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Vegan Makeup Drugstore Brands

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One of the biggest struggles I hear from compassionate shoppers is finding affordable makeup that is both cruelty-free and vegan. To clarify the main difference between the two, cosmetics labelled as ‘cruelty-free’ implies no animal testing has been performed meanwhile ‘vegan’ products do not contain any animal derivatives.

There’s some great cruelty-free drugstore brand lists and similar resources available online but not one specifically catered for vegans only. It’s probably because it’s a much shorter list but you may be surprised that although a brand isn’t considered 100% vegan, they do offer some options that are animal-free in addition to being cruelty-free of course!

Here you will find a list of drugstore makeup brands that are either 100% vegan or carry some vegan options as well as to how you can find those V-options. I also list drugstore makeup brands that are NOT cruelty-free and continue to test on animals and therefore should be avoided at all costs. Finally, I will mention brands that are cruelty-free BUT not vegan-friendly and is probably best to avoid.

Full list of Vegan makeup drugstore brands and which brands to avoid that test on animals!

List of Vegan Makeup Drugstore Brands

Ardell Lashes (vegan false eyelashes)

Ardell is a popular drugstore brand with a growing selection of cruelty-free and synthetic false lashes. Their lashes are made without animal-hair.

Available in-store at most drugstores.

B. (100% vegan makeup)

B. recently went through a major rebanding but they remain to be both a cruelty-free and vegan brand focusing on quality vegan makeup. You can find B. products at Superdrug.

Available in-store at Superdrug.

Barry M (some vegan cosmetics)

Barry M is a great cruelty-free makeup brand for UK shoppers. Not all of their products are vegan but they clearly label which ones are on their website under each product description.

Available in-store at Superdrug.

China Glaze (vegan nail polish) – Currently reinvestigating China Glaze’s animal testing policy but confirmed none of their nail polish contain animal ingredients or derivatives (April 10, 2016) Will update when I receive more info. 

All regular nail polish by China Glaze are vegan-friendly and they’re around the same price as Essie nail polish.

Available in-store at Ulta, Walmart, Walgreens,

Eco Tools (100% vegan makeup brushes)

Eco Tools makes 100% vegan and affordable animal-free makeup brushes with quality soft bristles, sleek bamboo handles, and recycled aluminum ferrules.

Available in-store at Target, Ulta, London Drugs, Walmart, Superdrug, Walgreens

e.l.f. Cosmetics (all cosmetics are vegan)

All of e.l.f.‘s cosmetics are vegan-friendly and do not contain any animal ingredients however some of their makeup brushes are made with animal-hair. They offer a complete line of makeup at an incredibly affordable price (lipsticks are only $3!).

Available in-store at Target, London Drugs, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Superdrug

Essence (some vegan cosmetics)

Essence cosmetics is a popular drugstore makeup brand, they recently have confirmed a list of their makeup that are vegan which you can find a list of it here.

GOSH (some vegan cosmetics)

GOSH cosmetics offers an extensive product range and you’ll be happy to hear that most of them are indeed vegan-friendly! For a full list of GOSH cosmetics’ vegan products, check it out here.

Available in-store at Superdrug, Shoppers Drug Mart

Jordana (some vegan cosmetics)

Jordana cosmetics is based in the U.S. and their line of makeup are extremely affordable (lipsticks start at $1.99!). But only some of Jordana’s beauty products are considered vegan.

They have confirmed to me “Jordana has identified only 4 animal derivatives exist in our products, these are: carmine, guanine, lanolin and beeswax. For a particular product, view ingredients section for carmine, guanine, lanolin and beeswax. If not listed, then it is vegan.”

Available in-store at Walmart, Walgreens, Kmart

Makeup Academy – MUA (some vegan cosmetics)

Makeup Academy is cruelty-free and recently confirmed which of their affordable makeup is vegan, view a list of MUA’s vegan products here.

Milani (some vegan cosmetics)

Some of Milani cosmetics are classified as vegan-friendly and you can find a vegan product list on their website here.

Available in-store at Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens

Mineral Fusion (some vegan makeup products)

Mineral Fusion products are at a higher price point compared to other drugstore brands but they also claim their products are free of gluten, parabens, SLS, phthalates, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. All of Mineral Fusion products are 100% vegetarian, and most are even 100% vegan – full list of Mineral Fusion vegan-friendly products here.

