Vegan Makeup Brands We Love!

The Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Makeup

What is vegan makeup?

There are many labels found on the beauty products we use every day that lead us to believe they are the best for our skin and health. Unfortunately, these can be quite misleading. In the world of cosmetics, there are no legal definitions for “clean”, “natural”, or “organic”.

Therefore, it is crucial to do some research before purchasing your beauty products to ensure you are receiving the highest-quality makeup. After all, this makeup is oftentimes used every day and can impact the health of our skin and organs! Many times, brands will claim to be “natural”, “paraben-free”, or “sulfate-free” and in reality, they are nothing of the sort.

The first step to this research is to know what to avoid when reading the labels on products.

What ingredients to avoid

  1. Parabens

Parabens are carcinogenic and can cause an array of issues for our bodies. These can include endocrine disruption, allergies, organ toxicity, and reproductive health. For many, they can also simply cause some irritation on the parts of the body exposed.

***While not exactly excluded from the vegan lifestyle, parabens and other harsh chemicals like sulfates and polyethylene glycol aren’t natural and can cause harm to our bodies! When looking for a more natural, ethical, and clean product, leaving out these types of chemicals can be beneficial.***

  1. Synthetic fragrance

Synthetic fragrances are also considered carcinogenic causing many of the same issues that parabens do on our bodies.

  1. Sulfates

Sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are oftentimes included in our beauty products and can cause problems much like the above chemicals. Sulfates can be found in soaps, exfoliators, shampoos, and body washes.

  1. Polyethylene glycol

Polyethylene glycol is found in many of our cosmetic products for hair, face, and body.

  1. Petrochemicals

These chemicals are exactly what they sound like based on their name. Petrochemicals are obtained from petroleum and natural gas sources. Who wants that in something they use for their face?

  1. Carmine

Carmine is a pigment that is derived from crushed insects. This is typically found in blushes and lipsticks to give it a red color! On a cosmetic label that may look like: Cochineal Dye, Crimson Lake, Carmine Lake, Cochineal Extract, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120.

  1. Animal-derived ingredients

These can include ingredients like beeswax, honey, lanolin, gelatin, collagen, and more! The following list are animal-derived ingredients and how they may appear on a cosmetic label:

  • Lanolin: Wool Wax or Wool Grease
  • Gelatin: Gelatine
  • Beeswax: Cera Alba or E901
  • Collagen
  • Retinol: Vitamin A
  • Guanine: G, Gua
  • Tallow: Rendered Animal Fat
  • Ambergris: Ambergrease or Grey Amber
  • Carmine (read above)

What to look for in vegan makeup

Vegan makeup consists of products that do not contain animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. Common ingredients in cosmetic items include beeswax, honey, lanolin, albumen, collagen, cholesterol, gelatin, and more.

The labels on the products containing these ingredients may still say “natural” or “organic” which can lead many people to believe they are cruelty-free and ethical. While some of these ingredients may be natural, they are not vegan!

As we have covered, terms like “vegan” are not regulated. Therefore, there is no one definition for it. Some people following a vegan lifestyle include whether a product has had animal testing or not in their criteria for vegan products. Often, these individuals will only include items that are free from animal testing. However, there are many products out there claiming to be vegan that do participate in animal testing.

This makes it more important than ever to research the vegan makeup products you are using! Vegan products are not all cruelty-free.

Are cruelty-free products vegan?

Not necessarily. Just as vegan products aren’t always cruelty-free, the same goes for cruelty-free products not always being vegan. For a product to be cruelty-free, there cannot be any form of animal testing done at any point during the creation of that product.

Cruelty-free products can still contain all of the ingredients talked about above that would eliminate it from being considered vegan!

Ultimately, whether you plan to shop vegan or cruelty-free (or both), research is your best friend. There are so many ways companies can trick customers with misleading labels.

For example, if you are shopping for cruelty-free items (which many vegans do), it is important to know that some companies falsely label their products as so. The trick that these companies play is in the wording of the non-regulated definition of cruelty-free. Here, these companies state that their finished product is not tested on animals. They fail to include that there is animal testing done along the way or testing is done individually on the ingredients used in their products.

Another note on tricky cruelty-free brands is that some countries require animal testing for products to be sold there. An example of this would be China. If a product is sold in Mainland China, one can assume that this product is not cruelty-free as animal testing is required by law.

