A Newbie’s Guide to Affordable Cruelty-Free Cosmetics
Beauty shouldn’t have an ugly side. But let’s be real: Some companies still sell their products in countries where tests on animals are required, and the only way to get them to stop is to show them with your dollars that you don’t support cruelty. Why should you care? Well, think about it: Would you want your cat or dog to go through all the horrible procedures that animals in labs do (i.e., being locked up, poisoned, blinded, and KILLED)?
Even if you don’t have a furry companion, would you want to go through that yourself? Of course not, and NO ONE should ever have to. Especially not for lipstick or eyeliner.
Fortunately, plenty of brands are going cruelty-free these days, thanks to PETA’s work and the demands of consumers. Here’s a guide to some of our favorite affordable cruelty-free cosmetics you can find at drugstores, Walmart, Ulta, Meijer, or Target.
- Zits. We all get them. We all hate them. Cover them with concealers from e.l.f., Milani, Essence, or NYX.
- We don’t need to tell you how bomb e.l.f.’s Halo Glow is–we know you know. Thanks, TikTok.
- ColourPop’s Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Acid Tinted Moisturizer has the longest freaking name ever but is gorgeous on the skin for that natural, dewy look.
- Their super-cute heart-shaped highlighter in “In My Feels” is great too!
- For bronzer, check out the iconic Butter Bronzer from Physicians Formula.
- Milani’s Baked Blush is magic (and doesn’t contain crushed beetles).
- Whether you’re up all night studying for finals or watching movies with friends, the next morning can be rough. Pacifica’s DREAMLIT Glow Undereye Brightener is your new go-to.
- Halsey’s affordable brand, af94, has everything you need—but we’re big fans of the Shadowboxer Eye Crayons. af94 also has colorful eyeliners, mascaras, and more. It’s available at Walmart!
- Three words: Super Shock Shadow. These products from ColourPop are legendary, and many of them are vegan. ColourPop also has tons (and we mean tons) of vegan eyeshadow palettes to choose from—many under $15.
- Nearly every influencer has raved about e.l.f.’s $3 Bite-Size Eyeshadow palettes—and for good reason. They’re great for travel, throwing in your bag, touch-ups at school, and even a night out.
- Essence’s Lash Princess Sculpted Volume Mascara is everything—and it’s under five bucks.
- NYX eyeliners come in basically every color you could imagine, proving that you can go from neutral to glam to stunning-color looks without animal ingredients.
- Again proving that you never need to crush up a bug (that’s what carmine is, folks) for beautiful color, NYX lipsticks are bright, long-lasting, super-comfy, and available in tons of shades. We love the Shine Loud High Shine Lip Color and Lip Lingerie lines. The lip liners and lip oils are great, too.
- Milani’s Stay Put Liquid Lip Longwear Lipstick gives the perfect neutral look.
- I always have e.l.f. Ride or Die Lip Balm in my bag.
- The Body Shop’s Almond Milk Lip Care Stick is perfect for cold winter weather or if you just need a little moisture.
- Colourpop Lux Lip Oils are a necessity.
- OK, you have to go to a Lush store for this one, but we couldn’t leave it off the list. These lip scrubs are classic—and still under $15!
- With a name like “Lavender Moon,” how could you not want this overnight lip mask from Pacifica?
L.A. Colors, ella + mila, SPARITUAL, Pacifica, and wet n wild are all brands we love for cruelty-free looks—from polish to press-ons.
After years of messy eye looks, I learned my lesson: It’s all about the brush. For affordable options, EcoTools, wet n wild, e.l.f., Real Techniques, and ColourPop are our faves. These products aren’t tested on animals or made of animal hair (yes, that’s a thing—a gross thing).
Pro Tip: Use PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Database!
Grab your phone and look up whatever brand you’re checking out on PETA’s cruelty-free list of cosmetics, personal-care products, and more.
Need help duping one of your problematic faves? E-mail us at [email protected] and we’ll help!