Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
The search for the best mascara is a feat in itself, not to mention the search for the best cruelty-free mascara, which is why we were all the more delighted when we found such a wide assortment of guilt-free formulas that claimed to lengthen, condition, darken, curl, and add volume to lashes just like our old standbys.
You’d think finding cruelty-free beauty products would be difficult, right? While it does involve some research, we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a few mainstream brands that refrain from testing their products on our furry little friends. So while you might unknowingly own a cruelty-free mascara or two, for those of you who don't, we’ve compiled the best critter-conscious mascaras to get you caught up.
Keep reading for our roundup of the best cruelty-free mascaras on the market.
Best Overall: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
There’s a reason this mascara is a consistent bestseller for the brand and at Sephora. It does it all—lifts, curls, volumizes, and conditions in just one application. The 360-degree magniLASH wand helps separate each individual lash, making them appear more plentiful. Plus, ingredients such as rice bran and provitamin B5 nourish lash hairs. As a bonus, the formula is PETA-approved vegan, which means it’s not only not tested on animals, but there are no animal by-products in the mascara.
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup Doll Eye Long Lash Mascara
Yes, even the drugstore has cruelty-free beauty products. Take for instance this mascara made with natural oils and vitamin E for longer, extended lashes. Thicker, fuller, more defined lashes that won’t smudge or flake, plus a vegan and cruelty-free formula, all for a bargain of a price. We’re not sure how NYX Professional Makeup does it, but we’re glad they do.
Best Drugstore: CoverGirl Flourish by LashBlast Mascara
CoverGirl made big news in 2018 when the brand announced that all of its products are now Leaping Bunny certified (which means they voluntarily agree not to test on animals in any way). That includes this mascara which doubles as a lash treatment. The creamy, highly-pigmented formula defines lashes and allows you to build to your desired volume, while conditioning ingredients such as coconut oil, papaya, and avocado deliver moisture and nourishment to your lashes.
Take a peek at some of the other best drugstore mascaras you can buy.
Best for Sensitive Eyes: ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara
Mascara has always been a tricky product for those with sensitive eyes. What seems like it should work in the tube often leaves your eyes burning, itching, red, and irritated. But this super clean beauty mascara really does what it promises, without irritation.
The cruelty-free formula doesn’t contain known irritants including nano-particles, synthetic fragrances, soy, and gluten. It’s also free of potentially harmful ingredients including parabens, formaldehyde, mineral oil, and coal tar (a colorant that can contain heavy metals). Instead, the mascara is made with beeswax and carnauba waxes, shea butter, and keratin to condition and strengthen lashes. Plus, it’s super easy to remove—just rinse with warm water. No rubbing, tugging (and resulting irritation) required.
Interested in learning more about this product? Check out our ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara review.
Best Volumizing: Beautycounter Volumizing Mascara
You might not expect to see a super-dramatic lash look from a clean beauty company, but that’s exactly what you get with this best-selling mascara. In fact, company research shows a whopping 385% increase in volume after just two coats. Yes, you read that number right. The hourglass-shaped brush hugs the curves of your lashes and lifts, separates, and coats even your littlest lashes with a plumping formula made with natural fibers and waxes, and nourishing Bataua oil.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best volumizing mascaras.
Best Lengthening: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extension Mascara
This brand claims to sell one mascara every nine seconds. One of their most popular is this formula, which contains liquid fibers that adhere to lashes, elongating them instantly. It works by creating individual tubes around lashes that don’t smear, smudge, or flake off.
The cruelty-free, paraben-free mascara also contains Orchid stem cells to encourage lash growth. Plus, Korean plant extracts and Piperitum fruit extract (Japanese pepper) to hydrate and soothe. Even better: With every purchase, the brand makes a donation to a woman in need.
See more reviews of our favorite lengthening mascaras available for purchase.
Best Waterproof: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara
Waterproof mascaras serve their purpose if you want dark lashes that can withstand a dip in the pool or a good cry. But if you want a dramatic, lush-looking fringe, they’re usually not the best formula. Most waterproof formulas make lashes look and feel dry, and they never quite live up to their non-waterproof, volumizing counterparts. Except this one really does.
The waterproof version is just as good as the cult-favorite original formula. It lifts, separates, curls, and adds an insane amount of volume—only now it doesn’t budge thanks to the addition of water-resistant polymers.
Best Natural: Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Ultra-Natural Mascara
We know natural mascaras get a bad rap, but this cruelty-free and naturally derived formula from Juice Beauty is an exception, as it delivers a rich color payoff on lashes, while lengthening and volumizing them at the same time.
Best Dense Color: Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara
This cruelty-free mascara also happens to be 74% natural. Made from ubame oak and natural polysaccharides, this creamy iteration builds for dense, dark coverage that lasts all day. While the brush may be a little intimidating, don't knock it until you try it. Reviewers say it helps with volume and separation of the lashes.
Still can't decide on what you want? Our roundup of the best mascaras can help you find what you're looking for.