’ll find in this list since I couldn’t find a better alternative, and the brand in question (Tarte) is one I personally support.

Like the previous year, I went for products that would work for most skin types and skin tones. Some are new releases and some are older favorites that stood the test of time. I hope you’ll give some of these a try, and if you already have, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Brands Of The Year

Picking brands of the year wasn’t an easy choice, but these 3 stood out in 2016 and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with in 2017.

Kat Von D Beauty is my cruelty-free brand of the year for high-end makeup.

In 2016, they came up with so many new and exciting launches like their Lock-It Cream Concealer which is a hit. They also expanded their shade ranges in several products which is fantastic, and they’re working on reformulating their entire line to be vegan.

We’ve seen a lot of innovation and quality from Kat Von D Beauty this year and I’m excited to see what they come up with in 2017.

Colourpop came out of freaking nowhere and they’ve taken over the beauty world in 2016.

Their products and formulations are innovative and they have a crazy wide range of shades, not to mention that they’re keeping everything affordable. Most of their products are $6 each and they’re of better quality than most drugstore products.

Paula’s Choice is my cruelty-free skincare brand of the year.

First of all, they’ve been Leaping Bunny certified since 2013 and they’re taking animal testing seriously. Paula’s Choice is “brand of the year” material because they have a huge range of very effective skincare for ALL skin types. Whether your skin is acne-prone, oily, dry, sensitive, or you need some anti-aging products, they’ve got you covered with researched formulations and products that actually do something.

I use their products and absolutely recommend them.

Products Of The Year

Hands down the most talked-about eyeshadow palette — nay, MAKEUP PRODUCT of this past year. I mean, look at it. Not only is it beautiful, but the quality is there. The eyeshadows are smooth, buttery, blendable, and pigmented. You can create any eye look with this palette, from natural to glam to colorful. The Modern Renaisssance Palette ($42) is one of ABH’s best products yet.

I haven’t been able to find a better eyeliner than Kat Von D’s Ink Liner ($20 – vegan). This year, they came out with several new shades (including a pure white!). This eyeliner makes applying winged liner easy because of the brush tip (which by the way is tiny and precise). Just a great product from Kat Von D.

For foundation, I went with a product that works the best for most skin types. The Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation ($45 – vegan) is the best foundation out there if you’re looking for medium coverage with a dewy finish. It looks like skin, feels lightweight, and looks lovely and natural while covering redness and imperfections.

Probably the most raved-about product of 2016 is Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer ($24 – vegan). This one was sold out everywhere! You can use it as an undereye or blemish concealer and it covers everything, or you can use it a lighter or darker shade to highlight and contour. The formula is perfect: opaque yet lightweight and super blendable!

Tarte itself is cruelty-free but they’re owned by Kose, a company that isn’t cruelty-free.

For mascara, I wanted to find a replacement for the infamous Too Faced Better Than Sex (recently acquired by Estee Lauder). Pacifica is a great 100% vegan and affordable brand, and they’re quite underrated. Their mascaras work surprisingly well, especially their Stellar Gaze Mascara ($14 – vegan). Give it a try! It’s affordable, natural, and the best cruelty-free drugstore mascara.

Liquid lipsticks aren’t going anywhere for 2017. They’re my favorite kind of lip product, and I love the matte look and longevity. The brand I went for for best liquid lipstick this year is Dose of Colors, which is cruelty-free, vegan, and Leaping Bunny-certified! These Matte Lipsticks ($18 – vegan) also made it to the very top of Stephanie Nicole’s list, and she’s tried them ALL.

If you prefer a more traditional lipstick, Bite Beauty makes the best ones out there: the Amuse Bouche Lipstick ($26). This collection is available in 45 shades (!) so you’re bound to find a few perfect matches. These lipsticks are creamy and moisturizing, yet they last a long time on your lips. These do contain beeswax, so keep in mind they’re not vegan.

There were so many new highlighter launches this year, and one of them is my new favorite: the Haloscope ($22) highlighter stick by Glossier. If you don’t like glittery highlights, this one’s for you! It gives you that sheen and glow without any chunks of glitter. Very pretty and quick to use, and it comes in 3 shades to match all skin tones.

