As I'm trying to be a more conscientious consumer, I’ve noticed that there’s a common misconception that cruelty-free cosmetics are expensive and really hard to find. That, unless you’re willing to shell out a ton of money at the beauty counter on luxe, independent brands— sorry!—you’re out of luck.
Plot twist, my friends: you can buy quality cruelty-free makeup at just about any drugstore. Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid—you name it. At your local drugstore, you'll find cruelty-free brands that won’t break the bank, like Burt’s Bees and e.l.f. Cosmetics, which particularly dedicated to the cause. (According to PETA, “the company has never conducted, commissioned, or paid for tests on animals anywhere in the world.”) NYX Cosmetics, though owned by L’Oreal, remains 100 percent cruelty-free and “does not conduct, commission, or pay for tests on animals for its ingredients, formulations, or finished products.” With most products under $35 (and some as cheap as $2), there’s something for every budget at the drugstore. If you’re willing to pay a little more, Milani and Physician’s Formula not only avoid animal testing, they’re also vegan can completely avoid animal by-products in development.
Look no futher. These are some of the best cruelty-free makeup products you can buy.
Affordable, cruelty-free makeup does exist—promise!
If you need something to smooths lines and pores that won't clog your skin, e.l.f.’s Poreless Face Primer is for you. It's infused with tea tree oil and vitamins A and E, so you won’t feel so bad about slathering it on. The best part is, it’s ultra-light weight, so it doesn’t actually feel like anything is on your face. I get mine at CVS (the first and only drugstore to allow makeup swatching), but it's also available in Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and more.
Yes, Covergirl is cruelty-free! Last year, the drugstore beauty brand announced its official certification with Cruelty Free International. If you're looking for a BB cream/tinted moisturizer that doesn’t leave you feeling sticky and weighed down, the Smoothers Lightweight BB Cream is a fantastic option. When set with a mineral veil or finishing spray, this cruelty-free cream looks natural and lasts all day long. And, it’s infused with SPF15, so say goodbye to sun damage.
It’s a little expensive for a drugstore blush, but if you want a radiant, just-stepped-off-the-beach kind of glow, it’s totally worth it. The Murumuru Butter Blush is infused with nourishing ingredients including "Cupuaçu Butter and Tucuma Butter from the lush and nutrient-rich Amazon." And, like most of their other products, this blush is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, oil-free, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic. Needless to say, your skin will thank you.
Whether you’re looking for an easy everyday liner or one for cat-eye-worthy special occasions, I can’t recommend NYX's Vinyl Liquid Liner enough. The applicator is small but mighty, making it easy to avoid the raccoon look. And the consistency is smooth—it’s not too thin or thick, but the lines come out even in one fell swoop.
Milani just brought this mascara back by popular demand—and yes, it’s that good. I'm finicky about my lashes, but this mascara uses an adaptive wand to curl and lengthen lashes without making them look clumpy. According to Milani’s website, they only brought back a limited quality so excuse me while I go stock up.
Available in 14 luminescent shades, Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers are like lip balm’s sophisticated older sister. Not only is the Lip Shimmer cruelty free, it’s super moisturizing and enriched with sunflower oil, vitamin E and beeswax, so your lips never feel dried out. Plus, it’s infused with a tingly peppermint scent, so it smells and tastes just as good as it feels.
NYX Lip Lingerie, $7
And for the nights where you're feelin’ yourself I swear by NYX’s Lip Lingerie, preferably in Exotic (a warm, cinnamon red which is as sultry as it sounds). Matte lipsticks are tricky since they can be drying, but this stuff isn't at all. And with a name like Lip Lingerie, you can’t help feeling like a little minx while wearing it.
Here's how to apply a perfect red lip, according to Sophia Roe:
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