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11 Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands You Can Feel Good About Shopping

Photo Courtesy of RMS Beauty

Many brands—new and old—are in the process of bettering themselves for their consumers, the environment, and the world in general. From blue beauty to vegan makeup, brands and buyers are becoming more cognizant of not just what’s being bought, but how it’s being made. So it’s no surprise that more and more cosmetics companies are hopping on board with cruelty-free messaging. But what does cruelty mean, exactly? And what makeup brands are actually embracing cruelty-free practices? We did a deep dive to find out.

What is cruelty-free makeup?

It’s important to note that the term cruelty-free is not regulated by the FDA. That means that brands can technically put it on their products without adhering to any strict policies or guidelines. Additionally, while more than 41 countries have passed laws to limit or ban cosmetics animal testing, only a select few U.S. states have done so, so it can get a bit murky. However, the general consensus is that when a brand uses the term “cruelty-free” on its packaging it means the materials or products are not tested on animals.

 When looking for cruelty-free products, keep an eye out for the global Leaping Bunny logo, a sign that means a brand has gone above and beyond strict no animal testing and is making a genuine commitment to ending the practice on a widespread scale. Through its independent audits, the Leaping Bunny program is considered the gold standard of cruelty-free claims. There’s also Beauty Without Bunnies by PETA, another logo you can look out for. If you’re curious about a brand’s stance on its cruelty-free methodology, visit its website for an official statement., or search the brand name on PETA or the Leaping Bunny.

In the meantime, we’ve done some of the work for you and looked into the best cruelty-free makeup brands that have clear messaging about never testing on animals in any way. These brands are not only reputable but have a strong stance on keeping their products out of animals’ skin, eyes, fur, and bodies.

With a focus on environmentalism, wellness, and healthy beauty ingredients, it’s no wonder this good-for-you beauty brand is also cruelty-free and backed by PETA. During her pregnancy, founder Karen Behnke wanted luxury makeup and skincare formulas that were organic and all-around healthy. This request can be seen in the best-selling Stem Cellular CC Cream and the newest addition, Phyto-Pigments Lash Defining Mascara Sonoma Nights. The CC cream provides radiant coverage alongside SPF 30 protection, while the mascara nourishes and intensifies lashes for stunning results. 

Bright, colorful, and totally chic, Smith & Cult delivers beautiful cruelty-free formulas in great packaging you’ll want to show off. You can also feel good knowing that neither its suppliers nor any third parties test on animals. The best-selling Veiled Threat Weightless Micro-Blurring is a medium-coverage foundation that delivers a boost of hydration thanks to aloe vera and a soft-focus finish. Plus, it comes in an extensive 42 shades. Meanwhile, the Get Lit Lips offers vibrant hues of red and pink in a moisturizing, soothing formula. 

Wander Beauty is a vegan brand that also utilizes cruelty-free practices and is Leaping Bunny certified. The brand does not test its products or ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world. It’s beloved for its multi-tasking beauty essentials. An absolute favorite is the Upgrade Lashes Treatment Mascara, which makes lashes appear full and long without clumping. There’s also the new Double Date Eyeshadow Duo that houses two seamlessly curated eyeshadow shades—one cream for the base and a shimmer powder for dimension—for easy no-fuss application. 

Calling all cool kids! For an effortless makeup look, no brand does it better than Glossier. From their launch in 2014, they’ve been churning out no-makeup makeup that’s ideal for everyday wear. For instance, there’s the cult classic Boy Brow for fluffy, full brows a la Cara Delevingne. Then there’s one of the newer favorites, Cloud Paint, an incredibly blendable, liquid blush that creates a natural flush.

Hourglass Cosmetics is not only committed to not testing products on animals, but it also donates 1 percent of all profits to the Nonhuman Rights Project. Plus, it’s backed by PETA. Test out the weightless Vanish Airbrush Concealer for impressive 16-hour coverage, or, if it’s a glow-from-within you’re after, look no further than the beautifully marbled  Ambient Lighting Blush.

Bite Beauty is Leaping Bunny certified, so you know it’s legit when it comes to its cruelty-free practices. They’ve also expanded from their initial product offerings of luscious lipsticks to more cosmetics. Oh, and it’s vegan. Grab the  Upswing Full-Volume Mascara for a lightweight, smudge-resistant finish that gives lashes lift and length. Or, stick to what the brand is known for and opt for the Power Move Hydrating Soft Matte Lipstick. The formula is hydrating and the pigment stays put for comfortable longwear.

Another super cool makeup brand, Milk Makeup is like  Glossier for those who want to experience bolder, wilder makeup looks. It also became Leaping Bunny certified in 2019. Play with the makeup’s vibrant hues by starting with the best-selling Hydro Grip Primer, a primer that provides a hydrating base for up to 12 hours. Another great base is the new Sunshine Under Eye Tint + Brighten, which delivers light coverage to help eyes appear brightened and refreshed.

Smashbox has been around since 1996, and it has launched all kinds of innovative and iconic makeup formulas that are beloved by celebrities and makeup artists alike. We’re also happy to report that it is a cruelty-free brand that’s backed by PETA. Some current favorites are the Halo Plumping Dew + Hyaluronic Acid and Halo Cheek Palette. The Plumping Dew uses hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to boost skin hydration while  delivering a naturally brighten complexion. If you want to amp up that radiance more, the Cheek Palette features two blushes and two highlighters.

If it’s bold pigments you’re after, look no brand does it better than Urban Decay. The brand is owned by L’Oréal, does not test on animals, and is backed by PETA for its cruelty-free practices. Try it out by opting for one of the iconic Naked palettes. Our current fav is the Naked Cyber Eyeshadow Palette, which features lots of iridescent colors that are so on-trend for 2022. Then there’s the All-Nighter Setting Spray, which ensures that your luxurious makeup look lasts all day or night.

Known for its natural and organic ingredients and sophisticated formulas, Kjaer Weis is a must for clean beauty enthusiasts that also prioritize their makeup being cruelty-free. Try out the revered Cream Blush that melts into the skin for a flush-from-within appearance. We also recommend the brand’s creamy Eye Pencil that flawlessly adds a bit of soft dimension to the lids without any uncomfortable pulling or tugging.

The OG clean beauty brand (that is also cruelty-free), RMS Beauty was developed in 2009 by Rose-Marie Swift. It uses organic ingredients to create stunning makeup products you’ll want to use every day. There’s the lightweight concealer, Un” Cover-Up, which beautifully hides imperfections with a buildable formula, as well as the Lip2Cheek Glow Quad Mini for a pop of highlight and color.