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5 Best Cruelty-Free Mascaras
Essential Takeaways
There are a growing number of brands that have found clever alternatives to animal ingredients and testing and instead pack their products with vitamins and natural oils to nourish your lashes. They can perform equally well as traditional products and you’ll feel better about using them, too.

5 Best Cruelty-Free Mascaras

With all that we’ve come to learn about the ingredients and processes that go into beauty products, you’d think that cruelty-free and vegan would be standards for all companies—and not just a bonus. But that’s not the case just yet, which is why Kinder Beauty is on a mission to make it so. Along the way, we want to make it easy for you to discover and shop for products that are cruelty-free, vegan, and non-toxic.

Shop Clean, Vegan Makeup Products

Even if you’re a conscious consumer, we know that finding a mascara you love can sometimes be a struggle. In addition to figuring out which product fits the characteristics you need, like lengthening or volumizing (or both), you also have to sort out which brands and products meet today’s increasingly ethical and clean standards.

Luckily, the vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics category is booming, so if you’re in the process of cleaning up your beauty cabinet to include cruelty-free products, your mascara is a great place to start. It’s quite possible that some of your favorite brands are already making sure that their products don’t harm our furry friends along the value chain.

Close up of a woman's blue eye applying cruelty-free mascara

What does cruelty-free mean?

We can all agree that animals shouldn’t suffer for beauty products, and that’s why it’s so important to be able to distinguish between the brands that care about animals and consumers’ increasing demand for ethical options, and those that don’t. Unfortunately, many major brands still test on animals and should be avoided. Animal testing is an ugly truth in the beauty industry, and when a brand performs cruel experiments on small animals, it means it isn’t cruelty-free. Ironically, while the beauty industry is driven to help people look and feel their best, it also hurts helpless animals along the way.

Many mascara formulas are also not vegan, meaning they contain animal-derived ingredients or byproducts. These ingredients are equally unnecessary. Animal ingredients in mascara include common ingredients such as shellac (from lac beetles), beeswax (from honeybees), and lanolin (from sheep).

In addition to helping animals, we want to ensure you find brands that also prioritize clean ingredients, which means finding alternatives to common toxins found in beauty products that may harm you in the long run (here are 16 you'll want to avoid at all cost).

Luckily, there are a growing number of brands that have found clever alternatives to animal ingredients and testing and instead pack their products with vitamins and natural oils to nourish your lashes. They can perform equally well as traditional products and you’ll feel better about using them, too. But instead of just settling on the first mascara you find that says it’s vegan and cruelty-free, let’s dive into the products that top our must-have list.

What is the best vegan mascara?

If you’re looking for vegan and cruelty-free mascara, there’s no need to look any further. Keep reading to find a feel-good mascara that meets all your needs.

Close up of a cruelty-free mascara wand and pink bottle

Best drugstore find:

CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara

CoverGirl is a cult-classic brand, but it’s only been in recent years that the company has progressed to offer some vegan and cruelty-free products—including becoming certified cruelty-free by Cruelty-Free International, which means you’ll now find the Leaping Bunny logo on the CoverGirl label. The brand’s vegan offerings include the Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara, which offers volume and length with a clean formula that is free of parabens, sulfates, talc, and mineral oil.

Best volumizing:

Milk Makeup KUSH Mascara

This award-winning mascara is intense, ultra-black, and free from cruelty and animal ingredients. It also doesn’t use chemicals that are bad for your health, including parabens, silicone, alcohol, fragrance, and coal tar. Instead, it’s made with conditioning hemp seed oil, which promotes softer, healthier-looking lashes and prevents breakage. Plus, in a consumer study commissioned by the brand, more than 90 percent of customers who have used the product agree that the product lifts lashes, making them thicker, longer, and more voluminous.

Best lengthening:

ELF Waterproof Lengthening and Volumizing Mascara

This quick-drying formula allows you to build up your lashes with multiple applications to create thicker-looking, longer lashes. And this waterproof, clump-free, lengthening formula doesn’t come with any nasties like phthalates, parabens, and triclosan. Also critical to a good mascara is the brush, and this ergonomic one helps with defining and separating so you can easily coat each lash without fuss—and we love that.

Best for curling:

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

Tarte’s best-selling mascara is our go-to for multiple reasons. Not only does it offer lengthening and volumizing effects, but it also provides curling powers that lift the eyes and help them appear bigger—and some of us straight-lash babes know how amazing a little lift can be. Better still, it also conditions your lashes with olive oil esters, rice bran wax, and provitamin B5, all while leaving out toxins like parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.

Best budget-friendly:

Pacifica Big Dream Lash Extending 7-in-1 Mascara

This budget-friendly and widely available option covers all the bases. Uniquely, its dual brush twists to make it shorter or longer, allowing you to lengthen with the long end and volumize when it’s set to the shorter end. Plus, this mascara is formulated with vitamin B, kelp, and coconut to help hydrate and strengthen your lashes—while leaving out carmine, phthalates, petrolatum, and silicone.

Shop Cruelty-free, Vegan Beauty Products

Nicole Axworthy is a Toronto-based writer and author of the vegan cookbook DIY Vegan.

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5 products from top ethical and clean beauty brands
A mix of both full-sized and travel-sized items
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