Cruelty Free Makeup And Skincare


So last year, in addition to deciding I would no longer support sweatshop labor, I decided that I no longer felt comfortable buying makeup or skincare items that were tested on animals.  I thought it might be interesting to some people to share the products I use.  I am definitely not working with a gigantic budget k at a non-profit), so if I can do it, you can do it! You just have to do some research and know your priorities.

It’s important to note some things before I proceed:

  • the cruelty free label applied to most products in the United States doesn’t always mean that the item is not tested on animals, so that cute little Leaping Bunny logo on  your mascara might not mean jack. You have to look into it more. Sorry!  Basically, Chinese law requires that all cosmetic items be tested on animals before sale to humans, so a brand that does not test on animals in the United States but sells their items in the Asian market is going to involve some animal testing. I feel divided by this because you can’t really expect any company that is growing and succeeding to ignore the Asian market– that’s business suicide!  I give these companies a pass if I’ve researched them and feel good about them otherwise. It’s a tough decision I’d rather not make, but sometimes I feel like the other option is to not wear makeup o take care of my skin at all! It’s a personal call, and one I won’t try to make for you. Just do your research and do some thinking on where you draw the line!
  • There are some cruelty-free companies, like The Body Shop, for example, who are owned by parent companies who do test on animals. (The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal who is decidedly NOT cruelty free.)  Again, this is a matter of you doing some research and making your own call. For example, I do not buy products from The Body Shop because L’Oreal is a giant conglomerate who owns a lot of non-cruelty free companies, so it’s pretty clear to me that being cruelty-free is not a priority of theirs. Kat Von D, however, is owned by Kendo, who is owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), but the Kat Von D brand itself is devoted to cruelty free and ethical practicals.  It’s definitely a gray area, but I’d rather support a brand like Kat Von D, which is trying, than a brand who doesn’t seem to care. See how complicated it is! It’s worth considering the principles of the individual brand itself– supporting the cruelty free brand in a brand family is likely to draw more funds to the cruelty free arm of the brand family, for what that’s worth.
  • Do your research! Personally, I ignore anything PETA has to say because PETA is full of manipulative garbage people, but I like Paula’s Choice, Cruelty Free Kitty, and my favorite, the general makeup thread on the vegan forum the PPK.  The people who frequent this forum have really done their research and I respect the hell out of them. As a general rule, if vegans are ethnically okay with a cosmetic, it’ll probably reach my standards, too.



Cleanser- Everyday Coconut Facial Cleanser. This brand is pretty solid and you can get it at Whole Foods and on Amazon. I dunno, I like it. It takes off my makeup and rinses off with no residue, which is sort of all you can really ask of a cleanser, right?

Toner- Thayer’s Witch Hazel with Rose.  Witch hazel is good for your skin, and this toner is alcohol-free and contains aloe.  My skin tends to be dry so I need moisturizing more than anything else.  When I’m going through a period of weird breakouts, I like this tea tree oil one from LUSH.

Serum– I use this one from Evan Healy in the morning. I got it with a gift card from the apothecary near my work (I knooooooooow, that’s so pretentious, but if you are ever in Chicago you HAVE to check out Merz. It is the best!).  Honestly? I’m not sure if it’s really making a difference, which is kind of a bummer because it wasn’t cheap. I have a friend who has the blue algae one from Evan Healy and likes it a lot, so maybe I just got the wrong one.

Daytime moisturizer– I always try to buy one with SPF 15 in it so I don’t get wrinkles any sooner than absolutely necessary because I am vain and afraid of cancer. I tried this one and it was HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE. Pro-tip: Zinc oxide is all-natural and sun-protectant and approved by hippies.  It also doesn’t absorb into your skin and leaves you with a white cast that makes you look as if you have come down with typhoid or similar. Instead, I now use this one from Alba Botanica. (You can get it at Target!) The active ingredient is a scary chemical but it does not make me look like the girl from the Ring so I count that as a win.  Plus it smells nice.

