In the past, living a vegan lifestyle meant you were limited to that one health food store that smelled like peas. Thankfully, things have changed. You can get tasty vegan meals delivered right to your door and find plenty of vegan makeup options at your local Sephora.
But first, how do you define vegan makeup?
The simplest definition is that the product is free of animal-derived ingredients and animal by-products (like milk, honey, beeswax, carmine or lanolin).
Another term you may come across while shopping is “cruelty-free,” which is often lumped in with “vegan” products but doesn’t mean the same thing. If a product is labeled “cruelty-free,” that just means it hasn’t been tested on animals.
And here’s where it gets a bit confusing: A product can be vegan and still have been tested on animals. Likewise, a cruelty-free product can contain animal ingredients. If you want to make sure that a product is both vegan and cruelty-free, you’ll have to scan the label carefully.
Is the Sephora collection cruelty-free?
When it comes to the retailer’s own brand, its official stance is that Sephora doesn’t test its products on animals and “will not ask others to do so on [their] behalf, unless it’s required by law in specific countries where [they] operate.” And while the company advocates “for the development and implementation of alternative methods,” it doesn’t enforce these methods.
In short, no, the Sephora collection is not currently cruelty-free (though they may offer some vegan products within the line).
Does having a “Clean at Sephora” seal mean those products are also vegan?
You’ve likely seen the green “Clean at Sephora” stamp on products throughout Sephora stores and on its website over the last few years. The seal certifies that the product is free of sulfates (SLS and SLES), parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mercury compounds, animal fats and more than 50 harmful ingredients on Sephora’s “formulated without list,” which is continually updated as new information is made available.
Per the brand: “’Formulated without’ does not guarantee ‘100 percent free from’ since trace contaminants are possible. It is not the intention of Clean at Sephora to test for trace contaminants or guarantee 100 percent free-from, but we encourage our brands to engage in thorough contaminant testing of raw materials and final formulas.”
Are Sephora cosmetics vegan?
The mega retailer is home to a surprising number of cruelty-free and vegan makeup brands, which is handy since there’s a Sephora in virtually every city and suburb these days. Still, it can be overwhelming to parse through the options, so keep an eye out for the “vegan” seal or check out the vegan section of their website. Or you can shop 10 pre-vetted products ahead.
Anastasia Beverly Hills is arguably one of the biggest beauty brands to emerge from the last two decades. (And in fact, with over 19 million fans on Instagram alone, its following is still one of the largest to date.) Though the brand itself is not entirely vegan, it does have a number of vegan products within the line. Our favorite? The brow freeze wax, because it gives you a nicely feathered arch that stays in place all day.
Since its launch in 2016, Milk Makeup has focused on keeping its ingredients as clean as possible. In addition to leaving out the usual suspects (i.e., parabens, sulfates, SLS, SLES, formaldehyde, mineral oil and talc), it’s also 100% vegan and cruelty-free. The trendsetting brand is known for its innovative textures and packaging and its new liquid blush is no exception. Infused with hyaluronic acid and mushroom extracts, it gives your cheeks a soft flush of color that can easily be sheered out or built up as needed.
Selena Gomez’s beloved line is cruelty-free and vegan and certified by PETA’s “Beauty Without Bunnies” program. Also of note: The outer packaging is made from FSC-certified recyclable materials and printed with water-based ink. We’re fans of the lip souffle, which is a matte lipstick that has a whipped texture that doesn’t feel drying on and a satisfying color payoff.
If you want to streamline your makeup bag, look no further than Merit Beauty. The brand is newer to the scene than the others on this list, but it’s already earned a permanent spot in our routine thanks to the ease of use of all its products—especially the tinted lip oil, which we never get tired of applying. Rest assured, everything in the line is vegan and cruelty-free, and certified by Leaping Bunny.
As of writing, Too Faced’s “Better Than Sex” mascara is the number-one selling prestige mascara in America and the number-one cruelty-free prestige mascara. It’s also one of the top vegan offerings in the expansive line (along with its “Born This Way” Foundation and Super Coverage Concealer).
It’s no secret that we love Kosas here. The clean beauty brand has had a steady slew of hits—from their tinted face oil foundation to brow gel—and while it’s not 100 percent vegan, it’s cruelty-free and has some standout vegan options, like the creamy concealer (which we’ve relied on heavily this past year before Zoom calls).
With a tagline that proudly states, “makeup made with love, not animals,” KVD is and has been a leading vegan beauty brand since its inception back in 2008. The brand is also a TikTok favorite, repeatedly selling out of their Good Apple Skin-Perfecting Foundation Balm this year. As one of our editors raves: “The application process is *chef’s kiss*. The second I applied the foundation, it left my skin with a soft, matte finish. I only had to glide my brush across the product about three times to completely cover my face.”
Not so fun fact: Many lipsticks on the market have carmine in them, which is a red pigment that’s made from crushed insects. Hourglass created a special-edition lipstick that uses Red 0, an alternative to carmine, that’s 100-percent vegan and insect-free. Better yet, the color itself is a true red that instantly brightens up your face and the texture is rich and non-drying.
Founded by Tiila Abbitt in 2018 (who was previously the lead R+D for sustainable materials at Sephora, while also serving on the sustainability leadership council for the retailer), the brand is as sustainability minded as it is ingredient conscious. Known for creating the first zero-waste eye shadow palette, it also identifies as a cruelty-free and vegan brand that is both Leaping Bunny Approved and PETA Certified.
Tarte Cosmetics is cruelty-free but not 100 percent vegan. As stated on its website: “Many of our products are vegan—just search for the vegan logo on the product image! Or shop the full list of our vegan makeup & skincare here.” (Lucky for us, the iconic Shape Tape concealer and the Hydroflex serum foundation are included in that list.)
PureWow may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from PureWow’s editorial and sales departments.