9 Skin Care and Makeup Brands That Are 100% Cruelty-Free

BY Jenn Sinrich · October 2, 2017

Drunk Elephant products on blue background with elephant 2

When it comes to choosing the right skin care and beauty products for you, several factors are put into consideration. Will it work with my skin type? Is it made without harmful ingredients? Will it make me break out? Is it safe, proven and effective? Is it worth the price tag? And the list goes on. But one equally important question that often falls off the map is whether or not a product is “cruelty-free,” or, in other words, tested on animals.

What Does “Cruelty-Free” Mean?

There’s a very real, unfortunate and ugly reason the umbrella term for this kind of testing involves the word “cruelty.” This is because the animals used during these tests—often rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and rats—are essentially being tortured and many die as a result of the testing (think, forcing them to eat shampoos and lotions and dripping it into their eyes to analyze the damage done to their body). In fact, Humane Society International estimates that as many as 200,000 animals suffer and die each year as a result of cosmetics testing around the world. It’s a barbaric aspect of the beauty world that the industry does its best to hide.

Currently, in the U.S., there is no law that forbids animal testing for products, however there’s also no law requiring this type of testing for companies to sell their products. So why do it? Other countries, for example, China, require animal testing, so if a U.S.-based company wants to sell to the expansive and lucrative Chinese market, they must have proof of animal testing.

So how do you tell whether or not a product is “cruelty-free”? It’s a bit more complicated than a simple label on packaging. For example, some companies will say they only conduct animal testing when required by law—which essentially means that if they choose to sell to a country that requires this testing, they’re willing to do so.

One of the easiest ways to tell a product lives up to its “cruelty-free” label is to buy vegan, however you can also search PETA’s database which includes over 2,700 companies that don’t test their products on animals. To get you started, here is a list of some of the beauty brands that are not only 100-percent cruelty-free, but are equally effective as their animal-testing competitors.

Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands

1. Tarte Cosmetics

Don’t let their addicting packaging and smart design distract you from the myriad of other amazing qualities possessed by this cosmetics company. Founded in 1999 by beauty guru Maureen Kelly, Tarte uses some of the finest natural ingredients, from Amazonian clay and maracuja oil, to create luxurious textures, tones and scents all without the use of harmful ingredients. Selling both skin care and cosmetics, you can feel good about your entire beauty regimen, ensuring that it’s top-notch quality and created without the use of animal testing.

Hot and New: Tarte Cosmetics Tarteist PRO Eyeshadow Palette

2. RMS Beauty

With RMS Beauty, you’re not only getting the assurance of using safe, certified organic ingredients, but you can also feel rest-assured that you’re using some of the highest quality ingredients around. Founded by Rose-Marie Swift, a makeup artist with over 35 years’ experience, RMS is also gluten-free, GMO-free, soy-free, nano-free, cruelty-free and just about every single other kind of “free” you’d hope for in products you’re using on the most sensitive areas of your body. Their careful cosmetics are packaged in recyclable glass with an aluminum lid (that’s also recyclable, of course!)—no plastic used ever.

Most Popular: RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up

3. 100 Percent Pure

Many innovative and life-altering products are found in California’s Napa and Silicon Valleys, but not too many beauty products can make this claim. 100% PURE® was born in a Napa Valley farmhouse back in 2005 and is now based in Silicon Valley in the same neighborhood that houses the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook. Just as their name suggests, the brand is 100 percent natural and free of all harmful toxins, including artificial colors and fragrances and synthetic chemical preservatives, and never tests its products on animals.

Bestseller: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara


4. Jane Iredale

Londoner Jane Iredale went from working in New York’s entertainment industry as a casting director who handled the careers of models and actresses in television and film, to an entrepreneur who launched one of the most successful beauty brands of her generation. While working with her clients, Iredale noticed the lack of long-wearing, quality and gentle products on the market and set out to not only create just that, but to do so for women and men of all ethnicities, nationalities and ages. “One thing we will never do is use animals in any of our testing. You can count on that!,” Iredale boasts on the brand’s site. In addition to their cruelty-free pledge, the company also carefully labels all of the vegan- and gluten-free ingredients used in their products so consumers can be in the know.

Bestseller: jane iredale Liquid Minerals A Foundation


Taking beauty conscious to the next level, W3LL PEOPLE’s founders are a total beauty dream team—elite makeup artist Shirley Pinkson, cosmetic dermatologist Reneé Snyder M.D, and self-proclaimed “tree-hugging entrepreneur” James Walker. The result? Passionate people creating premium quality cosmetics without the use of harmful artificial ingredients. Their approach to minimalist makeup does not bear any sacrifice on quality or effectiveness but guarantees a “no-makeup” look that offers just the right amount of coverage and, of course, is never tested on animals.

Try: W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara – Pro Black

Cruelty-Free Skin Care Brands

1. Drunk Elephant

There are many reasons this skin care brand is flying off the shelves of retailers all over the world; among them is its top-quality, harm-free ingredients that actually get to the bottom of your skin care concerns. The company’s founder, Tiffany Masterson, is not a qualified chemist but rather a beauty lover who was tired of putting unsafe and ineffective ingredients on her skin. Now she sells a collection of moisturizers, cleansers, serums, exfoliators, etc. that have attracted a cult-like and committed following who are not only happy with the brand’s formulations and skin-compatibility, but also with the fact that their products are not tested on animals, ever—elephants included!

Bestseller: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

2. Sunday Riley

Let’s face it: Certain skin care ingredients—retinol very much included—can be threatening. Even when used by some of the most trusted skincare brands in the world, you’re left wondering whether or not it will leave you flaky and red. Sunday Riley is a brand that’s trying to answer these questions for you, not only incorporating quality ingredients that are gentle on the skin but by placing information on its packaging that informs the user of exactly who the product is for (what skin type) and what you can expect from using it—all right on the packaging! Created by cosmetic chemist and product formulator Sunday Riley, you can expect these skin care products to work, and work well, for a reasonable price tag (especially given the ingredient list) and without the use of animal testing.

Bestseller: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment

3. Éminence

If you’re looking for a skin care brand that’s organic, all-natural, free of harsh chemicals and still capable of producing desired and dramatic results, look no further than Éminence. The brand hand-picks the herbs, vegetables, fruits and pure spring water it uses to create nourishing but powerful and rejuvenating products. The incredible fragrances used are 100-percent natural and are harvested right from their very own organic farm, so you can feel good about every ounce that you rub on and into your skin. The company is also proudly cruelty-free.

Most popular: Eminence Yam and Pumpkin Enzyme Peel

4. Luzern Laboratories

Using all-natural, BioSuisse ingredients, Luzern promises quality skin care products that deliver the clinically proven results without causing any harm to animals of any kind. The company’s been around for just over two decades, and was founded by two siblings, Jennifer Hebert-Coste and Ralph Hebert, whose environmentalist father raised them to question the kinds of ingredients used in their go-to skin care and beauty products. When they dug into the ingredient lists and came up short, they were inspired to develop their own safe product line that delivered uncompromising results without the use of harmful preservatives and additives or animal testing. From their creams to their serums, you can feel good about their dedication to beautiful and healthy skin care done right.

Try: Luzern Laboratories Force De Vie Pure Oxygen Creme Luxe

Jenn Sinrich

Jenn Sinrich is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist in NYC. Her work can be found in Women’s Health, SELF, Reader's Digest, Health, PureWow and more. When she's n... Read More >

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