Unfortunately, many cosmetics and other household products contribute to the suffering of animals every day, thanks to practices like animal testing.
Makeup has long been tested on animals before being sold to consumers, but people are increasingly conscious of animal welfare and increasing numbers are no longer willing to accept products that have caused the suffering and deaths of innocent creatures in the name of beauty.
Both conventional and natural brands are starting to avoid testing on animals, so a huge range of cruelty-free mascaras are now available on the market.
Choose conventional mascaras to achieve a dramatic appearance, or a natural one if you would prefer to stay away from harsh ingredients.
Let’s take a look at some of the best mascaras that advertise as cruelty-free in the UK.
Best Cruelty-Free Mascaras in the UK
1. Poppy Austin Argan Oil Mascara
Poppy Austin is a brand that deals more in natural skincare, but the one makeup product they sell (so far) is their Argan Oil Mascara.
Designed to lengthen and thicken the appearance of lashes, this 100% natural mascara also nourishes them as you wear it.
Many natural mascaras are prone to smudging or simply wearing off during the day, but this formula is designed to provide 24-hour coverage, staying resistant to smudging, smears and flaking.
It’s also pH-balanced to avoid eye irritation.
The Poppy Austin brand is focused on organic argan oil, and unsurprisingly that is one of the major ingredients in this mascara.
Not only does this oil moisturise the eyelashes, it is known to promote hair growth; in fact, does such a good job that it’s even recommended for holding back male pattern baldness!
Conventional mascaras are certainly more effective than natural ones at enhancing the appearance of your eyelashes in the short term, but they do a lot of damage in the long-term.
This argan oil mascara not only give you a short-term boost but can actually help your lashes grow out naturally!
Poppy Austin says this mascara is both cruelty-free and vegan.
Their products are also free from parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan.
This mascara comes with a mid to high-end price, but the company offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all purchases.
2. Green People Volumising Mascara
Green People is the ultimate organic lifestyle brand, dealing in products from skincare and haircare to dental health.
They have a makeup range that is small but high quality, including the Green People Volumising Mascara.
It’s made from 98% natural ingredients, including 15.4% organic ingredients that are gentle on sensitive eyes and should not cause irritation, redness or itching.
Key ingredients include vitamin E, sunflower oil and beeswax that condition the lashes and nourish the roots.
The natural waxes are resistant to water and generally have good staying power without smudging.
Many conventional volumising mascaras contain tiny plastic fibres or microbeads to make your lashes look thicker.
Not only does this suffocate the lashes, it is terrible for the environment as these tiny pieces of plastic make their way into the ocean and the food chain.
Instead, Green People uses natural cellulose microspheres to make this a truly volumising and lengthening mascara while remaining eco-friendly. It is available in two colours, black and a brown/black mix.
Green People has been around for 20 years, working at the cutting edge of natural beauty and refining their formulations to provide a truly natural yet effective product line at a relatively affordable price range.
Their products are Soil Association certified organic and ECOCERT natural.
While this mascara is certified cruelty-free as certified by PETA, it is not vegan as it contains beeswax.
3. HeyBeauty Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara
The HeyBeauty Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara provides a dramatic smokey eye effect that you simply can’t get with natural mascaras.
It’s a waterproof formula that lengthens the appearance of the lashes and volumises to 5 times your natural lash thickness.
This 4D mascara is very similar to L’Oreal’s Lash Architect 4D Mascara but at a more affordable price.
The 4D effect is designed to provide enhanced volume, length, texture and curl, which it achieves with the inclusion of tiny fibres that give a ‘false lash’ look. The formula is also waterproof, a feature that cannot be achieved with natural ingredients.
HeyBeauty is not an established makeup brand, but rather a company that sells a range of different products through Amazon, including beauty but also others such as electronics and kitchenware.
It seems likely that it purchases products from other manufacturers and distributes them under the HeyBeauty business name. As such, many of the claims made by the brand cannot be verified, including their claims to be cruelty-free and all natural.
Compared to other conventional mascaras, this one has a nice texture and provides a good amount of length and volume.
It’s also mild compared to many alternatives and generally does not irritate the eyes.
4. Dizao Organics 95% Organic Moisturizing Black Mascara
The Dizao 95% Organic Moisturizing Black Mascara is made with completely natural ingredients and, as the name would suggest, a majority of organic ingredients, as certified by the USDA.
It does not contain any artificial colours, preservatives, or fragrances and even the pigment comes from coffee powder for a soft brownish black look.
This mascara provides a nice lengthening effect while keeping a subtle and natural appearance. It doesn’t clump easily, but it can be prone to smudging.