Available in store at London Drugs, Target, Ulta

ORLY (vegan nail polish)

All of ORLY‘s regular nail polish are vegan-friendly and they’re around the same price as O.P.I. nail polish.

Available in store at Target, Ulta, Walmart, CVS

Pacifica (100% vegan cosmetics)

Pacifica is a 100% vegan and sustainable makeup brand. They offer beauty and skincare products that are formulated without: parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, benzene, mineral oil, petroleum, peanut oil, triclosan, phthalates, and FD&C color.

Available in store at Target, Ulta

Pixi (some vegan cosmetics)

Pixi offers a range of natural cosmetics and beauty products, only some are considered vegan. For a full list of Pixi by Petra vegan products, find it here.

Available in store at Target

Real Techniques (some vegan makeup brushes)

Real Techniques has a cult following for their synthetic and vegan makeup brushes that are sold in just about any drugstore at a reasonable price.

Available in store at Target, Ulta, London Drugs, Walmart, Superdrug, Walgreens

Wet N Wild (some vegan makeup)

Wet N Wild is another affordable makeup brand that has a ton of vegan options (lipsticks for $2!). You can now tell which of Wet N Wild products are vegan as it’s clearly labelled on the store display and some product packaging, or find a full list here.

Available in store at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS

Non-Cruelty-Free Makeup Drugstore Brands

Drugstore brands to avoid that test on animals

Avoid these brands as they continue to test on animals.

  • Maybelline
  • Max Factor
  • Neutrogena
  • New York Color (N.Y.C.)
  • OPI nails
  • Pure Ice nails
  • Revlon
  • Rimmel London
  • Sally Hansen
  • Sinful Colors

Cruelty-Free But Not Vegan Drugstore Brands

drugstore brands that are probably best to avoid that are not vegan-friendly

Some makeup brands claim to be cruelty-free and do not test on animals however they may use ingredients derived from an animal. Common non-vegan ingredients used in cosmetics include honey, beeswax, milk protein, lanolin, and carmine.

It is difficult to tell if an ingredient came from an animal or a vegan source just by reading a product’s ingredient list because manufacturers and companies are not required to disclose this on the label. However most vegan-friendly brands will usually tell shoppers which products or ingredients to avoid as they contain animal by-products.

Unfortunately some cruelty-free brands choose not to disclose this information, as a result, I am unable to warrant any of their products as being vegan.

NYX Cosmetics – owned by L’Oreal (a company that does test on animals), state they are unable to give out generalized ingredient information.

Burt’s Bees – owned by Clorox (a company that does test on animals), uses milk, lanolin, honey, royal jelly and carmine in some products and claim that since many of their products are produced on shared lines, they don’t call them “vegan”. (Burt’s Bees is no longer considered cruelty-free as they now sell their products in mainland China)

Physicians Formula – claim that their formulas do not contain any animal derived ingredients but they sometimes use ingredients like beeswax, carmine, etc. No response after multiple attempts asking for other animal ingredients used in their products.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

30 Responses
  • Linda Hogan
    October 3, 2017

    I did not think about vegan makeup. I always buy brands that are labeled cruelty free and not tested on animals but you educated me about what it means to be a vegan makeup! Thank you, Linda Hogan

  • Nakia Fukuda
    April 9, 2017

    Hi! Love your articles. I’m currently vegan but I’m having trouble with finding brands and products that do not test on animals. Could you post about the products you use? Thank you!

  • Adelina Teodorescu
    March 24, 2017

    Sorry, but I have to ask this. You stated that “Burt’s Bees is no longer considered cruelty-free as they now sell their products in mainland China”
    Just selling a product in a certain area is relevant how exactly? Or am I misunderstanding this?

    • Genesis Martinez
      March 28, 2017

      China has a law that all products must be animal tested. SO definitely not cruelty free and if not even that it’s pointless to say vegan because animals were harmed for a product to be put in stores.

  • Andria Groark
    February 19, 2017

    Hi Vicky Ly, first thank you so much for this list! Second, do you know what/where the laws are for cosmetics testing on animals? I had thought that testing on animals was illegal now. I’m also wondering where you get your information from? Is it just from the businesses site, have you talked to people working for the brands, do they have concrete proof in the ingredients lists for their products? Would love to know how/where to find proof for these products! Thanks again!

