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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

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.” *Update: Jordana now has a vegan product page on their new and improved website! Find it here

Available in-store at Walmart, Walgreens, Kmart

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 is available on their website 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 on their website 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.

MUA (Make up Academy) –  although a cruelty-free brand, MUA states “Our products are not Vegan or Vegetarian suited as some of the ingredients are derived from sources not accepted by Vegans or Vegetarians.”

Essence – Essence does not test any of their products or ingredients on animals and is a cruelty-free brand however they told me “due to the nature and origin of our products’ components we do not consider our products ‘vegan’.” 

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.

  • Stephie
    September 18, 2016

    Elf cosmetics has parabens in them i could not possibly understand how they can be vegan. I though the whole purpose of being vegan to eradicate all products that are harmful to the human body.

    • Vicky Ly
      September 20, 2016

      Hi Stephie,
      I understand where you’re coming from and the points you made. Yes, elf cosmetics are not natural by any means nor do they promote their products as being natural.

      Since there isn’t a standard definition for the term “vegan” — the label can mean something different to each of us. For me, living a vegan lifestyle means to buy and only support products that do not harm animals. So buying cosmetics that (1) do not test on animals and (2) do not contain any animal-derived ingredients is most important to me when it comes to defining a vegan lifestyle.

      I try my best to also buy products that are local, palm-oil free, all-natural, organic, recyclable, etc… But for me, my first priority is to support and promote a cruelty-free lifestyle that doesn’t hurt animals and this list is doing just that! =)

      This list is to show consumers that cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics CAN be affordable. If natural products is a priority to you, then I also listed brands like Mineral Fusion, Pacifica, and PIXI that tend to contain more natural ingredients.

  • Sarah
    September 15, 2016

    Physician’s Formula is awful at replying. I asked them about their blush and they wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I had to harass them a second time specifically asking them to name any ingredients that are not vegan before they would answer me.

    I won’t support them anymore. They’re not interested in being transparent.

  • Sherami Fernando
    September 11, 2016

    Hi Vicky, my name is Sherami Ferando and I’m a vegan as well and I loovee your website. I find it super helpful and easy. But I did want to mention one thing, I researched the ingredients in Orly nailpolishs and I found that some of the older versions have pearl. Also, even the current polishes have guanine in it so the brand isn’t 100 vegan in the nailpolish section. I’m sorry if I’m just telling you somrthing you already know, I saw that you said that Orly’s “regular” nail polishes are vegan and I didn’t know what was considered regular or not but I thought I’d mention it anyways. But anyways, thanks so much for your helpful info.

    • Vicky Ly
      September 12, 2016

      Heya Sherami! So glad to hear you’re enjoying my blog!! =)

      That’s very interesting.. I just sent them an email asking if any of their current nail polish contains guanine or pearl. I was originally told by ORLY that their nail polish are considered vegan so I’m not sure if this was a mistake on their part or they might have reformulated their nail polish since then!

      Arghs! It also doesn’t help how they don’t list any of their ingredients on their website! I will definitely be looking into this and I hope I get a clear answer about WHICH of their polishes are vegan! Thanks so much for reaching out and letting me know! =D

    • Vicky Ly
      September 13, 2016

      Hi again Sherami!

      I heard back from ORLY and they told me that none of their nail polish including their cremes, shimmers, and sheer shades contain guanine or pearl. They also kindly sent me a list of their ingredients.. I checked it over and I don’t see guanine as an ingredient! YAY.

      They said that it’s possible you may be looking at an ORLY ingredient list from pre-2005. But rest assure, all ORLY current nail polishes do not contain any animal derived ingredients!

  • Voodoo Blonde
    September 10, 2016

    I’ve just checked Physicians Formula FAQ site regarding vegan options, and it says:
    “Are your products vegan? We do not claim vegan as some of our products may contain ingredients like beeswax, carmine and lactic acid (from milk). We recommend checking the ingredient listing of each product prior to purchase.” Seems like they saw either this post or some other similar one. I’ve send them a Facebook message regarding a product containing lactic acid. They’ll probably say it’s not vegan (the Touch of Glow Foundation), but I kinda hope it is.