Coffee can also promote hair growth as the caffeine stimulates circulation to the area, making this a good choice for people with naturally short or fine lashes that would prefer to lengthen them naturally rather than smother them in harsh conventional mascaras.
As well as coffee, this mascara contains carnauba wax from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree, which gives the lashes a glossy finish, lifting and curling them.
Dizao specialises in carnauba wax, an ingredient with hypoallergenic and emmolient properties; on the other hand, this mascara also contains shellac, an ingredient made from beetle excretions that can irritate the skin.
This mascara is best used by people who are looking for a natural product and could benefit from some extra conditioning, without having extremely sensitive eyes.
While Dizao does claim to be cruelty-free, this product is definitely not vegan, containing both beeswax and shellac.
Dizao products do not contain GMOs, parabens, silicone, synthetic perfumes, toxins or artificial colorants, and the products are manufactured in the U.S.A.
Top Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands in the UK
People are starting to become more aware of the products they put on their skin and the ethical dilemmas that conventional cosmetics can present.
Animal welfare hasn’t always been a priority in the beauty industry, but consumers are starting to change this by choosing cruelty-free makeup and skincare.
“Cruelty-free” is a term seen more and more often these days, but what does it really mean?
To be considered cruelty-free, makeup cannot have been tested on animals or contain any ingredients that have been tested on animals.
However, laws don’t typically define the label “cruelty-fee” and so companies can use the term in a misleading way, particularly if you are buying products from overseas, including the US.
A good way to make sure you’re getting truly cruelty-free products is to look out for certifications including the PETA cruelty-free bunny, which requires companies to sign a written pledge not to engage in any practice that could be harmful to animals, like selling in countries that legally require animal testing, such as China.
Another prominent certification is the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) “Leaping Bunny.”
Cruelty-free labels refer purely to animal testing and don’t necessarily imply that a product is vegan or doesn’t contain any animal substances.
In 2009, the EU banned the testing of cosmetics on animals and in 2013 it extended the ban to include the sale of cosmetics tested on animals anywhere in the world.
There are limitations to these laws, however. For example, the ban only applies to ingredients that are exclusively used in cosmetics.
Cruelty-free products are increasingly making into a mainstream and everyone has different standards when it comes to want they want to apply to their skin.
In our list of the top cruelty-free makeup options, we’ve included 5 all-natural brands, followed by 5 conventional brands, so that you can make a truly informed choice on what options are out there today.
When it comes to cruelty-free makeup there are plenty of options, from simple and natural formulas, to the most high-end of mainstream brands.
In Europe, all options should at least be free from the most flagrantly unnecessary animal testing, but this list should be able to help you get a little further insight into what companies offer a truly cruelty-free range.
Benecos is an affordable natural brand that offers makeup and grooming lines.
A German family business, Benecos has become one of the most widely available and budget-friendly natural makeup brands around while still maintain a high-quality product.
“We focus on high-grade contents in simple packaging, and this enables us to offer our products to customers at much lower prices,” says Stephan Becker who founded the company with his wife Silke.
This approach to the business has made it one f the more easily accessible natural makeup brands in Europe, and it can be found in a wide range of health food shops around the UK.
Benecos products are free toxins such as from paraffin, parabens, silicones, PEG, synthetic colour, synthetic fragrance & synthetic preservatives.
Excluding their nail polish, all of the brand’s products are certified organic according to standards set the BDIH – the German non-profit Association of Industries and Trading Firms for pharmaceuticals, health care products, food supplements and personal hygiene products.
While Benecos nail polish is not organic, it is free from harsh ingredients found in most conventional nail polish.
Benecos is a cruelty-free brand as certified by PETA and over 72% of their products are vegan – just be sure to check the ingredients list if you are looking for exclusively vegan items.
Another German company, Lavera is fairly similar to Benecos.
It is an affordable option that offers a range of high quality, relatively mild and natural toiletries and cosmetics.
Lavera has been going for 25 years and offers over 300 products, all of which are designed to be gentle on the skin and free from synthetic preservatives, colours and fragrances.
Where possible they use organic ingredients and are certified by NaTrue, a Brussels-based non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting natural and organic cosmetics worldwide.
Lavera make-up is gluten free, cruelty-free and may of the products are vegan. The range is manufactured in Germany.
Lavera was one of the first brands on the natural beauty scene and after a quarter of a century in business, they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their range.
The brand has been endorsed by celebrity make-up artist Lisa Eldridge and the company has received awards from OekoTest Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Elle Magazine, Gorgeously Green, the Green Beauty Bible Awards and so on.
Their products can be found at various health food shops across the UK, as well as online shops.
100% Pure has become cult favourite in the natural beauty world, largely because of its trademark fruit-pigmented makeup and antioxidant-rich products.
