Vegan and cruelty-free beauty was once earthy, cardboardy and decidedly unglamorous, relegated to difficult-to-find corners of the internet. Now, with 3.5 million vegans in the UK, and many more people who are against testing on animals, things are changing.
Some brands are entirely vegan; others make vegan and non-vegan products. Hourglass, for example, makes some vegan products and has pledged to be 100 per cent vegan by 2020.
If you prefer an entirely vegan and cruelty-free company, you may have to go a little more niche.
Selling products that use animal testing is illegal under EU law, but companies may use animal testing elsewhere when they sell into other markets. Esteé Lauder (which owns brands such as Mac, Clinique and Bobbi Brown) doesn’t qualify as a cruelty-free company as, despite not testing in the UK, it does sell in China, where the law is different. It does, however, own some brands that don’t sell in China, such as Aveda and Too Faced, which are cruelty-free.
There is no legal regulation around labelling products as vegan, and cruelty-free does not necessarily mean a product doesn’t include animal-derived ingredients, so double check if in doubt. Some brands display the Vegan Society and/or Leaping Bunny logo, which is the internationally recognised no-animal-testing symbol. If you want to double check before purchasing, we recommend checking brand websites, making use of Peta’s brand search function or checking ingredients on an online dictionary such as Paula’s Choice.
We rate every product here just as highly as our standard offerings.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Inika Liquid Foundation With Hyaluronic Acid: £33, inikaorganic.com
Inika is 100 per cent natural, cruelty-free and vegan, and carries the Vegan Society logo. Its best products are its foundations and powders, and we particularly love this hyaluronic acid-enriched foundation with aloe vera and jojoba, which is doing good things for your skin while also providing that sought-after natural, dewy coverage.
Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara: £25, cultbeauty.co.uk
Hourglass’s Caution Extreme Lash Mascara was an exciting launch in the beauty world this year – and it also happens to be vegan (the whole brand is cruelty-free, too). It has the luxe, weighty metal packaging we’ve come to expect from the brand, and its unusual triangular shape stops it rolling off surfaces and feels pleasingly like one of those pencil grips you used at school. The formula is densely black, lengthening and dramatic, but without clumps.
Lily Lolo Laid Bare Eye Palette: £21, lilylolo.co.uk
We love the wide range of Lily Lolo’s eyeshadow palettes – and this one is a multitasker, with natural, day-wear shades with subtle shimmer and a couple of darker ones to vamp things up in the evening. The only thing we don’t like is the foam applicators, which we never use and only take up space. Lily Lolo is cruelty-free but not entirely vegan; check the products that are suitable on its website.
Axiology Vegan Lipstick: £25, naturismo.com
Lipsticks are one of the trickier products to find vegan versions of because they often contain lanolin (which comes from woolly animals) and carmine (a red pigment made from beetles). US lipstick brand Axiology’s offering is completely cruelty-free and vegan, and packaged in luxe gold. We love Worth, a bright matte orange-toned red.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk: £16, charlottetilbury.com
A lot of Charlotte Tilbury products are vegan, while all of it is cruelty-free. You can find the full list on its website. Our must-have is the cult, suits-all nude liner Pillow Talk. Run it around the outer edges of your lip line to make your lips look thicker, pillowy and still natural.
Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops: £34, spacenk.com
The whole Cover FX range is cruelty-free, vegan and Peta approved. We love the Custom Enhancer Drops – highlighting and bronzing liquids in seven shades that you can wear alone, as a primer or add to foundation to customise your glow level. The shimmering gold Moonlight will suit most skin tones and is far subtler than it looks in the bottle.
The Ordinary Serum Foundation: £5.70, theordinary.com
The Ordinary is making waves in the beauty industry for its minimalist, big-results, low-prices approach. All its products are vegetarian and cruelty-free, and the majority are vegan.
The natural, semi-matte finish of this lightweight foundation is extraordinary for the price. Dispense it onto the back of your hand first, otherwise it will run between your fingers.
Illamasqua Beyond Powder in OMG: £34, illamasqua.com
Illamasqua is cruelty-free and, while not all its products are vegan, it boasts a selection of more than 100. Our favourite is highlighting Beyond Powder, which has a warm champagne gold hue and is very lightweight. If you want a more dramatic result, use with a wet brush (try the brand’s brush range, also vegan with synthetic bristles).
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer: £19.50, urbandecay.co.uk
Urban Decay offers a vegan range, which is cruelty-free and doesn’t contain animal-derived products. You can find the full list on its website. Our pick is the brand’s Naked Skin concealer, which is somehow at once natural and full coverage. It’s very creamy and sets without drying, making it great for masking fine lines and a good choice for more mature skin.
Kat Von D Ink Liner Liquid Eyeliner: £17, debenhams.com
Tattoo artist and vegan Kat Von D’s beauty line labels all vegan products and you can find a full list on the US website. We love its felt-tip liner, which is richly pigmented, has a satin-matte finish and doesn’t smudge or budge – even in the shower.
The Verdict: best vegan and cruelty-free makeup
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in