Nighttime moisturizer- This rose oil from Badger. I LOVE BADGER. Guys, they do not just make those weird muscle rubs your dad likes! Also, please check out their website.  They are a B Corporation and they have stuff like on-site daycare for working moms and cray employee satisfaction. Plus, this shit is the opposite of that serum. I am very sure that it is making a difference– my skin has never looked better.



Shampoo and Conditioner– I have really short hair right now and I don’t wash it too often to avoid getting a dry scalp, but I LOVE love love everything Shea Moisture. Shea Moisture is woman-owned and cruelty free with natural ingredients and you can find it at Target!  I like that more cruelty free stuff is becoming more readily available.

I use their conditioner and I used to use their shampoo, too, but I strayed to a different brand I don’t like as much. As soon as I run out I am re-purchasing Shea Moisture.

Body Care


Lotion– Alba Botaniaca – I use the unscented one. It comes in a truly enormous bottle but it does the job and doesn’t have a scent, which is something I have grown to appreciate the older I have gotten. My boyfriend uses it too, so it is man-approved.

Perfume– Perfume is a really personal choice but personally I love NEST. Pacifica’s rollerballs are also both affordable and last on the skin for a long time.

Body scrub- Shea Moisture for this, too. I have the lemongrass and ginger one. It smells awesome and is very exfoliating but never irritates. Also available at Target.



Foundation and concealer– I don’t wear those. My skintone is pretty even. It’s all genes and I’m a brat. Sorry.

Mascara– YO DRUGSTORE MASCARAS ARE ALMOST ALL TESTED ON ANIMALS.  I buy this one from Too Faced. It is bonkers expensive. Its name is dumb. But it is the best mascara I have used in my damn life, you can get it at Sephora so it’s accessible for almost everyone, and you can have the VIB points to soothe your hurt wallet. I went from no one ever mentioning my eyelashes to several people asking me if I was wearing falsies the week I switched to this stuff and I am not kidding.

Liquid eyelinerthe Kat Von D tattoo liner. DONE. Donnnne. There is nothing that does a cat eye better.

Eyeshadow, pencil eyeliner, blush, highlighter, bronzer, lipsticks, lipliners, liquid lipsticks- Colourpop. Guys! Are you not buying most of your shit from Colourpop yet?! What are you waiting for?! Colourpop is so good– I don’t know how they do it. Not only are all their products made in the USA and not tested on animals, but they have a truly insane shade range, come out with new stuff literally constantly, and are affordable as HELL. They only ship to the US right now but that’s about to change. Also it’s only available online and their shipping is kind of slow (it’s also totally up for grabs as to whether you’ll get a shipping confirmation email), but in my opinion it’s totally worth it and shipping is free if you buy $30 worth of stuff. I had to put a freeze on myself from buying more because I had so much. Everyone I’ve introduced to Colourpop so far is an intensely devoted fan. Favorites? Their lippie stix, creme gel eyeshadows, highlighters, and eyeliners (their eyeliners are the perfect width, and they are twist ups instead of sharpeners which is a must for me)


So that was a mammoth post! Let me know in the comments how you feel about the cruelty-free thing!





9 thoughts on “Cruelty Free Makeup And Skincare

  1. Good read – I like your balanced view on this, it’s definitely complex – much like how I feel as a vegetarian about buying leather shoes – they last longer than faux ones and are a natural product, so ethically that makes them better…? idk. I buy most of my beauty products from Bareminerals which are animal testing-free and don’t sell in China, plus a drugstore here which has a no-animal testing policy. I use plain old aqueous cream for cleanser, shower gel and moisturiser and whatever SLS-free shampoo is on sale at Whole Foods.

    • Katie I totally agree with you– I’m not a vegetarian but I dithered about leather goods for a while and came to the same conclusion as you. I also know that England has higher standards for cruelty-free items than the US!

