With the rise in people adopting ethical lifestyles, the market for cruelty-free cosmetics is booming. While this is fantastic news, we can be a little spoilt for choice and sometimes it’s hard to know where to find what you’re looking for! I’ve rounded up the best brands per type of product, so you can easily make your entire makeup collection 100% cruelty-free and vegan, while not compromising on quality. These products have not been tested and reviewed by me, instead all items listed have been carefully researched, with honest customer reviews being taken into account to pick the most popular brands and products.
When a brand didn’t have a statement on their website with regards to being cruelty-free and vegan, I used Cruelty Free Kitty to confirm the ethical position of the brand.
If you’re wondering why I’ve differentiated between cruelty-free and vegan, don’t worry because I have an explainer article in the works.
Primer, Foundation & Concealer
ELF products are completely cruelty-free, meaning none of their products are tested on animals and they have full PETA certification. All of their ingredients are also vegan and meet FDA requirements. To be considered 100% cruelty-free, a brand should not sell their products in China, as it is a legal requirement that new cosmetic products to their market are tested on animals. ELF do not sell their products in China to maintain their cruelty-free ethos, which is great news.
The Poreless Putty Primer currently has a 4.3 star rating on Boots, and at £8 a pot I’d say that makes it great value. The formula is infused with squalane to help grip makeup for all-day wear. There are currently 563 reviews and the biggest praise is for its genuine smoothing & moisturising abilities, whilst the biggest criticism was that for some it caused breakouts and didn’t interact well with oily skin.
While IT Cosmetics confirm that they do not test on animals or sell their products in China, they are owned by L’Oréal – a company that does test on animals. I started using this foundation before I knew that IT Cosmetics was owned by L’Oréal. With my troublesome skin it’s been hard to find something that works this well, and so for the time being I will continue to use this product, but it’s completely up to you whether you feel comfortable buying beauty products from IT Cosmetics while they are owned by a company that tests on animals.
The CC+ Foundation has a 4.7 rating on Boots, and a 4.4 rating on the IT Cosmetics website – and these are averages of literally thousands of reviews. Not only does this foundation conceal and correct all-over undesirable skin tones, but it also comes with a SPF of 50! This is perfect for my rosacea-prone skin, as it tones down the redness and blocks the rays of sun from exacerbating it further. Most common criticisms seem to be that a little goes a long way, and so it can look cakey, but overall this is a much-loved foundation. I would agree that a little goes a long way, making the £32 price tag even sweeter.
Urban Decay is cruelty-free but it’s owned by L’Oréal, who test on animals – so this should be taken into account when purchasing. This particular product is 100% vegan.
When I originally started writing this blog post the Naked Skin Concealer was still a thing and it was incredibly popular, but it has since been discontinued. This is a real shame, as this product has won awards and received glowing reviews, but they’ve replaced it with a similar product called Stay Naked Concealer at the same price. This concealer has amassed a total of 1,607 reviews on the Urban Decay site and the overall score is 4.5 – so pretty good! Reviewers love it for its amazing texture and coverage, and others dislike it in comparison to the old concealer, claiming the new one creases. Overall, it seems a solid choice.
Contour & Setting Powder
All Too Faced products are cruelty-free but not necessarily vegan, so this is always worth checking before any purchase. Too Faced is owned by Estee Lauder, a brand that does test on animals.
Too Faced is an American brand, so it’s not always easy to find their products in the UK but a simple Google search reveals you can find some of their stuff through online retailers. Boots stock their much-loved Cocoa Contour Palette. Currently this product only has one review, although it is five-star! Heading to the official Too Faced website shows their American customers love it, as it has an overall score of 4.3 from 45 reviews. You can also find reviews for this palette on various other beauty sites and they all have high ratings. Customers praise it for its quality undertones and easy buildability, while some criticise the fact that it gives such a wide range of colours meaning you will only use half the palette to suit your skin tone.
As stated before, ELF products are completely cruelty-free, meaning none of their products are tested on animals and they have full PETA certification. The High Definition Powder can be found on the ELF website, and it currently has an overall rating of 4.2 stars from 1,760 reviews. Biggest praise is given for its ability to work well on oily and combination skin, which is big praise in my eyes! The biggest complaint seems to be about flashback, although seeing as professionals have reviewed this product for not causing flashback, I suspect the one star reviews come from people not applying the product correctly. This sounds like a good all-rounder for a setting powder.
Blush, Highlight & Bronzer
Milani Baked Blush £10.95
Milani is 100% cruelty-free, but not all of their products are vegan as some contain animal-derived ingredients. The much-loved Baked Blush is, fortunately, 100% vegan! I’ve linked to Beauty Bay as it’s a little cheaper than at Boots, but there are valuable Boots points to be had with this one – so here it is for those who prefer points.
This blush comes in 11 shades, so we’re really spoilt for choice. Twenty-one reviews on the Boots website show an average of 4.3 stars. Biggest praise is for its high pigmentation and how affordable it is, while complaints were for how glittery it is and some people found it to be a little cakey – again, this is probably all in the application.
The About page on the Revolution website states that their products are PETA-certified cruelty-free, and are 76% vegan. Luckily, this highlighter is vegan so it’s perfect for my round-up!
The Highlight Reloaded is a wonderful option because of its super low price and amazing reviews. The average review on Beauty Bay is 4.5 stars and it’s also been reviewed on numerous other sites with a consistent average of 4.5 and 5 stars. Customers praise the pigmentation, its blendability and the fact that a little goes a long way. Complaints were few and far between, but a few reviews claimed that it’s too pigmented – making it difficult to create a more natural look.
