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Top 10 Cruelty-Free Skincare Brands

by Katie Muirhead

Jul 16, 2021

When it comes to skincare, the sheer array of brands and products on the market can be, frankly, overwhelming. Even when you narrow down the options by opting for cruelty-free only, finding your faves can take years of trial and error (and a lot of dollars!)

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While everyone's skin is different, there tend to be brands that become crowd favorites for a reason. While your specific skin concerns may require searching for products with targetted ingredients, using a brand you know and trust can be a great place to start.

Here is our round up of our top 10 cruelty-free skincare brands. While they may differ in price point, product types, and skin concerns targetted, they all offer products that are effective across the range.

Drunk Elephant

You may recognize their colorful packaging, but Drunk Elephant makes the list for their targetted range of active-led skincare. They take a science-based approach to biocompatability, focussing less on whether a product is "natural" or not, and more on how it interacts with the skin.

With products targetting a range of concerns, from fine lines to uneven skin tone, there is likely a Drunk Elephant product to perfectly suit your routine. Try the Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer for a hydrating staple to support the skin barrier, or the antioxidant-rich C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum to target dullness and dark spots.

The Ordinary

This ultra-affordable, ingredient-led brand has earned its way into the routines of teens and celebs alike. With many products costing under $10, their targetted products rival much more expensive skincare competitors. Perhaps the brand to start the trend of using scientific names of active ingredients (L-Ascorbic acid, anyone?), they take a scientific approach to a skincare routine.

The Ordinary has such a vast range of products that the difficulty will be narrowing down which ones are right for you - the more active ingredients in a routine, the higher the risk of irritation. Their website offers a Regimen Builder to help you understand how different targetted products can be used together, and which ones shouldn't be mixed.

Bestsellers include the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (the one of internet fame that looks like blood!), the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum, and the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum. Whichever products you choose from this brand, the great news is that it won't break the bank.

OSEA Malibu

Inspired by the beneficial, skin-healing properties of seaweed, OSEA Malibu is a vegan skincare brand for both face and body. Started by a mother-daughter duo, the brand focuses on clean, plant-based ingredients. By sourcing their seaweed themselves, they aim to create more effective and nutrient-rich products than others on the market.

Bestsellers inclue the Undaria Algae Body Oil, an antioxidant-packed elixir for the whole body, and the Hyaluronic Sea Serum, a concentrated serum of hyaluronic acid and seaweed extracts to hydrate and plump the skin. If you're looking for a natural brand with an intentional production process, OSEA Malibu may be your new go-to.

Weleda

Over the last 100 years, this European brand has earned its place as a skincare favorite. Founded on the principles of aligning nature and the body, Weleda makes affordable, effective products for face, body, baby, hair, and oral hygiene.

Perhaps most widely recognized is their cult-favorite Skin Food - an ultra-rich moisturizer that helps treat even the dryest skin. They also offer a range of popular body oils to soothe and protect, including a Birch Cellulite Oil and an Arnica Muscle Massage Oil. Available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, this accessible brand offers staple skincare solutions for the whole family.

Sunday Riley

With a balance between science and botanicals, Sunday Riley is a brand that creates targetted, effective skincare to treat a range of concerns. With advanced ingredient technologies, this brand uses the power of nature and supercharges it in the lab. Committed to small batches with high-quality ingredients, this brand focuses on consistently making their products cleaner and greener.

Brand faves include the Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment for brightening and firming, and the Luna Sleeping Night Oil with retinol (and a recognizable blue color!) With a price point that sits between drugstore and designer, Sunday Riley is well worth the splurge.

Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe creates fun, colorfully packaged products that harness the power of fruit to enhance your skin's natural glow. Their products are targetted yet easy to use, designed to fit seamlessly into your skincare routine. Costing between $15 and $45, Glow Recipe is reasonably affordable, with a range of products for varying skin concerns.

The Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner aims to both hydrate and minimize the appearance of pores, and with a matching scent the Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops helps soothe irritated skin while providing hydration for dull skin. With their fun fragrances and colors, Glow Recipe makes skincare that is both effective and joyful, giving you a glow to match.

Murad

Murad's targetted skincare brand offers a range of products for a variety of skincare concerns. With their color-coded branding, it is easy to identify whether a product is right for you. Their blue line is for acne and oil control, green for treating the signs of aging, purple for dry or sensitive skin, and orange for dull or uneven skin tone. With active ingredients ranging from vitamin C to retinol, this science-backed brand offers products for a complete skin regimen.

With prices between $36 and $89, this mid-priced brand is more accessible than many other competitors. Bestsellers include their Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum that contains tranexamic and glycolic acids to brighten hyperpigmentation, and the Retinol Youth Renewal Serum to reduce the look of fine lines while boosting hydration.

Ole Henriksen

Ole Henriksen is another brand that delivers science-backed products using natural ingredients. Developed by Danish Henriksen in Los Angeles, this brand features simple, effective products that are intended to spark joy in your skincare routine. With an extensive range of products for different skin concerns, Ole Henriksen offers skincare solutions for different stages of life.

Crowd favorite products include the vitamin C-infused Banana Bright Eye Crème and the Balancing Force Oil Control Toner for acne-prone skin. Their products use active ingredients that are intended to be combined into an effective skincare routine for a range of skin type.

Acure

This affordable skincare brand was built on the understanding that the products we use on our skin can affect our overall health. Acure makes a range of products to treat a range of skin types, from acne-prone to aging skin. Their natural, organic products are produced with a focus on sustainability, which is why they are also biodegradable.

Favorites include the Brightening Cleansing Gel, a vegan formula that promotes a natural glow, and the Radically Rejuvinating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum, a gentle retinol-alternative to treat the signs of aging. Available at many grocery and health food stores, this brand is widely accessible and convenient.

Kora Organics

Created by Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr, Kora Organics was developed to nurture skin health as a factor in overall health. Along with consultants in microbiology, aromatherapy, and organic chemistry, Kerr helped develop the organic products to promote glowing skin with natural active ingredients such as Noni Extract, Rosehip Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, and Green Tea.

Top-rated Kora Organics products include the Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum to address dull skin and hyperpigmentation, and the Noni Night AHA Resurfacing Serum to gently exfoliate dead skin cells overnight. This mid-priced brand was originally launched in Australia, though is now available in over 30 countries across the world.

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Katie Muirhead

Katie is an Australian-born, Brooklyn-based writer with a love for all things beauty. She believes that a holistic approach to health and skincare is the best concealer there is. She preaches that less is more when it comes to skincare and makeup, and that it's crucial to understand the science behind a product.

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