cruelty free makeup

Our Guide to Cruelty-Free Makeup


In this blog, we aim to give you some great tips on how to refresh your makeup bag with products which are free from any animal products and testing.

You may have read our recent blog about cruelty-free skincare which provides tips on how to shop cruelty-free and what it really means. Now that you’ve learned about the cruelty-free skincare, the next subject we’d like to tell you about is cruelty-free makeup.

If you’re a true ethical consumer, then it is likely you not only care about the colour, texture, price and performance of the makeup products you use but also how they are sourced, manufactured and tested.

In this blog, we aim to give you some great tips on how to refresh your makeup bag with products which are free from any animal products and testing. It may be surprising to know how many animal-derived products feature in the standard make-up routine.

cruelty free make up brushes

Let’s start with brushes

According to Peta, ‘Makeup brushes are commonly made from squirrel, mink, sable, horse (sometimes called “pony” or “camel”), or goat hair. Mink and sable brushes are products of the cruel fur industry’. So if you want to make a switch to cruelty-free makeup, you might want to switch all of your animal fur brushes for synthetic alternatives.

Don’t be put off by the term synthetic though. Synthetic brushes are usually made from nylon or other man-made fibers, and they are known to provide better application precision and a smoother finish than animal-sourced ones. It’s a win-win! And if you’re still not persuaded, they are usually cheaper, more durable and less irritating for the skin. As always, look out for the PETA and Leaping Bunny & Vegan certifications when buying your vegan makeup brushes.

ethical makeup

What animal-derived ingredients are in my makeup bag?

The most common one is Lanolin; an emollient derived from sheep’s wool and commonly found in lip balms and glosses. A truly ethical makeup brand will make the swap to plant or nut-based oils like coconut and shea butter.

Glycerine & Oleic acid are commonly found in our foundations due to their moisturisation properties but unfortunately are often derived from animal fats. The good news is that many brands are making the swap to vegetable glycerine which ticks the vegan box, and oleic acid can also be derived from plant sources. Make sure you look out for the vegan certification to confirm that these ingredients are the plant-based versions.

Perhaps the most shocking one is Guanine and is one to watch out for in your shimmery bronzers and highlighters. This ingredient comes from scraping the scales of dead fish, and once you know that it is very difficult to ever apply a non-vegan bronzer again. Cruelty-free and vegan makeup brands are instead switching to natural mineral shimmers such as mica.

Finally, there is the highly publicised Carmine (also called cochineal, natural red 4, E120, and C.I. 75470), which gives many red lipsticks their vibrant colour. This colour is created by crushing insects to create tiny amounts of red dye, which is hard to believe anyone would willingly put on their lips if they know where it came from.

The list goes on, but we hope this is enough to solidify your decision to make the switch to cruelty-free makeup!

ethical makeup products

Are animal-derived products better than synthetics?

The reality is that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that animal-derived ingredients are superior to natural or synthetic versions. In fact, the majority of plant-based ingredients have a wealth of research showcasing the array benefits on the skin (we’re talking hyaluronic acid, vitamins and plant-based antioxidants).

As regulations get tighter, and consumers get more conscious, more and more brands are pioneering the cruelty-free and vegan approach, giving us more options to choose from and more innovative product formulations.

Will you join the cruelty-free makeup revolution?

Rio Cook

Natural beauty blogger on the journey of exploring the best natural beauty products across the globe and discovering what's really in the products we use.