Whether you’ve recently gone vegan or been living a vegan lifestyle for a while, looking for vegan-friendly makeup brands can be a challenge. Search for any variety in “makeup brands” and Google gives you more than two billion results. The search can be categorised into countless groups—price points (affordable to high-end), features (brows, eyes, cheeks, and lips), or skin types (acne prone, sensitive, aging, to name a few)—all with a mission to make the wearer feel beautiful and confident. Thankfully, vegan brands are making their presence felt more and more each day. These makeup brands are known for being vegan and cruelty free. If you’re still looking for which vegan makeup brands to support and use, this Waldo’s Friends article offers help by answering the questions:
- What does it mean to be a vegan makeup brand?
- What does it mean to be a cruelty free makeup brand?
- Which organisations certify that a makeup brand is vegan and/or cruelty free?
- How can you tell if a makeup brand is both vegan and cruelty free?
- Which vegan and cruelty free makeup brands can you support?
What does it mean to be a vegan makeup brand?
Veganism is defined by The Vegan Society as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans, and the environment.”
Meat, seafood, dairy, fur, leather, wool, and silk are examples of animal-derived products that vegans do not eat or use. Honey, beeswax, gelatin, yogurt, lanolin, squalene, carmine, ambergris, and placenta are the most common animal ingredients and by-products found in makeup. Unsustainable Magazine shares where some ingredients come from, and how they are used in cosmetic items:
- Beeswax: from the honeycomb of bees; used in lipsticks and mascaras
- Carmine: a red pigment from crushed insects; found in lipsticks and blushes
- Guanine: derived from fish scales; found in mascaras and lipsticks
- Lanolin: a wax or grease produced by sheep; found in eyeshadows
If a cosmetic company claims to be 100% vegan, they should not use any ingredients or by-products from animals. Check out PETA’s comprehensive list of animal-derived ingredients, and discover better alternatives you can use.
What does it mean to be a cruelty free makeup brand?
Cruelty free, on the other hand, focuses on the development and manufacturing of products without inhumane experimenting on animals. For makeup brands, this includes not testing raw ingredients, formulations, and final products on unwilling creatures anywhere in the world.
To be considered truly cruelty free, suppliers of ingredients, local governments, and third parties should not conduct tests on the brand’s behalf. Moreover, they should not be sold in countries such as China that have mandatory animal testing laws.
Which organisations certify that a makeup brand is vegan and/or cruelty free?
There is no single globally accepted institution that regulates vegan and cruelty free labels, so any makeup brand can claim to be vegan, cruelty free, or both. However, there are existing organisations that certify if a makeup brand or its company is vegan or cruelty free. Companies willingly file an application to these groups, pay the fees, and provide the necessary documents and proof to gain certification.
Makeup brands can get vegan product certifications from organisations such as The Vegan Society or Vegan Action.
The Vegan Society currently has its Vegan Trademark on over 53,000 registered products including cosmetics, clothing, food, drink, and household items. They prefer to assess products than companies, stating, “We’ve found that it encourages companies to further develop and improve the labelling on vegan options in their wider portfolio of products. By encouraging the development of vegan options, and improving the labelling on suitable products, we have helped to make a vegan lifestyle even more accessible, appealing, and often more affordable, too. In turn, registration further promotes ‘vegan’ as a household name.”
Similar to The Vegan Society, Vegan Action works to certify products instead of companies. It has become one of the most trusted and recognised certified vegan logos in North America since its creation in 1995, and has vetted over 10,000 vegan products from 1,078 companies. Aside from not containing animal-derived ingredients, Vegan Action requires that there must be no animal GMOs found in them, and no animal testing done on the ingredients or products. As such, you can be assured that their vegan-certified items are also cruelty free!
Cruelty free certification
Cosmetic brands can apply for cruelty free certifications from Beauty Without Bunnies by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) or Leaping Bunny Program by Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics in the US and Canada. Cruelty Free International is another organisation that advocates for animal protection, but it has partnered with Leaping Bunny since June 2021.
As of writing, PETA has over 5,550 certified global companies in their Beauty Without Bunnies database that don’t test on animals. They even have a special category for vegan companies that do not conduct animal tests. PETA requires companies to prove their raw ingredients, formulations, and finished products are not tested on animals anywhere in the world. Applicants must also share what kinds of products they offer, which ingredients they use, how they test their products, and where their products are sold. However, they do not conduct audits nor require documents from suppliers, simply relying on the honesty and accuracy of the company.
Leaping Bunny Program currently has over 2,113 certified cruelty free brands ranging from cosmetics to personal care. To be certified as cruelty free by Leaping Bunny, a company must not conduct or commission animal testing on its products, formulations, and ingredients. It should not purchase ingredients, formulations, and products from suppliers or third party manufacturers that test on animals. Additionally, it should be willing to undergo independent auditing and annual recommitment.
How can you tell if a makeup brand is both vegan and cruelty free?
A makeup brand can only be considered vegan AND cruelty free if it meets these conditions:
- It does not use any animal-derived ingredients or by-products
- Its raw ingredients, formulations, or final products are not tested on animals at any point and from anywhere in the world
- Its suppliers and third parties do not conduct animal tests on their behalf
Makeup brands may claim to be both vegan and cruelty free, but to be certain of their claims, it helps to visit their website and check their existing certifications. It’s also important to check the ingredients of the product you plan to buy to verify if they are really vegan-friendly. For example, some certifying organisations do not consider pearl, silk, or carmine to be animal-derived ingredients.
Additionally, official vegan and cruelty free logos may indicate the certified status of a product, but not all brands use them because of licensing fees.
Which vegan and cruelty free makeup brands can you support?
Following the conditions above, you can support these certified vegan and cruelty free makeup brands we’ve reviewed on Waldo’s Friends:
- Adorn Cosmetics
- Alexami Cosmetics
- Australis Cosmetics
- Colour by TBN
- Designer Brands
- Eco Minerals
- Fairy Girl
- INIKA Organic
- Kester Black
- LUSH Cosmetics
- Megan Potter
- Raww Cosmetics
- REB Cosmetics
- Yuva Skin Care
- Zuii Organic
More than just vegan makeup, you can find clothing, home, and travel products perfect for vegans in this ultimate gift guide. You can also discover which hair care, skin care, and personal care brands are cruelty free in our blog.