  • Witchs Brew
    October 24, 2016

    Any information on Butter company nail polish and cosmetics. They have are high pigmented colors for polish and always wondered if they were vegan. They are found at Ulta

  • Ella Brooks
    October 18, 2016

    Hi! Thank you for all the information.
    What do you know about Essence? They strongly claim on their website that they do not test on animals, I don’t know about being vegan though…
    Also Collection, Nails Inc London and Helen E Cosmetics (british brand, they claim to not test on animals but on some of their products appears made in China i don’t know if the packaging or the product itself is made in China. A friend of mine works with Helen E and she got me some products but I’m not sure if I should use them yet. I couldn’t find much info on that so please help me. The Eyeshadows look great by the way).

  • Debbie bradley
    October 15, 2016

    I agree, you are a lifesaver! I am beginning to switch out all of my cosmetics as well. This makes is so much easier.

  • anonimo
    October 8, 2016

    Hi Vicky,
    Thank you so much for this post first and foremost, for taking out the time to research all of these brands. However, when I looked at a few products from Jordana and Wet n Wild which have a “list” of vegan products, I found most of them to be not vegan. Please let me know if a product is considered vegan and/or cruelty free if it contains:
    1. squalane: which is derived by the hydrogenation of squalene, which is derived from the liver of sharks. Approximately 3000 sharks are required to make 1 ton of squalene. The vegan alternative is phytosqualene derived from plants. Squalane is used as an emollient/moisturizer and is found in the Jordana Blush
    2. Lanolin oil: Wool-grease. Obtained by boiliing sheep wool. It is found in all of their lipsticks, eyeliners, and lip gloss
    3. Carmine: Obtained from carminic acid which is obtained by boiling cochineal beetles alive until they’re dead and liquid! Some methods of producing carmine dye include adding egg whites, fish glue or gelatine which are again animal sourced ingredients and are neither vegan nor cruelty-free!! Carmine is used in ALL bright red colored foods and makeup!! Sometimes the dye will not even show up as carmine, these companies will mask it up with complicated names like “E120” or Red xyz number!
    It is becoming frustratingly difficult and expensive to stay vegan!

    • Vicky Ly
      October 8, 2016

      Heya! Yes, I’ve heard there may have been some non-vegan items listed on the Wet N Wild vegan product list… I’m not sure how often the list is updated so product formulations may have changed and the list can be inaccurate at times. But I haven’t heard any customers say anything about Jordana’s vegan list.

      I just want to mention a few things about the ingredients you noted..
      1. Yes, as you said.. squalene can be derived from shark liver or from plants. Manufacturers are NOT required to disclose which source squalene was derived from so it’s always best to ask the company directly. In this case, I’m going to send an email to Jordana asking about the squalene in their blush.

      2. Lanolin is a very common ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products. As you mentioned, any product that says it contains lanolin should NOT be considered vegan.

      3. Manufacturers are actually required to label if a product may or may not contain carmine now because a lot of people are allergic to carmine so they have to clearly state it on their list of ingredients. Although, like you said, carmine can have multiple names .. almost all cosmetics sold in the US and Canada will also make sure to say “carmine” on the list in addition to using the scientific name for carmine.

      You may have also noticed carmine listed as an ingredient under “may contain”. This confuses a lot of customers because if carmine is listed under “may contain” it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product contains carmine. As I mentioned earlier, people who are allergic or sensitive to carmine cannot use any products that may have come in contact with the ingredient. So companies who manufacture multiple products on the same equipment or machinery will include carmine under “may contain” for those who are highly sensitive. Also, companies sometimes use the same label across multiple colors or shades of cosmetics… so only one shade of lipstick or eyeshadow may contain carmine whereas the other shades don’t and therefore are considered vegan.

      I totally agree with you, it can be a little frustrating to have to read every ingredient list to determine for ourselves if something is vegan or not but I think it’s definitely worth it in the end to know that the products you choose to buy are not harming or hurting any animals! =)

      • Madison bowman
        October 21, 2016

        I just emailed Jordana because they put out a vegan list but when you look at the ingredients on the products most contain carmine so we will see what they say!

  • Emeline Walker
    September 20, 2016

    Ok, so I love Rimmel London’s BB cream, but hearing that they are not cruelty free breaks my heart. Is there a lightweight BB cream brand you can recommend? I hate foundations, I’ve been using BB cream for about 5 years now.

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