Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands: My Top List After Trying >300 Products

Last update: 10 June 2019

I tried to go plant-based for six years, but worked in PR for a non-vegan restaurant group. I also wanted to reject clients who did animal testing, but worked for marketing companies that catered to beauty conglomerates. A large portion of my daily life involved product reviews.

In short, I’ve been pretty conflicted for almost 10 years. I had to consider the accountability, loss of clients, media relations, staff payroll and cost of living/eating fresh produce in ‘the most expensive city in the world’.

But after quitting my job to pursue a career switch, I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle and only choose brands I’m passionate about. I went cruelty-free for personal reasons, which I believe is irrelevant to anyone who does not wish to be force-fed with a PETA logo. I am still learning to stick to new habits and hope others can make the best informed choice for themselves, too.

Points to note:

‘vegan’ = does not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. It describes the ingredients, rather than the production process.

‘cruelty-free’ = ingredients and the final product are not tested on animals. A product that is cruelty-free can be non-vegan if it contains ingredients such as honey or gelatin. Similarly, it is also possible for a company that does animal testing to still state that they are vegan.

Vegan and cruelty-free does not necessarily mean that the ingredients are safe or natural.

We all have different tolerance levels to how ‘cruelty-free’ we should be. Many beauty brands fall under the grey area (e.g. Fenty beauty), especially if they’re acquired by parent companies that do test on animals. In some way, supporting a cruelty-free subsidiary could influence parent companies to follow suit if there is enough public demand.

To me, it’s 2019 and if we can build a space elevator, I don’t see how a bunny’s breakout should determine product safety. Ethics aside, most products that work best for me are usually cruelty-free. 

In this list, I curated the more popular Korean, Japanese, Western (Sephora/cult) makeup brands that are certified 100% cruelty-free and not sold in China where animal testing is required.

Websites to check if your cosmetic brands test on animals:

Source: The Ethical Elephant

Cruelty-Free Beauty Brands

Note: Brands with an asterisk (*) are cruelty-free, but are owned by a company that isn’t. Brands marked with a ‘V’ are 100% vegan. I bolded the brands I use more often.

Afterglow Cosmetics
Anastasia Beverly Hills


BH Cosmetics

Canmake (Jap)
Cover FX | V
Covergirl (since Nov 2018!)

Dr. Hauschka

Everyday Minerals | V


IT Cosmetics

Kat Von D
Koh Gen Do
Kopari Beauty
Klairs (Korean)
L.A. Girl

Marc Jacobs Beauty
Makeup Revolution


Paula’s Choice
Physicians Formula

Re:p (Korean)

Sunday Riley

Tata Harper
The Body Shop
The Ordinary
Too Faced

Urban Decay*

Queen Helene

Other categories to consider checking:

Deodorant, Soap, Dental Care, Facial Moisturiser, Shaving & Hair Removal, Sunscreen, Perfume, Nail Polish Remover, Mascara, Foundation, Concealer, Cleaning Products, Laundry Detergent, Shampoo & Conditioner, Hair Dye, Dry Shampoo, Hair Spray, Tampons.

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