14 Of The Best Vegan, Cruelty-Free Lipsticks Around
There are those who believe that you’re never fully dressed without lipstick.
There is just something about the perfectly shaded lippie that can make, break, or completely change the tone of the day. Going for boss babe? Sport a bright red. Feeling subtle and refined? Grab the blush. Planning a fun and flirty date? Opt for a pop of purple or orange.
But for those of us who care about animals, finding cosmetics that don’t include cruelty can be a daunting task.
The cosmetics industry has come under fire in recent years for animal-derived ingredients and cruel testing practices, but luckily the tides are turning. Now cruelty-free lipstick comes in every shade and color imaginable—so you’re really not going to be limited by ethical concerns.
So you can ditch the cruelty and indulge in your favorite lipsticks! Hoorah!
Is all lipstick vegan?
Sadly, no. For decades—strike that—centuries, animal-derived ingredients have been used in most cosmetic products including lipstick. One of the first documented lipstick wearers was the famed Cleopatra herself; even back then, ingredients like crushed bugs were common.
But it certainly doesn’t need to be like that anymore!
Are all vegan lipsticks cruelty-free?
There tends to be confusion surrounding the terms “vegan” and “cruelty-free.” When it comes to beauty products the terms are often used together, and often interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
A cruelty-free logo on lipstick and other cosmetics means that the product in question was not tested on animals during its development. Vegan, on the other hand, means that the product was not made with any animal-derived ingredients.
As you can see, while they mean different things, these terms both represent important concepts. At Kinder Beauty, we think opting for a product that is both cruelty-free and vegan is best. Labels such as Vegan and Certified Cruelty-free are often used but also look for the Peta stamp of approval or the Vegan Society logo when shopping, since these labels denote products that are both cruelty-free and vegan.
We like to consider products that are both vegan and cruelty-free to be truly cruelty-free—and that’s why we only sell products that are both of these things.
Non-vegan ingredients used in lipstick
If you’re perusing lipsticks either online or in stores, be sure to watch out for the following ingredients, since these are all derived from animals:
- Carmine, or cochineal, is a red dye that is made from crushed insects. It is very often used in cosmetics such as lipsticks, blush, and eyeshadow to achieve a deep red color.
- While at first glance it may not seem like beeswax is unethical, the sad truth is that harvesting the stuff is very harmful to the poor bees. These industrious insects make their food—honey—by collecting nectar from flowers, and they make little wax containers to store honey and shelter their young. You don’t want to put bees out of a house and home, do you?!
- Lanolin is used in beauty products because it closely resembles the sebum found in human skin and is highly moisturizing. But it is a byproduct of the wool industry since it is gathered off the wool of sheep. The greasy substance helps sheep stay warm and dry.
- Squalane is a common beauty ingredient and can be sourced from shark liver. Used in cosmetics for its moisturizing and restorative properties, squalane also helps creams and lotions to be better absorbed by the skin.
- Palm oil is the world’s leading vegetable oil and, sadly, due to its demand more than 14 million hectares of land have been deforested to make way for palm oil plantations, and that number is only rising. So, while it is not derived directly from animals many vegans choose to avoid palm oil in products as it is a huge culprit of habitat loss for wildlife, especially orangutans and Sumatran tigers.
Vegan lipstick ingredients
Luckily, with over 300,000 different plant species across the globe, there are plenty of vegan ingredient options to look for in beauty products to replace those that are made from or are harmful to animals. For a solid dose of natural antioxidants, opt for products containing avocado oil, marula oil, or vitamin E. For extra moisture, look for shea butter, almond oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil.
What’s the difference between liquid and regular lipstick?
While you are likely familiar with regular solid lipstick, liquid lipstick is the new kid on the block and is becoming pretty popular. So, what’s the difference? One of the biggest things that draw people to liquid lipstick is that it is high pigmentation, meaning the colors are bolder and tend to be opaque. There’s also is no need for a lip liner for liquid lipsticks and they tend to last a bit longer.
But, don’t go switching so fast—that classic solid lipstick still has some bonuses! One of the biggest is that it is easier to apply. It can take a minute to get used to the art of applying a liquid lipstick and it is definitely harder to apply when you are on the go. Solid lipsticks are also better are keeping your lips hydrated and are easier to wipe off at the end of the night.
The best cruelty-free lipsticks
Au Naturale is all-natural (surprise surprise, right?). These lipsticks are free of gluten, parabens, fillers, synthetic preservatives, and toxins. Oh, and all shades are vegan, too!
The line was started by nuclear analyst Ashley Prange, who left her job to solve one of her biggest problems: chemical-filled cosmetics that caused her chronic breakouts and irritation. She set out to create a bold, long-lasting color cosmetics range without harmful chemicals—and lucky for us, Au Naturale was born.
All of Axiology’s products are cruelty-free and vegan. Its luscious lipsticks are smooth and creamy and come in bold colors. They are loaded with vitamin E and avocado butter for ample hydration to keep your lips smooth and plump all day long. With over 30 shades, from subtle nudes to daring reds, there is something for everyone.
