Cruelty-free and vegan makeup

Cruelty-free and vegan makeup (Photo by everydayplus on Shutterstock)

When it comes to makeup, ingredients are a big deal. And for vegans who want cruelty-free products that aren’t tested on animals, they become even more significant. What to avoid? Lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool, beeswax in balms and some mascaras, and the red coloring carmine that’s extracted from bugs (look out for E120 on your lipstick ingredients). Shellac, used in products like eyeliner and mascara, is also made from bugs. Who knew? So, whether you’re an animal lover or simply prefer bug-free lipstick, read on for a list of the best vegan makeup brands.

Something else hiding in makeup besides animal-derived ingredients? Well, an unsettling study is giving new meaning to the phrase “looks that kill.” Researchers from Aston University say that more than nine in ten of currently in-use makeup products contain potentially life-threatening superbugs, such as E.coli and Staphylococci. This is mostly caused by not cleaning makeup products (when’s the last time you cleaned your beauty blender?) and keeping them past their expiration dates. That also gives a whole new meaning to “clean beauty!”

And women aren’t the only ones using unsafe makeup. A recent study by Columbia University and Earthjustice reveals that a significant portion of children in the United States use makeup that may contain harmful chemicals like lead and asbestos. The study, based on more than 200 surveys, found that 79 percent of parents with children aged 12 and younger reported their kids using such products. This emphasizes the growing importance of clean beauty for both children and adults, given the potential risks associated with toxic, cancer-causing ingredients found in cosmetics.

So, when looking for cleaner, better makeup products, people often stumble upon one of the best vegan makeup brands. Which ones? We went on a search, compiling a list of expert-recommended product lines, taking out all of the guesswork for you. Below, you’ll find the top five  including inexpensive drugstore options and high-end beauty brands  that you need to know about. 

Makeup products
Makeup products (Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash)

The List: Best Vegan Makeup Brands, According to Experts

1. KVD Vegan Beauty

Coming in at the top of the list, experts rave about KVD Vegan Beauty, and here’s why. Zerrin starts with the backstory: “Originally founded by Kat Von D, KVD Vegan Beauty has grown into an esteemed brand, without losing any of its core values — high performance, cruelty-free, vegan makeup, well-known for their highly pigmented formulas. Their cult-following dispels any myth that vegan makeup doesn’t perform.” 

Everlasting Hyperlight Vegan Transfer-Proof Liquid Lipstick
KVD Everlasting Hyperlight Vegan Transfer-Proof Liquid Lipstick (


“If you think vegan means hippy-dippy, low-coverage products, you would be shocked by the brand’s high-coverage complexion products. The iconic Tattoo Liner and Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are a must-try for bold looks that don’t budge,” states Glamour

Conscious Bunny thinks this brand is an obvious choice for the top spot: I don’t think this one comes as a surprise since the name already shows us that the brand is vegan. The brand, once created by Kat Von D who is an animal activist (now fully owned by Kendo), sells amazing high-end makeup products.” 

2. Milk Makeup 

Experts agree that Milk Makeup is a leader in the vegan beauty industry with its viral products and clean ingredients. According to InStyle, “Nearly every product becomes a viral hit, and their campaigns are just as beautiful as they are effective in telling the stories of diverse individuals within their community.”

Milk Makeup Lip and Cheek Tint in FLIP
Milk Makeup Lip and Cheek Tint in FLIP

PureWow is wowed by the brand, saying, “Since its launch in 2016, Milk Makeup has focused on keeping its ingredients as clean as possible. In addition to leaving out the usual suspects (i.e., parabens, sulfates, SLS, SLES, formaldehyde, mineral oil and talc), it’s also 100% vegan and cruelty-free.” 

Who What Wear raves about this brand, too: “The products are cool, the packaging is gorgeous, the brand ethos resonates, and it offers unmatched peace of mind by keeping its list of blacklisted ingredients just as long as its list of approved ones. Honestly, there’s not much more we could ask for.” 

3. Axiology

Axiology is dedicated to sustainability and clean beauty, which has captured the attention of eco-conscious experts. Sustainably Kind Living loves this sustainable brand, writing, “Axiology aims to put ‘100% evil free’ color in our clean beauty routine channeling the skin-loving powers of avocado, coconut and grape seed oil – just to name a few. Opt for the award-winning, plastic-free balmies and highlighters ‘dressed’ in recycled paper and send them back to Axiology to recycle your beauty empties!” 

Axiology Multi Stick Crayons For Eyes, Lips, Cheeks
Axiology Multi Stick Crayons For Eyes, Lips, Cheeks

LeafScore summarizes, Axiology is a PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free, palm oil-free company. It makes safe, non-toxic lipsticks that also work for cheeks and eyelids. The woman-of-color-owned small business offers innovative 3-in-1 sustainable Balmies crayons and Multi-Sticks that are plastic-free.” 

Sustainable Jungle cleverly describes this brand: “When it comes to cruelty-free and vegan organic makeup brands, Axiology is the balm. This zero waste makeup brand’s award-winning 3-in-1 lip, cheek, and eye crayons are made of only nine natural ingredientscrayon you believe that?!” 

4. e.l.f. Cosmetics 

A beloved brand often found in drugstores, e.l.f. Cosmetics is making waves not only for its affordability but also for its commitment to guilt-free beauty. Good Housekeeping says, “Chances are you’ve picked up one of e.l.f.’s products from your drugstore before. Not only is e.l.f. loved by beauty editors and bloggers, it’s also one of the most affordable brands out there, with tons of picks under $10. The brand’s motto is ‘guilt-free beauty.’”

e.l.f. Camo Powder Foundation in Deep 560 C
e.l.f. Camo Powder Foundation in Deep 560 C

“Elf Cosmetics makes affordable, quality makeup for eyes, lips and faces. All of its formulas are 100 percent vegan with no phthalates or parabens or sulfates. On top of this, since 2016, its makeup brushes have been completely vegan,” claims Cruelty Free Kitty.

And Allure writes,  The affordable brand continues to surprise us with its innovative launches, but the Bite-Size Eye Shadows really steal the show.” 

5. Tower 28

Experts sing the praises of Tower 28’s makeup line, highlighting its exceptional qualities. Marie Claire thinks this brand is perfect: “Every product in the lineup is formulated to perfection. The blushes and bronzers are creamy dreams. They’ve been dermatologist-tested and have the National Eczema Association’s stamp of approval.” 

Tower 28 MakeWaves Vegan Mascara, JET Black
Tower 28 MakeWaves Vegan Mascara, JET Black

According to Bustle, “Tower 28’s offerings are made with no animal-derived ingredients or byproducts including fats, oils and musks. Its products are formulated with sensitive skin in mind, and it also has an extensive list of known irritating and harmful ingredients it will never use.” 

Beauty experts at Cosmopolitan recommend it, too: “If low-key minimalism is your makeup vibe, then you’ll love Tower 28. Their vegan formulas are fuss-free, can be applied without makeup brushes or a mirror, and won’t make you look overly done or made up either.” 

Thanks for taking the time to discover the best vegan makeup brands, according to experts! Got another one we should know about? Leave us a comment! 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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