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Clean and green beauty may be getting all the buzz these days, but let’s not forget cruelty-free beauty. A distinction that used to be reserved only for small, niche brands, more and more cruelty-free makeup products—including affordable drugstore options—are now on the market.
It's worth pointing out that the term can sometimes get thrown around loosely, so it’s important to do a little research and make sure these brands actually produce products that don't harm animals. Look for certifications like the Leaping Bunny seal, or check out PETA’s helpful resources if you want to be extra sure. Or, you can shop from our list of favorite brands that produce high-quality, harm-free makeup at great budget price points.
Read on for the best cruelty-free drugstore makeup brands.
The brand: When creating Flower Beauty, Drew Barrymore’s mission was to create high-quality products at accessible prices. Being cruelty-free has also been a point of focus since day one, and many of the products also vegan.
The hero product: For one reason or another, finding a good gel or cream blush at the drugstore had always proved a little tricky—until Flower Beauty’s Blush Bomb Color Drops came along. A gel-cream hybrid, this formula is perfectly silky and lightweight, blending seamlessly into skin. Bonus points for the applicator, which makes it easy to dispense drop-by-drop until you reach your desired level of flushness.
Originally launched in the UK over two decades ago, the brand has become a stateside drugstore staple—and a 100% cruelty-free one at that. Their goods all use hardworking, active ingredients in formulas that truly deliver, whether it's in their skincare or makeup offerings.
The hero product: Okay, technically the Pixi Glow Tonic isn’t a makeup product, but it’s so iconic we can’t not mention it. The glycolic acid-based exfoliating toner brightens and smooths, generally leaving your complexion looking all-around radiant and glowing. It’s alcohol-free and not in the least bit drying.
Wet N Wild
The brand: This brand is well known for amazing products at rock-bottom prices—but they’ve been cruelty-free for decades and do no animal testing. They’ve also earned a spot on PETA’s prestigious Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free list, so you know they’re super legit.
The hero product: Try this insanely amazing arch-perfector and we’re willing to bet you’ll ditch any other brow product you were using. The Ultimate Brow Retractable's creamy color glides on seamlessly to fill and define brows, while the built-in spoolie blends everything to perfection.
The brand: A staple of the drugstore makeup scene, this brand recently undertook the massive effort of making all of their products totally cruelty-free. It was a process that took years, but now they’re Leaping Bunny certified, the gold standard for cruelty-free certification in the beauty world.
The hero product: Beauty editors rave about the CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara, repeatedly making the claim that it’s a nearly identical (if not better) dupe for a much pricier luxury formula that shall not be named. A volumizing formula coupled with a specially-designed brush leave lashes looking full and fluttery, and it doesn’t smudge or clump.
The brand: A Target mainstay, Sonia Kashuk doesn't test ingredients or finished products on animals, nor do they work with suppliers that test on animals. They even refused to sell on mainland China so that they would remain completely cruelty-free.
The hero product: Per the cruelty-free point, you better believe that the bristles on the Essential Flat-Top Foundation Brush are completely synthetic—yet they're such great quality you’d never known it. Soft and not in the least bit scratchy, we also love the flat-top of this brush that's ideal for buffing in foundation for an airbrushed effect.
The brand: Beloved by beauty bloggers and pro makeup artists alike, this affordable brand—known for constantly churning out a laundry list of amazing and on-trend launches—is also committed to being cruelty-free. They’ve been such since 2010, and are certified and acknowledged by PETA.
The hero product: This brand's Soft Matte Lip Cream strikes that seemingly-impossible balance of having a true matte finish, yet still feeling delightfully creamy on lips. Super pigmented, the color sets in seconds (and stays put), and there’s an incredible line-up of varied shades to choose from.
The brand: Milani has been Leaping Bunny certified since 2014 and many of the products are also vegan. It's a brand that consistently comes out with incredibly high-performing products that ring in at incredibly wallet-friendly prices.
The hero product: You get a trio of micro-milled, supremely silky highlighting powders in the Stellar Lights Highlighter Palette, all of which impart plenty of gorgeously shimmery color. Swirl them together or use them individually; you really can’t go wrong.
These tones also look stunning dusted on eyelids.
The brand: Shade inclusivity is prevalent in the beauty world these days, but that wasn’t the case when supermodel Iman launched her eponymous line in 1994. Hence her emphasis on creating products that come in shades for all skin tones—and they also happen to be cruelty-free.
The hero product: The Luxury Concealing Foundation earns major points not only for the long-wearing formula and radiant texture but also for the buildable yet full-coverage. It works just as well as an all-over foundation as it does as a concealer to spot treat areas of discoloration and redness. And, of course, there are plenty of shades for darker skin tones.
The brand: True to the name, all of these eco-friendly tools are not only cruelty-free, touting high-quality synthetic bristles in their brushes, but are also environmentally-friendly. The handles are made of sustainable bamboo, and their packaging is both biodegradable and plantable.
The hero product: The Start the Day Beautifully Kit contains pretty much all the makeup brushes you could ever need. It comes with five staples—blush brush, foundation brush, concealer brush, eyeshadow brush, and liner brush—and the packaging doubles as a convenient storage tray.
The brand: Being cruelty-free and offering vegan products is a priority for the brand, arguably one of the biggest players on the drugstore makeup scene. They even created a custom palette to raise money for a pit bull rescue in L.A. Be still, our puppy-loving hearts.
The hero product: Pretty much any and every e.l.f. product is a hit with team Byrdie, but the Baked Highlighter is a particular fave. Packed with a laundry list of hydrating oils plus vitamin E, the highlighter is perfectly creamy, melting into the skin for that coveted, lit-from-within look. Use it dry for a more sheer wash of color or wet to up the intensity of the glimmer.
The brand: Around since 1994, Blk/Opl emphasizes both skincare and makeup for women of color. The brand has perfectly maintained this heritage while evolving and consistently launching modern offerings and formulas.
The hero product: There’s a good reason why the Perfecting Stick Foundation is the brand’s number one best-seller. The multi-tasking foundation stick works yes, as a foundation, but also as an effective concealer and even contour color. It comes in 19 colors, all of which also feature a Shade ID technology that helps to match your skin tone even better.
The brand: Every Real Techniques product is vegan, 100% cruelty-free, and PETA-certified. That means, when it comes to their brushes, you can feel confident you’re getting synthetic bristles. Not to mention, incredibly high-quality synthetic bristles.
The hero product: We love the Artist's Essentials Brush Set as a fun add-on to your basic brush staples. It comes with five tools that pro makeup artists love, including a fan brush, stubby liner brush, and a dome-shaped accent brush. All feature synthetic bristles that are super plush and easy to clean.