The brand has expanded to include cosmetics, skincare, hair and bodycare. Their gel face masks are also a fan favourite.
100% Pure products are free from artificial colours, artificial fragrances and synthetic chemical preservatives, as well as other common nasties.
It has been certified by the CCIC Leaping Bunny program the PETA cruelty-free bunny.
In 2013, it received PETA’s Courage in Commerce Award for its commitment to taking a stand against animal testing. 100% Pure isn’t a completely vegan company, as a few of their products contain honey or beeswax, however they have announced that they are working toward a fully vegan range.
For a list of 100% Pure’s vegan products, check out this list.
Inika is an Australian brand that has become a firm favourite around the world, and is available in most independent UK health food shops.
Inika specialises in mineral makeup, which the company has worked to perfect, although they are also loved for their lipsticks.
It is a completely vegan and cruelty-free brand, with a range of certifications from the UK Vegan Society, PETA, the CCIC Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free Australia.
It’s a natural brand that uses organic ingredients and is accredited by Organic Food Chain Australia; some products are certified by Organic Cosmetic Italy.
Inika makeup is gluten and lactose free, and does not contain many of the toxic chemicals or fillers found in conventional makeup.
Pacifica is a 100% vegan and cruelty-free brand that sells cosmetics, skincare, haircare and fragrance products.
For a natural makeup brand, Pacifica has an excellent, professional and innovative range that includes more glamorous options than many other mineral makeup lines.
They also have a large range of product types, including some that are difficult to find in natural beauty, such as a water-resistant mascara.
Pacifica is also a gluten-free brand and is formulated without many of the nasty ingredients found in conventional cosmetics, such as parabens, sulphates, petroleum and so on.
It is also certified by PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program.
This is a mid range, reasonably priced brand that is widely available in the US, but can also be found in the UK at health food shops including Holland & Barrett, as well as naturisimo.com.
Urban Decay is a mainstream brand that specialises in fashion makeup, offering looks that natural brands simply can’t achieve. Urban Decay is the ultimate in urban cool, with looks that are all about drama, while still suitable for day looks.
This brand is particularly known for their setting sprays, concealers and eyeshadow palettes.
Their “Naked” eyeshadow palette was a true original that has been copied many times over, and extended into a line of possible the most hyped makeup products in recent memory.
A hugely versatile range offers everything you need for a natural look, all the way to a theatrical look with glitter galore. The line is available at Sephora.
Urban Decay has become a major company marketed as a mainstream, trendy brand that is also cruelty-free.
It was approved in 2009 by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics and certified by PETA, which also awarded them the fifth annual award for their Best Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Line.
There was some drama in 2012 when Urban Decay announced that it would start selling its products in China, a country which enforces mandatory animal testing on all cosmetics, however the company soon went in another direction and decided not to sell in China after all.
The brand is now certified as cruelty-free by PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program (CCIC). They are not a vegan line, but offer some vegan products that can be identified with a purple paw symbol.
Although Urban Decay products themselves may be cruelty-free, be mindful that the company is currently a subsidiary of L’Oreal, which is not a cruelty-free company.
L’Oreal is one of the most recognised names in cosmetics, and it does sell products is China. Although they have pledged not to test their finished products on animals outside of China, they may also use raw materials tested on animals.
Too Faced burst onto the scene in 1993 and quickly became one of the most popular make up brands around. It is now sold in 30 countries and offers a range of incredibly fun, cute and girlie products.
Too Faced don’t test any of their products on animals, and they also have a large list of vegan products that can be found on their website.
Although this is by no means a natural brand, they do offer a range of paraben-free items, too.
From foundation and concealer to lipsticks, mascara and a range of eyeshadow palettes, Too Faced have a huge range of products and many are firm favourites that have developed a cult following. This is another Sephora brand.
Too Faced have been certified by PETA’s Cruelty Without Bunnies program since 2001, and according to PETA, the company has pledged not to enter any market that mandates animal testing on products, such as China.
Although Too Faced itself is a cruelty-free brand, like Urban Decay, it is owned by a parent company that isn’t.
Too Faced is owned By Estee Lauder, a company that does allow testing on animals. Estée Lauder is a major player in the beauty industry and several of its subsidiaries, including its eponymous brand, are not cruelty-free. According to Estée Lauder, “Our products are not tested on animals except when absolutely mandated by law,” though they do sell in markets that require animal testing. A list of Estée Lauder brands and their cruelty-free status can be found here.
Do brands like Urban Decay and Too Faced really count as cruelty-free? We included them in our list because they are two of the most prominent products on the market that are labelled as such today.
