10 Cosmetic Brands That Still Test on Animals, and What to Use Instead

In 2020, there’s no excuse

Photo: Mohan Khadka via Unsplash

When I was 12 years old, I was given the task of writing a report and doing a presentation on a topic of my choice. I have always loved animals and thought it would be interesting to find out more about animal welfare. When I contacted several different organizations, they were kind enough to reply with all sorts of graphic materials detailing the horrors inflicted on animals by humans. I was thrilled with the help, but devastated. I had no idea how bad it was.

After working on the project, my mother and I both quit eating animals, and we’ve been vegetarian — now, vegan — ever since. As part of transitioning to veganism, I took a look at all areas of my life to ensure that I was minimizing my negative impact on animals. I thought I had always been careful when purchasing cosmetics, and I knew which drugstore brands should be avoided. But when I started to look at the more luxury makeup brands that I had purchased online, I found that many of them were being tested on animals.

But the good news is that there are literally thousands of cruelty-free and vegan options available for you to buy right now, so you never need to worry about replacing an old favorite. Here are some of the brands that perhaps you thought were cruelty-free, but aren’t, some great replacements, and the resources you can use to help make better-informed choices.

1. 😢 Dior

Although vegan animal rights activist Natalie Portman is the face of Dior, and the brand makes vegan shoes and accessories for her, they have not stopped testing their products on animals.

Switch to…

😊 Hourglass

The luxury cruelty-free brand that now has an entire vegan section. I would personally recommend their Ambient lighting palette for a perfectly contoured subtle glow.

2. 😢 Nars

Used to be cruelty-free, not anymore. This is because they now retail their products in China, where animal testing is required of foreign companies.

Switch to…

😊 Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs is a cruelty-free brand, not completely vegan, but you can read all of the ingredients for each product on their website. My personal favorite is the see-quins glam glitter liquid eye shadow which has excellent staying power.

3. 😢 Mac

I think a lot of people (including me, once!) assume that because Mac is a fresh, young brand that they are also a cruelty-free brand. Sadly, no.

Switch to…

😊 Make Up Geek

This brand offer a fantastic range of high-pigment eye shadows that definitely give Mac a run for their money and are a great value. They are not entirely vegan but have all their vegan items listed below.

4. 😢 Bobbi Brown

Oh Bobbi, isn’t it time you made the switch?

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😊 Stila

Stila disappointed me when they started selling in China and testing on animals, but they recently recommitted to being a cruelty-free brand. They’re not fully vegan, but they have full ingredients lists for each product. My favorite product is the One Step Correct, which gives you lovely flawless skin.

5. 😢 Shu Uemura

This is one of the brands I was the most heartbroken to realize is still testing on animals. Almost all of my skincare regime was from Shu Uemura, and my skin loved it.

Switch to…

😊 KVD Vegan Beauty

That’s right Kat Von D has revolutionized the cosmetics world by making their entire range vegan, making it super easy for you to shop worry-free!

6. 😢 Benefit

Benefit’s positive, hip vibe makes it a surprise that they are still testing on animals in order to be sold in China.

Switch to…

😊 Too Faced

All cruelty-free, all super-cute packaging — move over Benefit, you’ve met your match. Type “vegan” into the search, and it will bring up all the goodies you need for that flawless face of yours.

7. 😢 Make Up Forever

I used to love their foundation and concealer, but as soon as I started to see them featured in airports, I checked my bunny free app and sure enough: tested on animals.

Switch to…

😊 Tarte

Stepping in to fill their place is Tarte, I love their Amazonian Clay BB tinted moisturizer SPF 20. Again if you put “vegan” in the search function, you can bring up all the vegan goodies of which there are a lot — or you can just use the link below.

8. 😢 Sephora’s in-store brand

Another disappointing discovery, especially for their endless, fun nail colors!

Switch to…

😊 Barry M

A British institution since my teenage years. Their nail varnishes are cheap, cheerful and in an abundance of colors and finishes, they have a great selection of eye colors and pigments too. Everything is clearly labeled, but you can use the search word “vegan” to bring up all the vegan-friendly products.

9. 😢 Revlon

I can remember using my mum’s “fancy” Revlon lipstick when I was little, then the sets you could get in T.J. Maxx with a lipstick and matching nail color. Sadly, Revlon still tests on animals.

Switch to…

😊 E.L.F

A pocket-friendly brand that has received positive reviews from beauty bloggers, makeup artists, and celebrities — especially for their price point. And, all of their products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

10. 😢 Rimmel

Another British institution. Ask any Brit born in the ‘70s or ‘80s about lip colors “black cherry” or “heather shimmer,” and chances are they’ll know exactly what you mean. Sadly, the drugstore classic is not cruelty-free.

Switch to…

😊 NYX

Far superior to Rimmel, anyway. They have an abundance of high pigment eyeshadows and great brushes; I would personally recommend their makeup setting spray in dewy. You can search with “vegan” or select the vegan button to see all the options.

How can you check what you are buying?

PETA’s resources

Image courtesy of PETA

PETA has an extensive database of those companies that do and don’t test on animals. They also have an app you can download so you can check things when you are out and about.

Cruelty Free Kitty

This excellent online resource is regularly updated, has a search function, and also gives help and advice on living cruelty-free.

Cruelty Cutter app

This is a useful app you can download. If you search for something and it’s not on the database, you can submit it, and they will check the details and then add it on.

Please note this article has been updated to reflect Charlotte Tilbury now being stocked in China, therefore no longer being a cruelty-free brand.

Struggling to navigate sunscreen? I hear you! Take a look at my latest article to get your vitamin D guilt-free 😍

Future predictor, Art director, Vagabond living in Sài Gòn

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