Don't worry, you don't have to sacrifice efficacy to make the switch.
If you care about animal welfare, maybe you've gone vegan, stopped wearing leather, or even just tried to be flexitarian (any little bit counts!). But there's one sneaky place that animal-derived ingredients may be hiding: Your makeup products. Not only that, but some brands may test on animals — even if the ingredients are technically vegan.
Animal ingredients in your lipstick or eyeshadow are actually much more common than you might think. Some products are made with animal fats like tallow (for hydration), beeswax (which acts as a structurant to help make formulas occlusive), or even more cringe-worthy ingredients like carmine, a deep red pigment made with insects found in many red lipsticks.
As for testing on animals, many companies have begun phasing out the practice, but unfortunately, it still happens. Here's what you need to know about vegan and cruelty-free products:
While many big-name brands aren't vegan or cruelty-free, that doesn't mean that vegan and cruelty-free makeup is any less efficacious or exciting.
It can be challenging to find vegan makeup, and even more challenging to find brands that have committed to being completely vegan. Some brands may claim veganism but still sell products that contain animal-derived ingredients like manuka honey. Most vegan brands also don't have any third party certification to back up their claims of veganism and keep them accountable. Finding truly vegan brands takes a bit of research and digging — which is exactly what we've done below.
Unlike vegan brands, it's much easier to find cruelty-free products, thanks to third party certifications that assure consumers their practices do not involve animal testing. A Leaping Bunny certification demonstrates to consumers that neither the product nor its ingredients are currently being tested on animals. As such, we at Good Housekeeping consider this the gold standard of cruelty-free certifications.
Keep in mind: Many vegan brands are also cruelty-free, but it doesn't always go the other way around.
The Good Housekeeping Institute has a century-plus-long history of keeping brands accountable and conducting independent research to debunk marketing claims. In this case, we reached out to popular "vegan" brands to see if each could verify its claims of veganism and support with evidence. We asked each brand its definition of vegan makeup, how it ensures that products meet these standards, and why veganism is important to the brand's ethos. Out of the 14 brands we reached out to, we heard back from eight — and one told us it wasn't fully vegan.
We asked each cruelty-free brand its definition of cruelty-free, as well as evidence of a Leaping Bunny certification as proof. As such, we have only included cruelty-free brands that have Leaping Bunny certifications. We reached out to 11 brands, and six provided us with sufficient evidence.
Below, we rounded up our favorite, trusted vegan and cruelty-free brands — some of which you may not have even known were vegan or cruelty-free. Each brand has been vetted by the GH Institute, so you can be sure that what you're buying lives up to its promises: