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Upgrade Your Beauty Bag With These Vegan Makeup Brands

by Suka Junin

Jul 15, 2022

Veganism is no longer just a dietary choice. Now, with more vegan makeup brands than ever on the market, it's easy to ensure your beauty bag is free from animal products too.

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The growth of the vegan makeup industry

Many commercial makeup products contain animal ingredients. Squalane, for instance, sometimes comes from shark liver oil. The ingredient can be found in some foundations and eye makeup products.

Meanwhile, collagen (fibrous protein from animal tissue) and lanolin (sheep's wool wax) are used in lip-plumping glosses and lipsticks.

But there are vegan alternatives to these ingredients. Squalane can be made with plant-derived ingredients, like olives and sugarcane, and avocado oil can also nourish and smooth. Plus, kokum butter can replace collagen in lip products.

Many commercial makeup brands use animal products because they're more cost-effective and easier to acquire. But the number of vegan makeup brands is rising.

According to market research, the vegan cosmetics market is set to reach $28.5 billion globally by 2031. This is, in part, thanks to the increasing vegan and vegetarian population, but also an increase in disposable incomes. (The latter has started to slow down now, however.)

Benefits of Using Vegan Makeup

  • Friendly on the skin. Often, vegan makeup contains gentle yet effective ingredients, like natural oils. Jojoba oil, for example, can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Prickly pear oil moisturizes. Avocado oil contains an abundance of minerals and vitamins. This makes it suitable for those with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema.
  • Better for the planet. Vegan makeup brands frequently support animal welfare and use recyclable or biodegradable packaging. But it's important to note that "vegan" does not always equal better for the planet. (For example, palm oil is technically vegan, but its production is terrible for the environment.) Some vegan cosmetics are also packaged in plastic. So if being both vegan and sustainable is a priority for you, make sure to look up brand values before you buy.
  • Innovative ingredients. Don’t underestimate the innovative powers of the vegan makeup industry. Conventional animal-derived ingredients are consistently being replaced with vegan alternatives. Biodesign company Geltor has even created an animal-free bioidentical human collagen, produced through plant-based bacterial fermentation.

Does vegan makeup mean it’s natural?

We often assume that when a brand prioritizes sustainability or ethics in some way, that means it’s natural. But "natural" is an incredibly broad category. It means anything that comes from nature: botanicals, minerals, and even animals. This means that not all vegan makeup is necessarily natural, or vice versa.

The best way to find out if your vegan cosmetics are natural is to read the ingredients label. Looking up the brand’s ethos and practices helps too.

Are vegan makeup products cruelty-free?

The “vegan” label (which isn't regulated) just indicates that a product doesn’t contain animal ingredients. This means that products tested on animals can also claim to be vegan, so always look for a cruelty-free certification (or check our database!) before you buy.

What makeup brands are vegan and cruelty-free? 

To help you in your search for top-quality, ethical makeup, we’ve found 15 brands offering vegan and cruelty-free products.

The Best Vegan Makeup Brands

Fully VeganYes
Clean BeautyNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Elf Cosmetics makes affordable, quality makeup for eyes, lips, and faces. All of its formulas are 100 percent vegan with no phthalates or parabens or sulfates.

On top of this, since 2016, its makeup brushes have been completely vegan. (While the brand's older makeup brushes were made from animal hair, any brushes purchased now are made from synthetic fibers.)

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Known for its best-selling skincare products, vegan and cruelty-free Pacifica also has a variety of cosmetics for the face, lips, and nails. The brand aims to do right by the planet, from ingredients to packaging.

Pacifica looks to nature for inspiration for its makeup. Many of its products highlight a particular natural ingredient, such as coconut water or wild cherry, for example. Its award-winning, glass-encased, Fluffy Brush Mascara features Geltor's Collume ingredient, a vegan, bio-designed marine collagen. The mascara conditions, hydrates, and adds volume.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Given that this brand got its name from a lifeguard stand in Santa Monica, safety is not just a buzzword for Tower 28. In fact, it was the first beauty brand to follow the National Eczema Association’s Ingredient Guidelines. This means its products are safe for the most sensitive of skin types.

Tower 28's products are made with non-toxic ingredients that won’t irritate the skin. Tower 28 has always been cruelty-free and vegan, excluding animal-derived ingredients like fats, oils, and musk.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsYes

KVD Vegan Beauty has been cruelty-free since its launch in 2008. The brand released its first vegan product, the iconic Tattoo Liner, two years later.

KVD Vegan Beauty reformulated its products and became a fully vegan cosmetics brand in 2016. While founder and tattoo artist Kat Von D has now stepped down, the brand's signature bold colors and edgy packaging remain.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Look past its "cool girl" aesthetics and you’ll find Milk Makeup’s product philosophy is as simple as using its makeup. Sourcing sustainable, paraben-free, and 100 percent vegan ingredients is what it takes to create effective products.