I couldn’t not mention the Moonchild Palette ($40 – vegan) by Anastasia Beverly Hills, which is selling out everywhere. If you’re a fan of duochrome highlighter, this palette has 6 different shades to choose from and it’s Anastasia’s best highlighter palette yet.

If you’re a fan of MAC eyeshadows and you want to switch to something that’s cruelty-free, you need to get your hands on some Makeup Geek Eyeshadows ($6 each – mostly vegan). They’re just as good as MAC eyeshadows if not better, and your wallet will thank you. If you’re looking for vegan options, select the shade you want and click “Dimensions/Specs” to check if it’s vegan.

Kat Von D recently came up with a refillable version of their best-selling Shade & Light Face Contour Palette ($49). This is a great palette that fits most skin tones, and it now comes in a sturdy plastic palette. You can purchase refills for all the shades separately for only $16 each. This is a good investment in a great product.

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes ($38 – some vegan) are natural-looking but you can also build them up. What sets them apart from other higher-end blushes is that they provide a beautiful glow, similar to the Ambient Lighting Powders. These blushes are super pretty, very natural, and give you that perfect glow. They come in 7 shades from cool-toned to warm.

This is the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat ($22 – vegan) lip liner in the shade Pillow Talk. This shade works perfectly under any nude lipstick, and there are more shades to choose from for every skin tone. Charlotte Tilbury lip liners have the perfect consistency and they’re made to last all day.

This is the setting powder everyone is praising right now. The RCMA No Colour Powder ($12 – vegan) is used by makeup artists and it’s the softest powder out there. It blurs the skin, makes your makeup last longer, and it’s completely translucent so it works with every single skin tone. RCMA is cruelty-free and they’re in the process of getting their Leaping Bunny certification.

There’s no better primer than the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($54 – vegan). It does everything a primer should be doing: makes your foundation apply like a dream, gives you a flawless finish, and helps your makeup stay put for longer. If you can find a cruelty-free drugstore primer that’s comparable, let me know!

If you have oily eyelids or if you want your eyeshadow to stay put for hours, try the Milani Eyeshadow Primer. It’s a drugstore product and it’s very affordable, but it truly works. It’s also going to make sure your eyeshadow is poppin’.

I was skeptical when I first tried this lip balm, but the Rallye Balm ($15 – vegan) by Red Apple Lipstick is the best one I’ve tried. It’s vegan and contains Castor Oil and Shea Butter, and it helps a ton if you have dry or chapped lips. The consistency is perfect, and the packaging is fab and has that high-end feel.

For face moisturizer, I haven’t found anything better than the Mad Hippie Face Cream. It’s the perfect texture and gives you the perfect amount of moisture, and it’s full of powerful ingredients like Niacinamide. It works with all skin types, so give it a try if you’re looking for a great cruelty-free moisturizer!

I’ve gotten several questions about a cruelty-free micellar water in 2016. Finally, Pacifica launched their Kale Water Micellar Makeup Remover ($12 – vegan). It’s very similar to that certain micellar water out there that isn’t cruelty-free (you know the one) and but it’s also more affordable AND vegan. I believe it’s only available at Ulta at the moment.

I’m not a big user of makeup removing wipes myself, but I do get questions about them. The best cruelty-free option I’ve found this year is Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Radiance Cleansing Facial Wipes ($5.99). They’re gentle yet effective at removing all your makeup, and don’t contain harsh ingredients. They’re also biodegradable.

I looove Nubian Heritage Body Washes ($9.99 – vegan). Hands down my favorite cruelty-free shower gel. They’re thick and lather well, and they come in amazing scents. This year, Nubian Heritage redid their packaging and came up with a new collection: Abyssinian Oil & Chia Seed. The scent is heanvenly and it’s my new favorite shower gel.

The best shampoo this year is Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Restore Shampoo ($10.99 – vegan). It’s well-loved by many as it it works with all hair types from fine to coarse or straight to curly and makes your hair look stronger and healthier. Plus it contains Castor Oil which helps promote hair growth when you use it at the root!

Drybar got its Leaping Bunny certification this past year! They’re a big hair care brand available at Sephora and Ulta, so props to them. Their Detox Dry Shampoo ($23) works with ALL hair types. It absorbs any excess oil, but also adds a little bit of volume. It also doesn’t leave any white residue like some other dry shampoos.

