Did you know that animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics in China? That means any of your favorite brands sold in the biggest retail market on Earth are *not* cruelty-free — including anything manufactured by L'Oreal or Shiseido. Proudly humane brand Wet n Wild was recently exposed for quietly expanding their products into mainland China, possibly stripping them of their cruelty-free status and making us question which of our favorite Leaping Bunny certified brands aren't so ethical after all.
Even though Urban Decay, BareMinerals, Tarte, Buxom, and NYX are also marketed as humane companies, purchasing their products (tragically including the Naked Palette collection) still ultimately benefits their parent companies who have chosen to test on animals. Opinions vary on whether it's better to still buy from cruelty-free brands that are owned by questionable parent companies in order to show that becoming an ethical brand can help sales or to avoid giving money to brands that allowed themselves to be sold to non-ethical corporations, and it's entirely your decision which school of thought to follow. We've rounded-up eight cruelty-free makeup brands that are *actually* humane for your consideration, and a lot of them are vegan, too!
You might remember Glossier from our list of skincare products that can give you a perfect summer glow. While they're best known for their serums and highlighters, this dewy daydream of a company manufactures everything from brow tint and mascara to foundation and concealer while remaining cruelty-free *and* largely vegan. The brand does use beeswax, ambrettolide, and honey in some of their products according to Ethical Elephant, meaning they aren't a fully vegan company, but neither Glossier nor their suppliers test on animals. Naturally, the brand also refrains from selling its products in China in order to keep their brand humane.
There is a God, and she made Too Faced's Better Than Sex mascara vegan and cruelty-free. While the waterproof version of the cult product contains beeswax, the OG wand that started it all remains a great option for those of us who want to keep animals far, far away from the sh*t we use to beat our face. Too Faced even offers a breakdown of their vegan-friendly products on their official website (including their makeup brushes!), making ethical spending easier than ever. Full disclosure: Too Faced was purchased by Estée Lauder, a parent company that condones animal testing, in 2018, placing it alongside Urban Decay and Tarte in that lowkey grey-area where ethical spending might not actually be that ethical. TBH, we're still including it in the list just because their Better Than Sex mascara is bomb AF and we don't know how to feel.
You don't have to spend the big bucks to shop ethically. E.l.f. is super cheap, fully vegan, and cruelty-free. All of their brushes, skincare products, and makeup are vegan, and the brand has discontinued any products that were made with horse hair or beeswax beginning in 2019. Ethical Elephant did some digging to make sure this drugstore brand is really keeping it 100 (and after the wet n wild fiasco, we can never be too careful), and we are proud to report that their five-dollar ethical vegan concealer isn't too good to be true. Finances are officially no longer an excuse to buy products that were tested on animals, sorry not sorry.
Anastasia Beverly Hills might be the GOAT of brows, but no goats were harmed in the making of these palettes. The Anastasia brand prides itself on making prestige products that remain cruelty-free through formulation, testing, and development. While they're best known for their Golden Ratio Eyebrow Shaping and their brow gels, the brand's Soft Glam Palette was the top cosmetics launch in all of 2018 and their shimmer body oils could make the sun squint. The company is independently owned, so you can rest assured that all of your hard earned cash is funding cruelty-free endeavors.
Clearly, Burt's Bees isn't vegan. There was a brief moment where the company's cruelty-free status was called into question because of its sales in China, which we've learned is basically the death knoll for humane makeup production. Luckily, the brand has since clarified on their website that they only sell in China via direct-to-consumer e-commerce (so, like, online shopping), which is exempt from the country's animal testing mandates. Even their ingredients aren't tested on animals, and the company has launched multiple campaigns to help save the bees and contribute to environmentally ethical practices as well. For those reasons, we've kept Burt's Bees on our ethically friendly list despite their 2007 acquisition by Clorox, an animal testing-friendly brand and a wildly random business partner.
While Marc Jacobs Fragrances does test on animals, it's a completely separate company from Marc Jacobs Beauty, so you should have no qualms about boycotting the former while basking in the glory of Marc Jacobs Beauty's eye-conic shadow palettes. Marc Jacobs Beauty is owned by Kendo, a cruelty-free company that also carries humane brands like Kat Von D, Bite, Ole Henriksen, and Formula X. It has nothing to do with Marc Jacobs Fragrances, which is owned by Coty, a company that will test on animals if required by law but does not sell all of its brands in China. The brand name is carried in two vastly different lines because of weird licensing laws that Cruelty-Free Kitty breaks down better than we ever could, but rest assured that supporting Marc Jacobs Beauty means supporting Kendo and its humane practices, not Coty's weird will-they-or-won't-they grey areas.
ColourPop is cruelty-free and owned by Seed Beauty, a cruelty-free parent company. Talk about a relief. They're mostly vegan, with a few exceptions listed on their website, and they only use ingredients from cruelty-free suppliers. This is a major W for ethically-conscious MUAs, since ColourPop is both dirt cheap and extremely high quality. While the brand is known for its liquid lipsticks, lippie pencils, and glosses, ColourPop's various eyeshadows are hyper-pigmented and hyper-awesome as well.
If ColourPop is cruelty-free, you know Kylie Cosmetics is, too. Since, you know, they're basically the same brand. Seed Beauty was created by ColourPop's owners to expand their empire and allow the dynamic duo of Laura and John Nelson to control the creative and logistical aspects of their beauty businesses. They already owned Spatz Laboratories, the manufacturer of ColourPop, Kylie Cosmetics, and plenty of other cruelty-free labels, so the birth of Seed allowed the Nelsons to essentially vertically integrate their burgeoning empire. Kylie Jenner launched her label through an incubation program with Seed, which gave her creative control while using Spatz Labs and Seed's resources to manufacture her products. Medium is quick to point out that Kylie's formulas are different and Kylie's colors are entirely her creative vision, but they're still 99% humane — literally only one lip kit isn't vegan.