What Does Cruelty-Free Mean and Why Should I Care?
If you take a look at your favorite mascara or foundation and turn it over do you see a little bunny on the back of the package? What does it mean whether it does or doesn’t have a little bunny logo? Well, a lot actually.
The cruelty-free movement dates back over 100 years. In 1898, an organization named the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) was founded by women’s activist, Frances Power Cobbe. The BUAV later joined forced with the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, creating what we know today as Cruelty-Free International.
Another company, known as the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CICC), began in 1996. The CICC was formed by eight major animal welfare organizations who advocate for a single, comprehensive standard as well as the widely renowned Leaping Bunny Logo. Both the CICC and Cruelty-Free International work together. CICC focuses on products within the United States and Canada, while Cruelty-Free International takes on the certification of international products. Both companies collaborate with businesses to make shopping for animal-friendly products more convenient and reliable.
You can find the work of both of these amazing organizations in the form of a “leaping bunny” on the back of household products, skincare products, and makeup products. The Cruelty-Free International Leaping Bunny is the world’s most famous symbol (and highest given standard) promoting cruelty-free cosmetics, personal care, and household items. The Leaping Bunny program certifies that hundreds of brands are not using animal testing in the formulation of products and provides and easy-to-use guide to help shoppers make more educated purchases.
One more renowned cruelty-free supporter is—to no surprise—PETA. PETA’s global cruelty-free program, Beauty Without Bunnies, began in 1987 and is still going strong today. It not only includes cosmetic brands, but also personal-care and household product brands as well. PETA’s searchable database now includes over 4,500 companies worldwide that do not perform, commission, pay for, or allow animal testing for any of their ingredients, formulations, or products.
While you’d think animal testing would be long gone by now, that’s far from true. According to Humane Society International, up to 500,000 animals are tested each year around the world, with the majority of these animals — over 375,000 in 2015 — utilized to meet test requirements in China alone.
Until we know that cosmetics animal testing is prohibited anyplace worldwide, ethical shoppers must continue to look for the Leaping Bunny or PETA bunny logos to verify that their cosmetics and toiletries are cruelty-free. We can put an end to animal testing and make the world a better place for animals if we all work together.
Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, here are 10 drugstore brands that are certified cruelty-free.
1. PYT Beauty
PYT Beauty is among the best “clean” brands at the drugstore. While the term “clean” is unregulated, it is overall important to avoid certain ingredients based on your personal skin concerns. The most common allergens in makeup fall under natural rubber, fragrances, dyes, and metals. Many times, “clean” beauty avoids these common irritants.
One of the best parts of PYT Beauty, much of their packaging is curbside recyclable! That’s huge considering that only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced can be recycled! If you click on any product on PYT Beauty’s website and then select the “How I’m Sustainable” tab under the price, it tells you how to recycle your product! Yes, I know I’m using a ton of exclamation points, but I truly love this brand for making recycling their packaging so freaking easy! I will say, PYT is a bit more on the pricier side of drugstore products, but if your budget allows it, do consider supporting this sustainable drugstore brand (they also offer a student discount program!).
Give their Faux Sun Bronzer Duo a try for a sun-kissed look or one of their perfectly curated (and fully recyclable) eyeshadow palettes. My favorite palette is the Warm Lit Nude, but they also have a Cool Crew Nude option for my cool-toned undertone gals and more!
2. W3LL PEOPLE
A close competitor to PYT Beauty (so close that you can find them on the same shelf at Target), W3ll people focuses on using beneficial ingredients in order to achieve a natural makeup look. In fact, it was founded by a makeup artist, dermatologist, and eco-conscious entrepreneur. That seems like a pretty good combination, if you ask me! A good selection of the brand’s products are also easily available at pretty much every Target and Ulta. In case you’re not from America, though, The Detox Market also has a wide array of W3ll People products that ship internationally!
Try their Expressionist Pro Mascara (an Allure favorite), Bio Correct Concealer (available in 20 shades), and Optimist Lipstick (also an Allure winner). I didn’t find that either of these mascaras flaked on me throughout the day. With regards to length, I have tiny lashes and the mascara actually showed up! It did seem to make my (barely there) lashes a little bit more voluminous and did not irritate my eyes at all!
Founded in 1996 by Brook Harvey-Taylor (Yay to female founders!), Pacifica has been creating 100% cruelty-free and vegan products for over 20 years; in fact, it was truly one of the firsts in the cruelty-free and vegan makeup world! The company offers a wide array of options in makeup such a cream blushes, mascara, and eyeshadow palettes, among other things. Their wide array of options makes it easy to find a new favorite product!
As if that wasn’t enough, Pacifica is also proudly partnered with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). The ACLU is a nonprofit organization fighting for immigrants, racial justice, reproductive rights, and so much more! On January 18, 2021, Pacifica donated 100% of their proceeds to the ACLU in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now that’s cool.
A favorite product of mine is their new Kind Tint Tinted Serum. The skin tint not only leaves your face looking fresh and dewy, but also contains skincare ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin c, and niacinamide for a brightening boost. Their Fluffy Blushy is also great, but keep in mind that every shade except Sunset has small flecks of glitter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it just might not be everyone’s preference!
As of 2015, Coty Inc.’s largest brand, Covergirl, has been certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny Program. This means that every Covergirl product, no matter where it is sold, is now Leaping Bunny approved. Yay! Now, you too can be, “easy, breezy, beautiful, Covergirl,” but with a cruelty-free twist.
Try their Clean Fresh Pressed Powder (available in eight skin-tone shades and one translucent option) for a lightweight, non-cakey finish to your makeup routine.
