Cruelty-Free Beauty 101: A Shopping Guide

Over the last year and a half or so, I’ve been on a mission to make myself a more ethical consumer. I never realized how much suffering my dollar was going towards. The beauty/cosmetics industry can be particularly cruel. As much as I love putting on makeup, experimenting with my look, and looking my best these things are not worth the life of an animal. Animal testing is still widespread in the industry, and many beauty products contain animal derived ingredients.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Greater awareness of this issue has lead to many amazing cruelty free brands. This is also an area where your dollar counts. Each time you buy items that align with your values, you are voting with your dollar to see more products like that. Online resources like have a-z lists of brands that do, and brands that don’t test on animals which is a perfect way to start. There’s also lists of cruelty free items by category and by store. Plus, articles to educate yourself on the topic of cruelty free cosmetics.

While you might be discouraged by the number of brands you use on the “not cruelty free” list, you might be encouraged by the familiar brands you discover are cruelty free. Several brands are also going vegan. For example, e.l.f. and Pacifica are available at drugstores and don’t use any animal ingredients. Also, tarte and Wet & Wild don’t test on animals plus have plenty of vegan options.


While I have decided to use up products I’ve already bought, I now only buy products that were not tested on animals. Here are my recommendations for cruelty-free and vegan products that actually work for me (most of which won’t break the bank).


1) Shea Moisture Vegan Lip Balm


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It’s lip balm. It’s hard to screw up. I have the scent pictured as well as the superfruit multivitamin scent. Other scents are also available. They both smell pretty good and make my lips soft as heck. Plus, it comes in a squeezy tube which is pretty fun. They’re available on Amazon, at Ulta beauty, Target and most Walmart locations.


2)  Pacifica Beauty Spray Perfume


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Pacifica perfumes all smell so delicious and for me, they last all day. I have the scent pictured, Persian Rose. So many scents are available though! Whether you like fresh scents, or florals, or fruity, or warm scents, you’ll find something. They also have most of their perfumes available in a roller ball format if you prefer that! I got mine at Ulta, but they’re definitely also available online.


3) Tarte Creamy Matte Lip Paint


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This liquid lipstick stays on so well and doesn’t suck all the moisture out of your lips. It’s a bit more pricey than some of the other items on this list but it is worth it for lipstick lovers in my opinion. This shade is “birthday suit” which is a pretty neutral shade. It is also available in other neutral shades as well as plenty of reds, pinks and purples. You can get yours online, at Sephora or Ulta.


4) Pacifica Pineapple Quench Oil-Free Water Serum

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This moisturizer was a game changer for me. I’ve always struggled with acne, and while my skin isn’t perfect, I’ve had some of the best skin since like age 12 with this. The key ingredient is hyaluronic acid. This acid is what actually holds the moisture in your skin, meaning that your skin won’t have to compensate for its lack of moisture by creating excessive amounts of oil. Plus, its super fruity smelling and can be found online or at Target.


5) Pacifica Pineapple Cleanse Oil Slaying Face Wash


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This is the companion face wash to the moisturizer above (if you couldn’t guess from the picture and the name). I like this one because it cleans excessive oil, but doesn’t overdry. Plus it has that same amazing fruity scent. Also available online and at Target.


6) e.l.f. Mascara


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How good could a $3 mascara be? Pretty good if you ask me! E.l.f. Has a wide variety of different formulas and brush shapes and most of them are only $3. They really make a difference in your lashes and they don’t flake off. I currently have the one pictured, which is the lengthening and volumizing formula. Available at Target, online, at the Christmas tree shop, some Ulta locations, and some drugstores.


7) The Body Shop - Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask


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I am a big fan of face masks. This one is excellent for people with acne prone skin. Plus it’s green, and who doesn’t want to look like Shrek even if only for 10-15 minutes?! Ask your friends and family what they’re doing in your swamp. Available at The Body Shop (obviously), online and at Ulta.


8) Broo Shampoo & Conditioner


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I know haircare made out of beer seems a little weird, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. This shampoo is formulated without sulfates or silicone so it has really helped my curls. My hair isn’t super curly, but shampoos with sulfates just make it puffy, frizzy, and vaguely wavy. Available online and at CVS.


9) Acure - Incredibly Clear Acne Spot Treatment

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I randomly took a chance on this spot treatment about a month ago after the last spot treatment I used didn’t work for me. This one works pretty well! It generally reduces the size of the spot overnight. Available online and at… you guessed it, Target.


10) The Body Shop - Body Butter

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The Body Shop body butters make your skin super smooth and many of the scents are vegan! I currently own this British Rose one. Other vegan scents include Fuji green tea and banana. Available online, at Ulta, and of course The Body Shop.


Happy shopping!


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