According to PETA, “It’s important to support cruelty-free companies such as Urban Decay and The Body Shop — both owned by L’Oréal — as well as Too Faced Cosmetics, because if their parent companies see that kind and compassionate cosmetics are popular, it may lead to a decision to reject testing on animals permanently.”
On the other hand, many people feel that this merely contributes to the profits of a parent company that engages in animal testing.
Everyone has a different ethical standard and whether you feel comfortable supporting these brands is an individual decision that you will have to make for yourself.
If you visit the Illasmasqua website, some of the first things you’ll see are big slogans saying thing like , “Cruelty Free Beauty,” “Illamasqua is against animal testing,” a PETA logo and so on.
This is a brand that sells itself on its cruelty-free credential, and is certified as such. While the line isn’t fully vegan, they offer over 100 vegan formulas and brushes, which can be seen here on their website.
This British brand was launched by Yorkshire native Julian Kynaston in 2008, despite his complete lack of experience in the makeup industry.
Thanks to contributions from makeup artist Arnold Langer, Illasmasqua has earned a strong reputation and an edgy, theatrical image.
Illasmasqua is famous for its highlighters and long-lasting matte lipsticks, as is widely available across U.K. department stores, including Debenhams.
Anastasia Beverly Hills
This is a high end brand with a true celebrity image, created by make-up artist to the stars, Anastasia Soare. Anastasia has worked on celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, as well TV shows like America’s Next Top Model.
Her looks have also been features in fashion magazines Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle and so on. Her credentials are endless, so what does her makeup line have to offer?
Known as the “Queen of Eyebrows,” the brand’s signature line is of course based on brow products, but they also offer a large range of cosmetics to cover all your bases. The range is carried by Sephora, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty in the UK.
Anastasia Beverly Hills is not a vegan brand, as some formulas include beeswax or honey, although many of their bestsellers are vegan – simply check the ingredients list, or check out this list of their vegan products.
The brand is 100% cruelty-free and certified by PETA.
Kat Von D
Kat Von D is a tattoo artist, TV star and model who launched a makeup brand that fits in with her signature gothic look.
Launched though Sephora in 2008, her makeup brand is relatively new but her celebrity status and visual style made it an instant hit.
The brand’s signature product is probably their waterproof liquid “tattoo” eyeliner, but they sell a full cosmetics range that encompasses everything from foundation to eyeshadow to lipstick, and everything in-between.
The brand definitely caters to a more creative or gothic makeup style, with a wide range of bold colours, but they also offer everything you need for a more natural or understated look. As well as makeup, they sell brushes and perfumes.
Kat Von D is an advocate for the vegan lifestyle and in 2016 she announced that all her products would be reformulated to exclude animal products.
As of now, the company has not achieved a completely vegan range, but vegan items are marked with the label “#VeganAlert” for easy identification. No Kat Von D cosmetics are tested on animals.
The brand teamed up with charities that work with animals, showcasing them through different shades of her liquid lipstick.
Her Farm Sanctuary Everlasting Liquid Lipstick promotes Farm Sanctuary, an organization that houses animal victims of industrial farming, while another shade contributes to Project Chimps, a charity that works to retire chimpanzees that were used in biomedical research.
Choosing a Cruelty-Free Mascara
The term “cruelty free” means different things to different people, and everyone has their own individual standards.
A vegetarian may see a product that contains beeswax as perfectly acceptable, while a vegan may disagree; when choosing makeup or any other household item, it’s best to think about what your own individual standards are before buying.
Brands make their decisions based on consumer choices and animal testing will only become a thing of the past if you choose to spend your hard-earned money on products that meet your cruelty-free requirements, whatever those are for you.
How to Check that Mascara is Really Cruelty Free
Cruelty-free makeup is becoming popular, and as brands catch on, many are advertising themselves this way.
It’s important for consumers to stay vigilant however, as many brands cannot back up this claim.
One good way to check a product’s credentials is to check for cruelty-free certification. Several organisations provide documentation for this, each covering different guidelines and regions.
While there is no specifically UK-based certification, you can always check the CCIC and BUAV international certifications, identifiable by the Leaping Bunny logo.
PETA and CCF (Choose Cruelty Free) also have bunny logos for certified products, based in the U.S. and Australia respectively. Fake bunnies are out there, so take the time to familiarise yourself with each logo and the organizations that hand them out.
Also be aware that “cruelty-free” does not always equal vegan, so any vegans should take extra care to check ingredients lists for animal products like dairy, honey or beeswax.
Brands may be working towards a certification or simply consider it unnecessary, even though they do not test on animals.
The best way to make sure that you choose a truly cruelty-free product is to research any brand you use to make sure that their ethical claims are trustworthy.