Vegan and cruelty-free beauty products are becoming increasingly more accessible—and popular. And the great news is, you don’t have to break the bank for the sake of a good beat face. There are a number of cruelty-free cosmetics brands—many of which are vegan or carry vegan products—that allow you to serve some major looks on a budget.
But what makes makeup cruelty-free and vegan?
What Makes Beauty Products Vegan and Cruelty-Free?
Some beauty products contain animal-derived ingredients. These include beeswax, honey, carmine (crushed insects), gelatin, squalene (shark liver oil), lanolin (wool grease), fish scales, and allantoin (cow urine)—just to name a few. Yuck.
According to the animal welfare organization Humane Society of the United States, animals like rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs are given tests in order to test the efficacy of cosmetics products. However, in the U.S., these tests are not required by law.
Skin irritation experiments and force-feeding are just some of the tests that researchers perform on animals to test cosmetics products’ safety and hypoallergenic properties. And at the end of the experiments, the animals are killed.
Thankfully, many regions have already banned animal-tested cosmetics. And a number of beauty brands carry products that have not been tested on animals. (Check out our complete guide to vegan and cruelty-free beauty and skincare brands, and by some of your favorite celebs.)
Cruelty-Free Beauty on a Budget: Top 10 Under $20
Beauty doesn’t have to equal pain—especially for the animals. We’ve curated a list of ten of the top cruelty-free brands that carry exceptional products under $20. You can find most of these at drugstores and superstores like Target, and all are available online. Time to stock up, and glow up.
1. e.l.f. Cosmetics
One-hundred percent vegan and cruelty-free brand e.l.f. Cosmetics churns out quality and affordable beauty products without causing harm to animals. The company’s best sellers include Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow ($5), Flawless Finish Foundation ($6), and 100 Color Eyeshadow Palette ($15). Can you beat these prices?
Another 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free brand, Pacifica, carries a wide range of skincare, makeup, and other beauty products—all at affordable prices. The company is also big on sustainability. Pacifica’s recycling program enables customers to obtain a pre-paid shipping label to send plastic containers to the company to be recycled. Try Pacifica’s Leave Pretty Anti-Puff Eye Patches ($5), Wake Up Beautiful Mask ($15), or Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream ($16).
Available at most drugstores, Milani is a cruelty-free brand. Although some of the company’s products contain animal-derived ingredients (such as beeswax and carmine), it does offer a fairly extensive vegan range of more than 50 products. Milani’s Vegan Beauty Makeup collection includes products like Weekend Brow Eyebrow Tint ($8.99), Rosewater Hydrating Mist ($9.99), and the Rose Sugar Lip Scrub ($9.99).
4. NYX Cosmetics
Although this company is owned by L’Oréal (not cruelty-free), NYX is certified cruelty-free. This beauty brand carries a number of vegan goodies like Suede Matte Lipstick ($8), Filler Instinct Plumping Lip Color ($8), and Micro Brow Pencil ($10).
In need of budget-friendly makeup? Look no further than Jordana. The brand is 100 percent cruelty-free and features an extensive vegan collection with too-good-to-be-true prices. Try Jordana’s Best Brow Pencil ($1.99), Take Cover Full Coverage Concealer ($4.99), and Forever Flawless Pressed Powder ($2.99).
In search of cruelty-free cosmetics? LUSH has got you covered. According to the company, more than 80 percent of its products are vegan. It also has a commitment to environmental stewardship. LUSH offers products free from plastic packaging and sustainably sources its ingredients. Try the Face and Body Mask ($11.95), Face and Body Cleanser ($16.95), and Mascara ($19.95).
7. Honest Beauty
You may be familiar with Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company, which sells everything from laundry detergents to baby wipes. But in 2015, the actress branched out and launched Honest Beauty—your go-to source for clean, natural, and organic beauty products. And they’re all cruelty-free! The company also offers a vegan range with products like Gentle Gel Cleaner ($12.99), Tinted Lip Balms ($8.99), and Liquid Lipsticks ($14.99).
8. Milk Makeup
Although it is one of the pricier brands on the list (albeit still affordable!)—if you are looking for a completely vegan and cruelty-free company—Milk Makeup is an absolute must. The brand carries paraben-free makeup products like the Kush Lip Balm ($16), Mini Lip and Cheek color ($15), and Mini Matte Bronzer ($15). You can also snag some of the company’s vegan and cruelty-free skincare staples. Try the Mini Vegan Milk Moisture ($19) and the brand’s Mini Vegan Milk Cleanser ($15). Plus, the company is big on sustainability and uses sustainably sourced ingredients whenever possible.
9. Pixi Beauty
Although the makeup brand Pixi Beauty isn’t completely vegan, it is definitely cruelty-free! The downside of Pixi Beauty is that it doesn’t have a dedicated vegan beauty range. However, many of its products do not contain any animal-derived ingredients—you’ll just have to do your due diligence and read through the ingredients list! For shimmery lips, try the brand’s Lip Icing ($14). The gloss features rosehip seed oil, marula oil, and mica for added luminosity.
Now that you’ve got all of your vegan and cruelty-free makeup essentials secured—head to EcoTools for all your makeup brush needs! The brand carries 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free synthetic makeup brushes, sponges, and applicators, as well as bath accessories, that are also eco-friendly. Snag the Tapered Powder Brush and Flawless Buffer Head Set ($9.99) and Perfecting Sponge Makeup Blender made with recycled and sustainable materials. The company packages its self-care products in biodegradable and plantable packaging that contains 88 percent less plastic. Just place the seeded packaging into the ground and watch it turn into wildflowers when watered!
LIVEKINDLY is here to help you navigate the growing marketplace of sustainable products that promote a kinder planet. All of our selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, LIVEKINDLY may earn a commission.