This is a cult hair product that so many women swear by. It’s the Miracle Leave-In Product ($18) by It’s A 10, which has recently been certified by Leaping Bunny. It promises to repair dry damaged hair, adds shine, smoothes and controls frizz, detangles, prevents split ends, stops hair breakage, creates silkiness, and more. Basically, it does it all and it’s wonderful for damaged hair.

I picked up some Illamasqua Nail Varnishes ($18) after reading others’ recommendations, and I’m glad I did! They’re definitely the best nail polishes I own. They last longer without chipping and they apply more easily and smoothly. They also come in so many beautiful and unique shades.

Thanks for reading!

That’s it for this list! I hope you found some new cruelty-free to try out in 2017. Thank you so much for sticking around and reading, and don’t hesitate to share YOUR best products of 2016 in the comments!

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  • Samantha

    Thanks for the recommendations. 🙂 My only issue is none of the above is even close to being budget friendly.

    • Thanks Samantha, I’ll be working on a big post about budget-friendly cruelty-free products. 🙂

      • Samantha

        Yay! I look forward to it. 😉

  • Thank you for introducing these products. I will be trying out most of them!!

  • Jane

    The Pacifica Coconut Micellar Water is amazing.

  • mz

    I would love to see recommendations for cruelty free anti aging skin care and makeup (crease resistant foundations, concealers, etc. thank you

    • I’ll keep this in mind, thank you for the suggestion.

    • Intan Ananda Asri

      Try Farmacy. They’re cruelty free I believe.

  • dcdawn

    Love Vapour!!!

  • I really want to try a lightweight foundation so have really been torn between the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder foundation and the BECCA Aqua Luminous Perfecting foundation!

    No doubt I will buy both at some point as they have both been hyped up so much, but I was wondering what you and everyone else thought about them both?? I usually go for full coverage foundations but my skin has never been that horrendous so I’m starting to think “Oh god! Does my skin never look like my skin?!” so I’m trying to opt for some lightweight products!

    Thanks, happy new year everybody!

  • Jen

    Amazing list, Suzi! There’s so many products I still need to try and I’m one of those who’s obsessed with the leave in spray by It’s A 10, such an amazing product!!

  • Sandra Milena

    great list!! do you have a recommendation for tinted moisturizer/BB cream? I had been using Too Faced Beauty Balm, but would love to know if you or others have other preferred options!

    • I need medium-full coverage myself so I haven’t looked into BB creams much, but I need to make a post about them so I will!

  • Susan Peebles

    Thank you for the cruelty free shoppers guide. I went into David Jones yesterday and noticed that their own brand of make up is states on the back no animal testing and relatively cheap. Has anyone tried this product?

  • Angela Verna

    I’ve recently become more conscious of the products I use and have found some of my favorite, been using forever products are not cruelty free.

    For example, I’m old school and love me some Ponds Cold Cream. Ithe is the best product I have found to remove make up, especially eye make up, prior to washing my face. Anyone have a recommendation on a comparable product that isn’t tested on animals? I will and do buy from companies that don’t test on animals but are owned by parent companies that do. This is an overwhelming undertaking and I find there is duplicitous information put out by companies that sell to China, etc.

    I love Rimmel mascara, preferring it to any prestige brand I have tried. Buthe they are on my do not purchase list. Any recommendations there? I’m not picky about drug store vs. prestige products unless it comes to hair care. I will only use professional products on my hair. But I like trying all kinds of make up and skin care lines.

    Another tough one… skin care. Some of my favorite products are from Dermalogica. I’m hooked on the Renewel Lip Complex. I’ve been on that stuff for a decade. I have found no substitute that comes close. The best I have found is the Hempz lip balm. But I don’t love it… any ideas here?

    Happy New Year, all!

  • Absolutely! I have something planned, but it might take a little bit longer.

  • My boyfriend gets stuff like beard oil from smaller indie brands, so this might be something to look into. There’s also a Leaping Bunny certified brand called Bulldog for men’s skincare, as well as The Body Shop (note they’re owned by L’Oreal now).

  • Well I’ve definitely added to my shopping list, thanks! Love your blog, it’s one of my top cruelty-free resources!