      In all things, but this included, I really believe in doing what you can. Is it reasonable for everything I use on my face and body to be perfect and single-sourced and fair trade and ethical? I wish so, but not right now. Maybe in the future when I have more disposable income, but right now I focus on just doing the best that I can with the resources I have.

  2. I was so excited to see this post because I’ve recently committed to being cruelty-free, so it was super interesting for me! It’s not that I was pro animal testing before; I just sort of didn’t realize how prevalent it still was. Sometimes I assume we’ve moved on from bad practices as a society and then find out how naive I’ve been. I started thinking about cruelty free when I started wearing nail polish and read on some blogs that certain brands tested on animals (Essie, I’m looking at you and all your beautiful colors I can’t buy because you’re jerks to animals!). Nail polish is such an indulgence for me that there was no way I wanted to wear something that a bunny had suffered for. And once I started paying attention to nail polish brands, I realized how much of my other stuff wasn’t cruelty free. For now, I’m semi-okay with buying things from cruelty-free brands that are owned by larger companies that test on animals (like Urban Decay), but I’m trying to transition to 100% cruelty free wherever I can.

    I just got that Too Faced mascara and it really is amazing. It’s the only mascara I’ve ever had that didn’t clump from the very beginning. We’ll see how long the clump-free utopia lasts, but for now I’m very impressed. I totally agree on the Kat Von D tattoo liner, and I wish it came in more colors! I wasn’t even aware of Colourpop’s existence so thanks for introducing me to it. I am definitely going to check it out for eyeshadows because I love non-powder eyeshadows for their longevity and I’m having a hard time finding colors I like in the cruelty-free brands I can get at Ulta and Sephora. I’m also going to try out the Shea Moisture shampoo. I need to make a switch to moisturizing shampoo that’s cruelty-free and I’m not totally in love with the one I’m trying right now (Giovanni). I found one at my salon that’s excellent, Davines, but I’m not trying to spend $30 each on standard-sized shampoo and conditioner, so I’m looking for a more affordable option. Shea Moisture sounds like just the thing. For skincare I’ve been using Paula’s Choice, and while I love their animal testing stance, some of the things I’ve been using seem to be drying my skin out too much. Sometimes I stop by the Ulta at Monroe and State on the way home from work, so I’ll have to check out Merz the next time I do since it’s just around the corner!

    My next two goals are finding a foaming hand soap that’s cruelty-free (I have a disturbing addiction to Bath and Body Works soaps because I love the seasonal scents, but they just changed their statement to the whole “no testing except where required by law” thing, so they’re a no go), and switching my household cleaning products to cruelty-free. I hadn’t even thought about cleaning stuff, but Cruelty Free Kitty had a post about it and I realized that everything I buy is pretty much cruelty-filled. I’ve tried Method before and don’t really care for much of their stuff, so this is going to be a hard one.

  3. Love this post! I have recently moved over to using Arbonne products which my friend is a consultant for. They are PETA approved and have never tested on animals. They also use all natural plant based products and are vegan. My main reason for moving was all the natural ingredients they use but the no testing on animals was definitely a drawcard too. You should check them out!

  4. YES! I’ve made the switch to only purchasing non-animal tested products and I hate that I still have animal tested makeup still in my house that I use. The damage is really already done there, so I’d only be taking a stand against myself.

    Having my own two bunnies, I would be irate if any harm came to them from makeup! It just made sense to use cruelty free products, ya know?!

    I love Too Faced and I use Nars also. Thanks for the tip on that liquid eyeliner – I got one from Nars and I really don’t like it. I have to press too hard to get the liquid out and by then I’m blinking and have gobs of black all over my eyes. Not pretty. lol

    • Your bunnies are the cutest! That Kat von D is the best eyeliner ever! I am garbage at drawing a cat eye and I can sort of sometimes make it work with that one haha

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