Moral of the story, before purchasing cruelty-free or vegan makeup, do your research!

Are vegetarian products vegan?

While the names sound similar, the products can be vastly different. Just as we established with cruelty-free products, vegetarian products don’t necessarily need to be vegan. There are many products labeled as vegetarian that contain animal products.

While most vegetarian products do not contain animal parts like fat, gelatin, or meat, some still contain ingredients like lanolin or honey.

Another thing to distinguish between all of these types of products is that vegetarian products aren’t necessarily cruelty-free either.

Let’s recap! Differences between cruelty-free, vegetarian, and vegan makeup

Cruelty-free makeup

  • Have not been tested on animals
  • Are not sold in Mainland China
  • Do not contain ingredients that have been tested on animals
  • May contain animal-derived ingredients

Vegetarian makeup

  • Do not contain animal fat, gelatin, or meat
  • May contain animal by-products like lanolin or honey
  • Not always cruelty-free

Vegan makeup

  • Do not contain ingredients derived from animals
  • May not have been tested on animals
  • May not contain ingredients tested on animals
  • May not be sold in China

Checking if a brand or product is cruelty-free

Since many individuals (vegan or not) purchase cruelty-free items, it is essential to know how to check whether a product has been tested on animals. There are many routes you can take in having a better understanding of the cruelty-free status of your products. If you want to learn more about checking whether your product is cruelty-free or not, read our Guide to Living Cruelty-Free post!

Top vegan makeup brands


Cover FX (vegan + cruelty-free)

Cover FX understands the uniqueness of everyone’s skin and skincare routine. Products made by this vegan makeup brand are formulated for customization allowing customers to mix products to find their perfect product regimen.

Natural ingredients Cover FX uses in their products include green tea leaves, antioxidant-rich algae, and more! Being free of parabens, fragrance, gluten, sulfates, phthalates, and mineral oils, they are the perfect natural vegan makeup brand.

As Cover FX says “beauty means taking care of yourself and the world around you”!

100% Pure (vegan + cruelty-free)

100% Pure is not only the name of this brand but a perfect way to describe all of their products and ingredients. This brand has committed to giving the healthiest and highest-quality products to customers and educating them on how important it is to be 100% pure with the products they buy! They include not only humans in this equation but the countless number of animals saved by making this commitment.

SAPPHO New Paradigm (vegan + cruelty-free)

SAPPHO New Paradigm is a Canadian company that explores organic and vegan makeup. The brand is quite luxurious in that it was founded by JoAnn Fowler who saw the need for a more natural makeup line for her clients (which were actors and extras)! Oh, in case you didn’t know, JoAnn is also an Emmy-nominated makeup artist. Who wouldn’t want to shop here?

SAPPHO ensures the highest-quality products and provides proof to customers by outlining all of their promises on their website. Just a few of them include being Vegan & Cruelty-Free certified by PETA, making products that do not contain harmful or hormone disruptive ingredients, and creating products loaded with antioxidants!

Hynt Beauty (mostly vegan + cruelty-free)

Hynt Beauty brings a lot to the table. This vegan makeup brand gives its customers information they can trust regarding vegan makeup, guidance on beauty choices, and the highest-quality products out there! How are their products of the highest quality you may wonder? Well, each ingredient used in a product by Hynt Beauty must go through their individualized cross-category checklist. Points on this checklist include:

  • High ingredient quality
  • Naturally derived or organic
  • Beneficial to skin
  • Efficacious
  • Eco-conscious
  • Cruelty-free
  • Suitable for all skin types

Vegan makeup brands - Hynt Beauty makeup set

Aether Beauty (vegan + cruelty-free)

Aether Beauty was created when founder Tiila Abbitt discovered that there were only 11 banned chemicals in the United States for color cosmetics while there are over 1,300 in the European Union. From there, she vowed to create cleaner makeup products for the user and the Earth.

This vegan makeup brand lives by sustainability! That is why a portion of sales from each purchase goes to environmental charities to give back and make the Earth a better place.

Vegan makeup is the future

As you have seen, there are already many companies striving to make a change in the world by offering vegan makeup. This isn’t even half of the brands out there making strides to do so (they are just our favorites)!

If there was ever a time to switch the cosmetics you use daily, it is now. With so much happening in the world, making an impact by simply switching to a more natural product is easy and crucial.

Start today and save the world tomorrow!

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