Physician’s Formula is cruelty-free but only some of their products are vegan, so it’s always worth checking the ingredients list against this article from Plant Based News before buying.
The Butter Bronzer is known for being a much-loved high street bronzer – it’s affordable and highly rated by hundreds of people on Feel Unique, Boots and Amazon. There’s strong praise for the coconutty scent and creamy texture upon application. Average reviews on Feel Unique come out at 4.7 stars, while the average on Amazon is 4.4 stars from a whopping 2,330 reviews. Lower ratings were given against the smell too, as well as a few customers saying the tones could be orangey. There are four shades to choose and this should make it easier to avoid choosing the wrong shade for your skin.
Eyeshadow & Eyeliner
Eyeshadow was frustrating to research, because upon searching ‘vegan eyeshadow uk’, the results showed me the Tarte Cosmetics Tartelette Tease Clay Palette. This palette seems to be extremely popular, but unfortunately I checked the ingredients and some of the colours use Carmine which is an insect-derived ingredient. When I resumed my search, it was no surprise to find yet another e.l.f product among the highest reviewed vegan eyeshadows.
These palettes cost an astonishing £3, and each one comes with four shades that complement each other. Choose from eight colourways – perfect for switching between your core, everyday colours and jazzier colours for evening wear, especially when travelling. The average review for these palettes is a very high 4.7 stars. Only complaints were from a couple of reviewers who didn’t find the colours to be as pigmented as they hoped. Biggest praise was for the size, amazing price and buildable pigmentation. A few reviewers mention that the appearance can be optimised by ensuring a primer is used before application, so arguably the pigmentation is marginally compromised to instead allow for low price and a range of colours in the selection.
Memi is a completely cruelty-free makeup brand, and their products are mostly vegan. Their super popular Expert Liner is vegan and only £10!
It was difficult to find reviews for this product, but it currently has 9 reviews on the Memi website – most of which are five star. I’ve chosen a liquid liner for this blog post because although some may prefer a pencil liner, a much more unique look can be achieved with a liquid precision pen. All the reviews rave about how long it lasts and just how user-friendly it was for creating a sleek look. Couldn’t find any complaints for this one!
Mascara & Brow Mousse
As mentioned before, Too Faced is cruelty-free and mostly vegan, but they are owned by Estee Lauder which does test on animals.
I actually got a miniature free sample of this mascara and so I can comment on how I found it. It definitely brings volume and dries quickly which is great for if you’re in a hurry. It’s pretty thick so I find I have to use it a little sparingly to avoid spider lashes. It has a tonne of reviews on Look Fantastic which are mostly very positive. Biggest complaints were that it’s flakey and a little dry, whilst praise was always for the volume it creates. A few people have converted to it for good from not being able to have lash extensions during the pandemic! That’s a pretty strong verdict I’d say.
Tarte Cosmetics are 100% cruelty free, but only some of their products are vegan. Luckily the Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse is vegan and super popular!
This Mousse comes in two shades – Ash Blonde and Medium Brown, so it’s not the best for variety unfortunately. The best thing about this product is that it comes with the bamboo double-ended brush to help you sculpt your brows when applying the product – plus the mousse is actually waterproof too. There are currently 500 reviews on the Tarte website, and the biggest praise is for how long it lasts and how natural yet sculpted it leaves brows looking. Biggest criticism is for the shades not looking quite right for some customers – which is understandable, given the very limited options.
Lipstick & Lip Gloss
When I was researching for this one, I found a couple of round-up articles that both claimed the bareMinerals BarePro Longwear Lipstick to be the best vegan lipstick on the market. When I went to check out the reviews, they were good but not as good as the reviews for e.l.f’s Velvet Matte Lipstick. So e.l.f has done it again with yet another product featured in my best affordable vegan makeup round-up! I can’t help it – they’re just really affordable, and clearly really great products that don’t harm animals.
This lipstick currently has 254 reviews, with an average of 4.2 stars. It only comes in five colours, whilst the bareMinerals BarePro lipstick is available in a massive 20 shades, so this is one down-side – but it is miles cheaper at just £4.50 a pop. Biggest praise is for its level of pigmentation, texture and the darker colours in particular seem to be very popular. Complaints are for a lack of staying power and the lighter colours seem to not always match the images. At such a low price, I think people are often happy to overlook minor flaws and I’d say this lipstick sounds like a good all-rounder and I’d really like to try it for myself after reading the reviews.
If you’re more into lip gloss than lipstick, then look no further than the vegan lip gloss from Glossier. This product has a whopping 1, 326 reviews with an average of 4.4 stars so it’s safe to say it’s popular amongst customers.
The formula contains Vitamin E and Jojoba Oil for giving your lips a little TLC while making you look and feel great. This lip gloss also comes in three shades – clear, holographic and red. There’s huge praise for Glossier somehow managing to banish the classic ‘stickiness’ of lip gloss with this product, and a few reviews claim it doesn’t even feel like you’re wearing it at times. Other common praise is for the thickness to create a flawless look and the colours having subtle tints that look great on everyone. Biggest complaints from lower reviews were that it’s actually too sticky. I think it all comes down to opinion and personal preference in the end, and for £11 it’s definitely worth giving this product a go.
So there you have it – the best affordable vegan makeup, according to reviews from real customers and my own best judgement. I hope to return to this blog post with updated reviews from me, so I can share my honest opinion – until then, let me know if you’ve found any vegan makeup products that you deem to be superior!