What’s even better is this incredible company takes back used lipstick tubes to recycle them and keep them out of landfills.
Be Kind Beauty is entirely cruelty-free. Its organic lipstick is paraben- and palm oil-free as well as vegan. The unique formula is crafted from pure minerals and botanicals, making it a wonderfully clean option too. The creamy product is long-lasting and provides sumptuous hydration to combat chapped lips. The Adorn Classic Mineral line has seven shades to choose from and the Organic Adorn Style Icon has five options.
ColorPop was a winner of the 2018 Glamour Beauty Awards and it is clear to see why. Featuring bold pigment for the perfect pout, these shades are extremely lightweight. The long-lasting formula glides on smoothly and dries to a wonderful matte look. All of the over 50 shades to choose from are cruelty-free and vegan, as are the lip stain, lip gloss, and lip pencils.
What’s not to love about cruelty-free makeup brand e.l.f.? The affordable vegan brand can be found everywhere from Target to Ulta and its popular Moisturizing Lipsticks are uber-affordable, coming in at only $3! The satin texture glides on perfectly and the formula is enriched with shea butter along with vitamins A, C, and E to nourish and hydrate lips.
Shopping Inika’s product line is easy since all its products are cruelty-free and vegan—no need to go digging to find the kindest options! The brand’s organic lipstick provides all-day hydration and protection from harmful elements thanks to its unique blend of botanical extracts. Formulas are enriched with lip-loving vitamin E, healing jojoba oil, and argan oil which is loaded with rejuvenating essential fatty acids. Each lipstick is also housed in sustainable aluminum packaging.
Jolie’s Air Matte Liquid Lipstick is a dream! It glides on smoothly and dries quickly to help you create a perfect bold look. Unlike other matte lipsticks, this one won’t dry out your lips and lasts all day long, making it easy to take your look from day to night without a hitch. This lipstick comes in 20 incredible colors, from eye-catching purple and black to more subtle nudes and blushes. All of these lippies are cruelty-free and vegan, including the lip gloss.
If you have been around the cruelty-free makeup scene for a while, you are probably no stranger to Kat Von D’s line of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics. All of these products are designed to create the boldest of looks and the lipsticks are no different. The Kiss Crème comes in 15 different shades and the popular Nourishing Vegan Butter Lipstick comes in seven. Be sure to check out the lip gloss and lip liners, too.
Lime Crime is another brand that offers an entire makeup range of vegan and cruelty-free options. Its two lippies, the Velvetines Liquid Lipstick and the Soft Touch Lipstick are must-haves for any lipstick lover. The liquid lipstick glides on effortlessly and dries to a velvety matte finish. The Soft Touch is coined as “The smoothest, most comfortable and wearable matte lipstick you’ll ever try on.” Try it out for yourself!
Like cult-favorite e.l.f., Pacifica is an accessible and affordable option for all your beauty needs, including lipstick. Pacifica has always been 100% cruelty-free and vegan—so you can shop your heart out! The Plushious Mineral Lipstick comes in six vibrant colors and is infused with sunflower seed oil, honeysuckle flower extract, and vitamin E—all to help hydrate parched lips. Prefer a barely-there touch of color? Grab Pacifica’s Lip Oil, designed for extra hydration and a glimmery finish.
New to the beauty scene but making quite the waves in Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's new brand, Rose Inc. The entirely vegan and cruelty-free brand also has deep roots in sustainability. The highly-reviewed satin lipstick comes in a refillable format—so say goodbye to plastic waste! The formula is packed with powerful botanicals to support smooth lips that are visibility fuller. Sodium hyaluronate works to plump while vitamin E hydrates for a soft and supple finish. The brand also has a wonderful dual-purpose lip-cheek tint and a long-wearing lip crayon.
Not all of Tarte’s robust lippie range is vegan, but many of its options are and there is bound to be something for everyone.
If you are a sucker for cute packaging you’ll love the Splash Hydrating Lipstick which comes in a gorgeous blue marble container. The Quench Lip Rescue is infused with coconut oil and vitamin E for ample hydration. As for liquid lipsticks, the Sugar Rush Velvet Lipstick offers full-coverage color that feels more like a lip balm and the velvety finish gives a blurred-out look that doesn’t crack.
Aside from being cruelty-free and vegan, it is hard to resist Too Faced’s metallic gold, pink, and red packaging. The Lady Bold Cream lipstick comes in 12 gorgeous shades and is formulated to last 12 hours and smooth out the appearance of lip lines. The Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Lipstick is infused with Volulip for a no-sting plumping effect and avocado and vitamin E to keep lips hydrated.
Popular brand Urban Decay offers a couple of incredible lip products, including its Vice Lipstick. The staple product comes in more than 35 shades and is luxuriously smooth. Urban Decay’s Pigment Infusion System™ offers bold, long-lasting color. The formula is equipped with aloe vera, jojoba oil, and avocado oil to keep lips hydrated all day.
Please note: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet all of our strict brand standards for curation in one of our boxes.
Kat Smith is a New York City-based writer and editor who loves digging deep into sustainable fashion, beauty, food, and other lifestyle-related topics.
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