    Amber
    amberbutbetter.blogspot.com

  • Hi Renata! I know what you mean about the deo. I think most people’s skin agrees with Schmidt’s Deodorant but there’s a minority that don’t. Right now I’m using one by Meow Meow Tweet that doesn’t have baking soda, but I wouldn’t say it’s just as efficient as the Schmidt’s. I’ll be reviewing it next week though!

    • Renata Saitan

      Thank you, Suzi! I will be waiting for your review 🙂 Happy Friday!

    • Kate

      There’s an awesome brand in Aus called WooHoo which is the best cruelty free and natural deo I have found…unfortunately I am one of the few who Schmidt’s doesn’t agree with…

  • Violettes

    How about Jack Black for men’s skin care? It’s on PETA’s list though not Leaping Bunny.

  • Huge Paula’s Choice fan! And still DYING to try Kat Von D make-up.

  • Samantha

    Yes I’m aware of this but there are affordable products that are cruelty free. Maybe not all organic. Also, many can not tolerate certain oils commonly used in organic products. I have several friends that are allergic. My personal choice is to go without if I can’t find something that matches to my preferences. I have friends that will not and most will not buy pricey items. So, I was asking mostly so I’d have a link to show them there are other choices besides animal testimony companies. Most will not buy the products I use due to the price (John Master’s for example).

    • khrysta marye

      You have a point. Also depending on where you live it might be difficult locating them

  • Sandra Milena

    thank you for the recommendation! a little outside my price range though. 🙂

  • Lisa

    100% in agreement with Paula’s Choice. Not only are they relatively affordable, but the fact that you can get samples is awesome (ALL companies should do this). Paula’s Choice also sells to many countries via their website, so I can easily get their products in Germany (unlike all the other brands listed here).

  • Thank you so much for this! I just discovered your website and I’m a massive fan. Thank you for all the resources x

    Jessica — NinetyCo

  • arwa

    Have you tried Bésame’s lipsticks? They are super lovely.

  • Caroline

    I love this list and everything on it! I was surprised to not see any SPF products though – any recommendations/favourites there?

  • Katie Crowder

    Thank you for this! There are several items I already have, and now several more on my wishlist 🙂 Question, have you ever tried LimeLight by Alcone products before? Their skin care is amazing…and leaping bunny certified!
    It IS a mlm, and I AM a Beauty Guide, but their products really do speak for themselves. If you’d ever like to (honestly) review some, I’d be more than happy to send several items.
    ~Katie Crowder

  • Laura Edwards

    Hello, I love your website and thank you for searching and recommending cruelty free products! I am doing research now when buying cosmetics but I have just brought a bag full of cosmetics from The Body Shop but notice they do not have a bunny certificate? Can you advice if they really are cruelty free please?
    Thank you
    Laura

    • Yes, The Body Shop is cruelty-free! They’re owned by L’Oreal (not cruelty-free) though.

      • Karla Castillo

        If a cruelty-free company is owned by a corporation that ISN’T cruelty-free, THAT COMPANY IS NO LONGER CRUELTY-FREE. Buying from the cruelty-free company would still put money in the pockets of the corporation that ISN’T CRUELTY-FREE. As such, if a company is owned by a corporation that isn’t cruelty-free, and/or if they sell their products in China, where animal testing is required by law, they are NOT CRUELTY-FREE.

  • Karla Castillo

    I don’t understand why Tarte is on the list if their cruelty-free status is in question. Tarte is now owned by Kose, a Japanese company with LESS STRICT RULES ON ANIMAL TESTING.

  • Karla Castillo

    If a “cruelty-free” company is owned by a corporation that ISN’T cruelty-free, THAT COMPANY IS NO LONGER CRUELTY-FREE. Buying from the cruelty-free company would still put money in the pockets of the corporation that ISN’T CRUELTY-FREE. As such, if a company is owned by a corporation that isn’t cruelty-free, and/or if they sell their products in China, where animal testing is required by law, they are NOT CRUELTY-FREE.

  • Kat Murphy

    I love ELF’s mist and set spray. It’s also doesn’t have alcohol as one of the main ingredients like most setting sprays do including all nighter.

  • Jenna Sativa

    What are the best vegan BB creams of 2017?

    • I literally just scheduled a post about BB Creams today! Tarte BB Tinted Treatment is the best-rated one (the post will be up on Friday).