There are many trends that become popular for all the wrong reasons, but the rising interest in cruelty-free make up is certainly a positive one. Popular YouTubers and bloggers such as Sarah Hawkinson, Monami Frost and Channon Rose have gone cruelty free and show how easily it is done. Going cruelty free does not restrict your beauty shopping purely to Lush and The Body Shop – there are actually plenty of high end options, as well as amazing budget drugstore alternatives.
The most important step in finding cruelty free make up is to do your research prior to purchasing. If you ask the shop assistant at the counter whether their brand tests on animals, they will always say no, because there are plenty of loopholes. Since March 2013 it has been illegal to sell animal tested products in the EU, however it doesn’t stop these companies testing abroad. The number one question in finding cruelty free make-up is whether the brand sells their products in China, because by doing so they automatically give consent to have their products tested on animals per local requirements. Vicky from Ethical Elephant has written a really great guide with other ways to determine whether a brand is cruelty free.
PS. Before we start, there is a difference between cruelty-free and vegan make-up. Cruelty-free refers to make-up not being tested on animals, which is what this post primarily focuses on.
Urban Decay is probably most famous for their Naked eye shadow palettes, however this brand is great for your entire make-up routine as most of their products are very highly rated. I would particularly suggest trying their Naked Skin Foundation, if you like having a weightless and light layer of make up. In fact, most of Urban Decay make up products have received nothing but praise, and they are extremely popular in the beauty blogging community.
Even though Urban Decay is owned by L’Oreal (who test on animals), most people will still support the brand for maintaining their ethical stance against animal testing. By buying more Urban Decay products, consumers are able to show L’Oreal that there is a real demand for cruelty-free products.
Long-term internet sensation and beauty guru extraordinaire, Jeffree Star, has launched a colorful cult make-up brand that is entirely cruelty free. Many of their products are also 100% vegan. To access the full range, you need to buy them from Jeffree Star Cosmetics website, however if you want to avoid high shipping fees and possible custom taxes, I would suggest buying them from certified UK retailers. Coctail Cosmetics sells Jeffree Star cosmetics in the UK, but due to high demand, you need to check the page every few days or so. It took me about 3 weeks to finally score these two shades, but they were definitely worth it!
If you like Jeffree Star Cosmetics, you will also like Kat Von D, Kylie Cosmetics (good luck scoring a lip kit, though) and Gerard Cosmetics – all cruelty free brands.
In terms of nail polish, if you want the best of all worlds, Barry M is the one. Long-lasting, budget friendly and plenty to choose from – what more could you want? Their Gelly Hi Shine nail polish makes your nails look like they have been done at a salon. I’ve acquired so many Barry M nail polish bottles over the years for these reasons! Barry M is also great for other make up items, such as their Extra Volume Black Mascara and Contour Kit.
They are also working closely to end animal testing in other continents. What’s even better is that Barry M clearly label their 100% vegan products with a green logo on the back, making shopping a lot easier for those who avoid animal ingredients.
Although what initially attracted me to Nars was their sleek packaging, the product quality and their cruelty free status is what kept me a fan. Nars is probably best known for their foundations and blushers with *ehm* eye catching names such as Orgasm and Deep Throat. They also have a great matte lip range, if that’s your look!
It should also be noted that Nars is owned by Shisheido. Their parent company does test on animals, but Nars does not. Similarly to Urban Decay, I choose to support Nars’ initiative, and hope that it will be introduced in their parent company too.
Some other cruelty free brands found in the UK (in-store and/or online) : Superdrug own brand, Charlotte Tilbury, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Marc Jacobs Beauty (not perfume), Bare Minerals, By Terry, Laura Mercier (read more here), Hurraw, Dr Bronner, Eyeko, Lush, Illamasqua, The Body Shop, Nip + Fab, The Balm, Pixi.
My go-to list for cruelty-free make-up: Cruelty Free Kitty List of Officially Cruelty-Free Brands (2016).
Text and photos by Kristiana Vasarina