5. Burt’s Bees
Burt’s bees has been Leaping Bunny certified as of 2008 and are available at big box office stores (Target, Walmart, etc.), pharmacy chains (CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, etc.), and specialty beauty stores (Sephora, Ulta, Blue Mercury). Also, Burt’s Bee’s is partnered with TerraCycle, so when you’ve finished that tube (or multiple tubes, if you’re like me) of chapstick, you can go to their site and request a FREE printable shipping label. Then, all you have to do is package it up in a box or envelope of your choice and send it off! TerraCycle takes care of the rest!
You might know Burt’s Bees for their chapstick (now available in tinted formulations), but they also sell makeup staples like foundation, highlighter, and (my personal favorite from their products) blushes! Personally,
My Burt’s Bees Favs:
♥ Blush Makeup (my favorite shades are Bare Peach and Toasted Cinnamon)
♥ Color Nurture Cream Eyeshadow (my favorite shade for a bronzy look is Honey Caramel)
6. E.l.f. Cosmetics
No stranger to the makeup game, popular brand e.l.f. (standing for eyes, lips, face) is not only cruelty-free, but also 100% vegan! This means that none of their makeup or brushes are made with animal-derived ingredients. Along with being recognized as a part of the Leaping Bunny Program, e.l.f. is also recognized by PETA as a member of their Beauty Without Bunnies program since 2005. Additionally, e.l.f. also refuses to sell their products anywhere animal testing is required by law.
Some of my favorite makeup products from e.l.f. are their putty primers, putty bronzers, and powders. I do love their putty blushes, but it did take a little while to build up; this product is great for beginners who are starting out on using cream products and those who prefer more natural looking products. Overall, e.l.f. has so many options, you’re sure to find something that you love at an amazingly affordable price point!
7. NYX Cosmetics
NYX is no stranger to the spotlight and some of their recent product launches have been highlighted on social media platforms. I’ll admit, I will give credit where credit is due and NYX’s time in the spotlight is rightfully deserved. NYX is officially certified by animal rights organization PETA, which means that they do not test any ingredients on animals nor do they sell where animal testing is mandated by law. This is great considering they have some of the best affordable makeup at the drugstore.
NYX has, by far, some of the best quality items at a drugstore price. I will admit that I do find myself personally reaching for and re-purchasing their products thanks to their wide selection and affordability. A few of my personal favorites from NYX are the Lip Lingerie XXL, Butter Gloss, Bare With Me Serum Concealer, and Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil. Sadly, the Tinted Skin Veil was discontinued by NYX but if you have more melanated skin, you might still be in luck! NYX, Target, and Ulta are still carrying a couple deeper shades online. If you prefer fuller coverage, their Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation is amazing and very long lasting. This formula is matte, though, so keep that in mind. I have combo to oily skin, so I get shiny no matter what I try, but if you are on the drier side I’d recommend using a hydrating primer underneath. I’d suggest the Plump Right Back Primer + Serum over the Hydra Touch primer if you’re looking for hydration.
My NYX Favs:
♥ Plump Right Back Primer + Serum (AH-MAZING for dry skin!)
♥ Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick (My favorite shades are Candela Babe and Hot Caramelo)
♥ Sweet Cheeks Soft Cheek Tint (This is the longest lasting liquid blush I have found!)
♥ Micro Brow Pencil (Most precise brow pencil that I have used at the drugstore thus far)
♥ Slim Lip Pencil (only $4!)
8. Milani Cosmetics
Milani was founded in Los Angeles by former art teacher, Lauri Minc. She founded the brand with this one principle in mind: “Beauty is something that is alive, real, and should be accessible to everyone.” Milani began as a brand for multicultural consumers, dedicated to giving beauty to those who were frequently disregarded at the beauty counter; in fact, the brand was one of the first to feature diverse models in-store. Milani’s brand representative, Aminata Tall, explained that, “[They] are targeting the multicultural makeup enthusiast who believes diversity and beauty are intertwined.” Not only are they a great brand, but the company is also Leaping Bunny and PETA approved.
People have recently been going crazy for the new Milani Color Fetish Matte Lipsticks (would 100% recommend), but some of their lesser known–yet equally amazing–products are the Milani Baked Blush, Supercharged Dewy Primer, and Supercharged Brightening Undereye Tint.
9. Revolution Beauty
Based in the UK, Revolution Beauty is 100% cruelty-free and 100% fabulous. They are known for creating some incredible collaborations with influencers and known icons (Disney, anyone?). Revolution Beauty carries a wide range of makeup products from bold eyeshadow palettes to the staples of any good beauty routine.
If you’re looking for a good drugstore setting spray, be sure to check out their Superfix Misting Spray. Not only is the mister perfect, but I used this while wearing a full face of makeup under a mask and my makeup still looked amazing afterwards! I will admit, I have not tried a lot of their products (although I’ve been super tempted to buy the palettes!), but the two below are ones that I can confidently recommend.
My Revolution Beauty Favs:
10. Pixi Beauty
Pixi was founded by Swedish-born makeup artist Petra Strand. Originally, the brand began in London, but is now based in Los Angeles, CA. According to Strand, her brand has always focused on natural, botanical-based cosmetic products that aren’t tested on animals, come in attractive packaging, and are reasonably priced, she says.
For that effortless glowy skin look, try Pixi’s H2O Skin Tint available in 18 different shades. Finish off your look with their Endless Shade Stick or Liquid Fairy Lights on the lids and On-the-Glow Blush on the cheeks for a dewy, minimal effort, makeup vibe.
My Pixi Beauty Favs:
♥ On-the-Glow Blush (Sheer, dewy finish for those no-makeup makeup days!)