If you have ever experienced overwhelming guilt after finding out your favorite mascara was tested on animals, then there is a pretty good chance that this article is for you. There is quite literally no reason for a beauty company to use animal testing with all the synthetic materials we have now to recreate a realistic body. Yet, many companies still do test on animals. In this post, I talk about what cruelty-free beauty really is and what my favorite products are.
People often equate cruelty-free and vegan products, when technically a vegan product might not be cruelty-free and a cruelty-free product might not be vegan. Vegan products do not contain ay animal products, such as honey, egg, or milk. Vegan products can be cruelty-free despite having animal products, because no animals were necessarily harmed in acquiring the ingredients and if the products were not tested on animals. Ethical Elephant, a vegan lifestyle blog, created these diagrams to help visualize the differences in cruelty-free and vegan beauty products:
To find out which brands were indeed cruelty-free, much research had to be done. Luckily, someone else has already done all of this, and now we just have to look up the specific brands in question. There are a few issues to note in how this process became more complicated, however. Differences in federal regulations between countries has made it confusing to find out which beauty brands are cruelty-free. Take Clinique for example, which is owned by Estee Lauder. Clinique’s website states the following:
Clinique Laboratories, LLC. is committed to the elimination of animal testing. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety, and bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold.
We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. We evaluate our finished products in clinical tests on volunteer panels.
Clinique Laboratories, LLC. fully supports the development and global acceptance of non-animal testing alternatives. To this end, the Company works extensively with the industry at large and the global scientific community to research and fund these alternatives.
I’m calling Clinique’s bluff. Taking note of the sections underlined, if the company was truly invested in eliminating animal testing, then it would not put it’s own personal income and revenue first by selling in China, where animal testing is required by law. To me, any company that puts profit before ethics is not a cruelty-free company.
One of the most difficult tasks in my search for cruelty free beauty products was finding out which brands were completely free of animal testing, not only within their specific brand, but also the company that owns the brand. For example, NYX is a cruelty free makeup brand part of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, the ultimate resource for cruelty-free shoppers. However, NYX is owned by L’Oreal, which sells products in China where beauty products are required by law to be tested on animals. While you will not find NYX products in China, you will find other L’Oreal products, and every NYX purchase will end up support L’Oreal. So, it’s up to you to decide whether or not NYX is a cruelty-free brand.
Here is a detailed list of my favorite cruelty-free products.
- Shampoo/Conditioner – I use the solid shampoo and conditioners from Lush. I originally purchased these to take on an airplane since they aren’t liquid and I fell in love with both. I currently use the citrusy Montablano shampoo bar, which smells absolutely delicious and instantly brightens my morning, and the Sugar Daddy-O solid conditioner, which does not smell nearly as good as my shampoo but leaves my hair perfectly silky and soft. I will probably never go back to regular shampoo as long as Lush sells these products.
- Hairspray – I don’t use many hair products except for one hairspray by Verb. I have very fine hair and I rarely do anything to it, so I only use the Leave-in Mist when I am blow drying my hair. While I love how this spray makes my hair feel, it is extremely thick and does not come out of the spray bottle easily.
- Body Scrub – I make my own body scrub using scented epsom salts and coconut oil. It exfoliates away all of the dead skin while giving my skin a lot of hydration. Also, since I buy my coconut oil at Costco and my epsom salts in a bulk bag from Spouts, I’m really saving money by making my own scrub.
- Body Wash – Lush has the best smelling cruelty-free body washes. I am currently using their Rose Jam Shower Gel, which is only available in the winter (just to give you an idea of how long the bottle lasts, I’ve had this one since January and I’m only about halfway through it. It’s April). My favorite year-round scent is Plum Rain and I also used to swear by The Olive Branch, however I stopped using it because it was not self-preserving but since then, Lush has put out a new self-preserving formula.
- Shaving Gel – I make my own shaving gel using coconut oil and olive oil. I have had no ingrown hairs or shaving cuts since I switched to homemade and my legs are extremely smooth. Pro-tip: I also use recycled razors from Preserve.
- Face Wash – I make my own scrub and then use a face cleanser from one of my favorite beauty companies, Mario Badescu. If you have very particular skin and many products do not agree with you, then I highly suggest testing out Mario Badescu products. I use the Enzyme Cleansing Gel currently, but I have tried half a dozen of their other products. They also make great face masks. My homemade face scrub is just coconut oil, coffee grounds, and brown sugar; it smells delicious and leaves my face super smooth.
- Face Lotion – I use pure hyaluronic acid serum from Cosmedica Skincare as my daily moisturizer since my skin is so sensitive and picky. If I’m going in the sun, I use Alba Botanica’s SPF 30 Kid’s Mineral Sunscreen. Don’t ask me why, but I’m convinced kid’s sunscreen is better for sensitive skin.
- Primer – Remember when Smashbox came out with those photo primers and sold each bottle for like $30? Luckily, NYX makes a much more affordable dupe of those called the Studio Perfect Primer. I use the green one because my face is splotchy and it works very well to even my skin tone and serve as a smooth base to apply my makeup.
- Foundation – While Tarte is a little pricier, I am very picky with my choice in foundations. I like full coverage but you have to be able to layer it, because I don’t actually like to wear it as full coverage, I just need that option in case I get a bad zit or a blemish. I recently switched away from Clinique to the Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation and it’s the best foundation I’ve used so far.
- Concealer – I like my concealers to be a little thick and I dab them on with a Q-tip. Anastasia Beverly Hills makes a pretty pricy Concealer but you barely need to use any of it, so the small container lasts for quite some time.
- Setting Powder – Hear me out on this one. I use a powder from Lush that is called Silky Underwear Body Dusting Powder. I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to go on your face, but it sucks up moisture like a vacuum and works perfectly on my oily skin.
- Bronzer/Blush/Highlight – I have a bronzer and blush from Bare Minerals that are so old they don’t have them on the website anymore. It’s just the basic Bare Minerals bronzer and blush, which clearly I never use. I love everything Fenty Beauty has, but I’m just daring enough to wear Rihanna’s bold and shiny highlighters and bronzers. Literally all of the highlighters are incredible. A few products by Milk Makeup are on my wishlist, including the Holographic Highlighting Powder and Matte Bronzer,
- Eyeshadow – I’m pretty boring with eyeshadow and just go for the fan favorite, Urban Decay Naked Palettes. I have the basics palette and Naked2.
- Mascara – I get so many mascaras as mini free samples or full size samples, so every few weeks I use a different brand and never end up purchasing it myself. However, I can name two mascaras that I have used in the past and loved. Pacifica can be purchased at target or in some drug stores. They have a mascara called the Stellar Gaze Mineral Mascara that puts high end brands to shame. I also like Buxom‘s Lash Mascara, which really lengthens my eyelashes.
- Eyebrows – I don’t do much to my eyebrows, but lately I’ve been filling them in because I splurged on the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. I have patchy eyebrows and I really like the versatility of this pencil and how similar to my eyebrow color it is. I also have a bad case of flyaway eyebrows, so I use Urban Decay’s Brow Tamer to keep them all in place.
You can find extensive lists of cruelty-free beauty and makeup products here: