It seems that nowadays almost every makeup company is on the cruelty-free & eco-friendly kick. And rightfully so because the consumer mindset has changed over the years. Millennials have grown up and usually love a good business with a great cause behind it. In fact, 73% of millennials would spend a little more money on a product if they believe in the company's core values. That’s vastly different from the shopping climate back in the day when it was all about quantity over quality.
I know it’s a sh*tty concept that only corporate greed could manifest. Luckily there are ways to determine if a company is telling the truth. There are organizations out there with the sole mission to make sure their practices are tried and true! For example, The Leaping Bunny is comprised of 8 organizations all dedicated to making sure brands are cruelty-free. They work with companies to make sure that shopping for animal cruelty-free products is easier and trustworthy. That’s why when you see a leaping bunny logo you’ll know it’s safe to buy.
There is also a term you might have heard in the makeup community called Parent Companies. What that is is that a company for example, Too Faced, will be cruelty-free. They will not test on animals or use fur. HOWEVER, there's a problem. The company that OWNS them called Estee Launder, does in fact still test on animals by selling to China. China mandates that every product sold is tested on animals even though ANIMAL TESTING IS INCONCLUSIVE. So this is a decision you have to make and it can be a little tricky. Do you support a company even though their parent company does not follow the same values as they do? Or maybe you can show them that there’s a higher demand for a cruelty-free line by only purchasing Too Faced and not Estee Lauder. In my opinion, a company like that is not 100 percent cruelty-free.
Now if you’re still confused and do not really care to do in-depth research I don’t blame you, it’s a lot. But don't stress! I have done it for you since I love you and our little fur babies. At the end of this article I have included the full list so you can print it out or screenshot it so you'll know exactly what to look for the next time you're shopping. I have included 10 brands that have no ties to Parent Companies that test on animals or sell to China. Their quality of makeup is amazing and their ethics follow suit. These are the types of business we should be giving our hard earned money to. Let’s change the course of consumerism for the better! ❤️
1. Kat Von D Beauty - Owned by Kendo
When in doubt, buy from KVD. I'm a huuuuuge fan of Kat and her cosmetics line. She has really dedicated her brand to being 100% percent cruelty-free and the quality of her makeup is superb. She's even working towards her whole makeup line becoming completely vegan! The parent company of KVD is Kendo which is cruelty-free and PETA certified. You'll see a lot of other brands under Kendo on this list.
Another reason why I adore her products is because she really takes the time to make products that are of quality performance such as an art piece. A lot of makeup companies churn out new makeup collections too fast for us to keep up. And it's all to make a buck but they aren't really worth anything. Kat cares about her craft to make sure what we are buying is not gimmicky and will last. She's like a modern Renaissance artist! You know when she comes out with a limited edition palette it was well thought out and definitely worth splurging for. I recommend everything from her line but here are a few of my essentials.
KVD's contour palette's are known for being one of the top in the makeup community. What's cool is that you can use this as an eye shadow palette as well! Also, when you run out of a shade you do not need to buy the whole palette again. They sell refills for each pan which is super cost effective and eco-friendly!
If you're struggling to get that sharp cat eye wing, it may be your eyeliner to blame. It's true that it takes practice and patience but there a big difference between a Wet n' Wild liquid eyeliner and a high end one like KVD. If you're wondering what's one makeup product you should splurge on occasionally, I would suggest a good foundation and a really solid eyeliner. "May the wings of your eyeliner always be even, and sharp enough to kill". - random IG quote
2. Beautycounter - Independently Owned
My awesome bestie recommended this brand to me last month. I keep thanking her for introducing them to me because I've fallen in love with their makeup and mission. Beauty Counter was founded by Gregg Renfrew (lady boss) because she realized that the mainstream products she was using had too many harmful chemicals in them. Renfrew wanted to create a brand that was authentic, healthy, and beautiful. Beautycounter is not just a makeup brand but a social brand as well. They are extremely dedicated to educating their customers about harmful beauty products and offering a better alternative. They even have a Never List which bans 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals from their formulas. To learn more visit this page!
I would highly suggest purchasing their Flawless in Five collection. You get to pick your foundation, concealer, brow liner, mascara, blush/bronzer, & lip gloss all for $150! If you really think about it, if you bought all of that separately it would come out to substantially more. This is a great brand for you if you want an amazing luxury makeup brand without all of the harsh chemicals.
3. Elate Cosmetics - Independently Owned
"Elate cosmetics won't compromise your skin, your lifestyle, or the earth."
Elate Cosmetics was one of the first makeup brands that I discovered on my clean beauty journey. This brand is really focused on sustainable ingredients and packaging. They really live up to their mission statement because they are PETA certified, Leaping Bunny certified, and just recently signed The Just Beautiful Pledge. They're also unique because their packaging is made of bamboo and plantable seed paper! Seed paper is made from recycled paper that has flowers embedded in them. So you can plant your packaging after you use it. Who wouldn't want flowers and makeup? My favorite product from them is their foundation. It has a mousse type of consistency that is medium/full coverage. I also recommend trying their brow kits for those sharp insta brows.
4. Thrive Causemetics - Independently Owned
I've talked about Thrive Causmetics before on my Warm Neutrals blog post which you can read about here. I raved about that palette because it really deserved it. It blends so seamlessly so even if you're not the best at makeup it does most of the work for you! All you need is a few good brushes from Real Techniques, Wet N' Wild, and/or Eco Tools. This company was founded by Karissa Bodnar who's mission is Beauty with a Purpose. For every product purchased, one is donated to help a woman thrive.
5. Milk Makeup - Independently Owned
You might be familiar with the super trendy brand Milk Makeup. Born out of California, they're sold in Sephora and gaining a lot of recognition for their Kush Mascara that just released. I haven't used it yet but I've heard nothing but great reviews about it! I included this brand because they are really unique and they offer products other brands don't. For example, their hydrating sticks are to die for. The blue one is super hydrating and cool (literally) and it's especially needed for festival season or a day at the beach.
6. Marc Jacobs Beauty - Owned by Kendo
(*their fragrance is not cruelty-free because it is sold in China*)
Marc Jacobs doesn't sound like a brand that would be cruelty-free but surprisingly it is! Their makeup is more mature and traditional. I feel like it's timeless makeup products that will always be in style. Their Eye-Conic eye shadow palettes offer so many color options and are so trendy and easy to blend!
7. Bite Beauty - Owned by Kendo
You might know about Bite because it's the lipstick sample you get for free when it's your birthday month at Sephora. ;) If you're looking for a perfect mauve shade try Shake. Bite Beauty specializes in hydrating lipsticks that are crazy pigmented. They remind me of Urban Decay's Vice Lipsticks with the exception that UD's parent company is not cruelty-free and Bite Beauty's is.
8. Chaos Beauty - Independently Owned
This brand is relatively small compared to the others but is highly underrated in my opinion. Hand made from Corpus Christi Texas, founder Megan Martinez, created a brand that is trendy and innovative. She makes all of our her products herself and finds new formulas for unique makeup. Chaos makeup offers color cream shifting highlighters, eye shadow hybrids, and even confetti highlighters! All contained in super cute shell packages that can be reused for other eyes hadow pans.
9. Makeup Geek - Independently Owned
I love the backstory on this brand. It's just so inspirational I can listen to it over and over. So Marlena (founder of MUG) was a theater teacher who was also a makeup artist. Sounds familiar to me because I'm an Art Teacher and a Makeup Artist. She wanted a makeup brand that worked exactly like MAC but wasn't ridiculously overpriced. So she created Makeup Geek. A brand that dupes MAC and does it WELL. There is no parent company with this brand they are independently owned. If you're having a hard time parting with MAC (because you really should since they choose to still test on animals), please try this one. A lot of influential youtubers rave about MUG and for plenty of good reasons.
10. Axiology - Independently Owned
The last brand on this list is a lipstick brand that is devoted to animals, the environment, and their workers. They have definitely proved that a makeup company can be sustainable and beautiful! Their lipstick boxes are sourced from Bali and made from a woman-owned recycled paper boutique. Another reason to love them is that NONE of their lipsticks contain palm oil in them. Palm oil production is so rapid that it has destroyed much of the rain forest and endangered the animals that live there. Most notably orangutans. Palm oil is used in a lot of food products we use/eat everyday but I believe we can all agree that makeup products shouldn't contribute to such detrimental effects on the environment. Even thought their lipsticks are a little pricey, they are worth it. They are creamy, highly pigmented, and luxurious.
Read more about Axiology's mission: https://axiologybeauty.com/pages/our-story
I know what you may be thinking: Some of the most popular and maybe even your own favorite makeup brands aren't on this list. Well, again this is because they are owned by parent companies that test on animals. But, to be honest, the alternatives I've listed above have enough makeup to last you 10 lifetimes. They're amazing and they're constantly creating new products all while staying ethical and true to their values. Also, 9 out 10 of these brands were founded by WOMEN. It may surprise you how many men own huge mainstream cosmetic brands! So let's support a sister entrepreneur that has a kick ass business!
What do you think about the brands on this list and what do you think I left out? Let me know in the comments below.
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