    • Vicky Ly
      September 10, 2016

      I also really wanted to try their Touch of Glow foundation before too! Really hope they get back to you with a clear answer! =)

      When I originally reached out to them a year ago, the girl I was speaking to seemed very helpful at first and said most of Physicians Formula products doesn’t contain animal derived ingredients and that I should read the ingredients to see if they’re suitable for vegans and to let her know if I had any questions.

      I went through all of my Physicians Formula products that I had bought and listed out a few ingredients that could be derived from animals or vegetable sources and when I asked if these were animal ingredients.. she stopped emailing me back! =( I tried to follow up with her and the company but no answer!

      That’s why I really hope they get back to you! Fingers crossed!!

  • Erynn Irene
    August 30, 2016

    Just started looking into vegan and non-cruelty makeup options. I don’t always use makeup but decided that for the times I do I wanted something I was comfortable wearing. I never even considered cruelty free as something I should do because it’s not something that is promoted. It wasn’t until I saw JKissa on Instagram and started following her (she is a makeup artist who is AMAZING and just made the final switch to a cruelty free makeup artist) that I thought about it and how much it truly bothered me. So, here I am looking at all these different websites, and yours has stood out to me the most. Now you have inspired me to look into vegan options as well. 🙂 I have tried to stick to organic/ 100% natural brands for a long time since I have bad reactions to chemicals, but reading quite a few of your posts are making me look at more. So I guess in some ways this is a thank you for having the site and keeping it updated and getting a bunch of great info that I feel is actually useful.

    • Vicky Ly
      August 31, 2016

      Aww, THANK YOU. =) thank you, thank you!

      You have no idea how happy it makes me when I read a comment like yours! It is because of caring consumers like you who really inspire me to continue to be a voice for animals by creating these resources! So it means the absolute world to me to hear that they were actually useful to you!! =D

      Keep up the amazing work your doing on going cruelty-free and if you ever have any questions, you know where to find me, Erynn! =)

  • Robin Price
    August 24, 2016

    Vegan for almost 2 full years and this is an amazing list Well done. As much as I want to try Kat Von D and other brands I simply cannot afford it.

  • Amirah Zulkefli
    July 8, 2016

    You have no idea how life-saving this list is! I’m a new vegan, and currently swapping out my cruelty and non-vegan make up. It is REALLY difficult to get any vegan products where I live, and again, some brands claim to vegan but not cruelty-free, vice versa. Thanks to your list, I can actually get ethical make up that is in line with my values! I spend hours today trying to find vegan and cruelty free make up & I end up feeling defeated with the confusion of the terms. Luckily, I have a nearby drugstore that sells GOSH. Will definitely look into it. Once again, thank you so much! Your blog is a lifesaver!

    • Vicky Ly
      July 8, 2016

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear this came in handy for ya!! =) I know the feels girl, if only manufacturers could label their products to say this contains “crushed up bugs, fish liver oil, fat from slaughtered animals” That way it would make it super easy for everyone to avoid them!!

      I will admit that finding vegan products at the drugstore is a bit harder than say, shopping at Sephora! Because drugstores always carry well-known brands from Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, etc who all tests on animals. But I’m sure the drugstores are realizing that vegan products are hot on the market now and therefore they’re carrying more and more cruelty-free brands!

      Keep it up girl and please let me know what you end up getting anything from GOSH cosmetics! My local drugstore only gets a small variety of their products so I’d love to hear your thoughts on their products! =)

  • Edith
    February 18, 2016

    Love this! Drugstore is the best and there is suprisingly so much variety for vegan and crueltyfree make up. WetnWild is my fave, their matte lipsticks are so much better than MAC!! :))

    • Vicky Ly
      February 19, 2016

      There’s so many hidden gems when it comes to vegan drugstore options!! I have yet to try Wet N Wild’s matte lipsticks but I’m definitely gonna try them out after you recommending them!! =D

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