Milk Makeup also promises to be transparent with its customers. It never tests on animals and consistently tries to prioritize the environment by using less plastic and launching refillable cartridges.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

With the exception of its liquid lipstick, Cover FX only produces skin cosmetics. If you’re after foundations, concealers, bronzers, or contours, it's worth checking out. Its foundation has a range of 40 shades and four undertones. (You can easily find your match through a quick series of questions!)

Cover FX also has its own line of vegan makeup brushes. The brand's products are also formulated without parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil, talc, phthalates, coal tar, and paraffin.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Beauty newcomer Merit prides itself on simple, buildable, easy-to-use makeup.

While founder Katherine Power grew up wearing the legacy prestige brands her mother introduced her to, she always went for natural-looking products. (Think Yves Saint Laurent and Lancôme, with gold-look finishes on their packaging and classic lipstick shades.)

From this, she wanted to create what those brands offered but replace them with vegan formulas and affordable prices.

Fully veganYes
CleanYes
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Vegan, cruelty-free, and natural? It is possible to have it all according to Au Naturale.

To get to the end product, each ingredient must be thoroughly vetted. Only ingredients that are ethically sound, organically grown, and naturally derived make it to the final product.

Au Naturale filled a gap in the market for full-spectrum vegan color play while maintaining all-day wear. And its award-winning bold mascara offers a fully natural, vegan mascara that actually works.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Cheekbone Beauty is an Indigenous-owned cosmetics brand known for environmentally conscious packaging.

Founder Jenn Harper launched SUSTAIN Lipstick, a low-waste line of lipsticks, in 2020. The packaging is 85 percent compostable and made of biodegradable paper. Plus, its eyeshadow pencils are made with wood from FSC-certified forests. These forests are council-managed and provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Meanwhile, its aluminum packaging, used for its Moon Dust powder, can be repurposed or refilled.

On top of Cheekbone Beauty’s sustainable designs, all its products are vegan and cruelty-free.

Fully veganYes
CleanYes
OrganicYes
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Do you know what ingredients go into making traditional lipsticks? You'd be surprised. (Maybe even horrified!) Axiology’s founder, Ericka Rodriguez certainly was. So she developed her own ethical lipstick formula that consists of only 10 ingredients.

Ericka strived to make vegan lipsticks that weren’t super drying and ended up creating Axiology's award-winning Balmies. The Crayola-esque lipsticks are wrapped in recycled paper and stored in boxes made from 100 percent recycled paper waste. Although Axiology's Balmies feel like lip balm, their pigment and durability resemble lipstick.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

There was a time when there just weren’t enough shades to match every unique skin tone. When Range Beauty founder Alicia Scott noticed the limited and expensive options for the right shade and undertones, she created Range Beauty.

Most of the options on the market had skin-irritating formulas, so Scott came up with her own solution. Her formulas don't trigger eczema or acne, but also comes in a diverse range of colors at affordable prices.

Range Beauty's best-seller True Intentions Hydrating Foundation includes skin-nourishing botanicals like calendula, chamomile, and argan oil.

Fully veganYes
CleanNo
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Vegan beauty, deep shade ranges, and high-performance makeup do exist. At Lys Beauty, you’ll find universal shade offerings with formulas free of any animal-derived ingredients.

What’s more, each product from Lys Beauty is under $30, making vegan beauty accessible to every budget.  

Fully veganYes
CleanYes
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

You know you're in for some killer products when a beauty brand is founded by a makeup artist.

Without losing out on bold and highly pigmented cosmetics, Clove + Hallow's products are all 100 percent vegan, made with 15 ingredients or less.

For no-fuss makeup that does the job, Clove + Hallow offers all the essential basics. It has pressed foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, lip lacquer, and eyeshadow palettes. You can even refill and reuse most of its makeup pans.

Fully veganNo
CleanYes
OrganicNo
Parent company tests on animalsNo

100% Pure’s co-founder Susie Wang discovered that fruit pigments can easily replace color additives and heavy metal dye. But they can still provide the skin with essential nutrients and hydration.

The brand uses only fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee, and cocoa to color its whole collection of makeup products.

100% Pure is currently transitioning to a fully vegan brand. A few of its products still contain animal-derived ingredients like milk enzymes, beeswax, or honey. But it lists all its ingredients on each product page, so it's easy to spot if a product is vegan or not.

Fully veganYes
CleanYes
OrganicYes
Parent company tests on animalsNo

Back in 2006, Inika Organic saw the opportunity to lead the way to healthy, toxin-free beauty. It developed the first 100 percent natural skincare range; its products are infused with pure botanical extracts and rich mineral pigments.

This Australian-owned brand offers natural shades, with bronze, gold, and brown hues. As well as giving you that enviable glow, its makeup also nourishes and repairs the skin.

Inika Organic also promotes sustainability through its packaging. It has even earned the title of the first Certified Plastic Neutral makeup brand.

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About The Author

Suka Junin

Suka is a writer with a passion for creating content around all things makeup, beauty, and skincare. With one article at a time, she’s keen in making a difference through her writing by promoting clean and sustainable living.

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