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At the beginning of 2018, I made the conscious decision to only buy cruelty-free health and beauty products. I had been going back and forth with it for several years and bought cruelty-free when I could, but as someone who loves animals, beauty products, and making my opinion known, going full force was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I personally made the decision to go cruelty-free because there is no reason that in the modern age we still need to test non-pharmaceuticals on living creatures. Many of the ingredients used in health and beauty products have already been extensively tested in the past. Not only this, but the treatment of the animal subjects is absurd. They are kept in tiny cages, injected with materials only intended to be put on the skin, and the practice is still unreliable considering animals such as pigs, mice, dogs, and rabbits do not react to chemical compounds the same ways humans do.

While these practices are known to essentially be useless and cruel, beauty companies continue to allow their products to be tested on animals because it is a legal requirement to sell to China. For example, in 2017, cosmetics company NARS received extensive backlash as the previously cruelty-free brand began selling their cosmetics in China. While being cruelty-free isn’t for everyone financially, it is definitely something to look into. It makes me feel more in control of the beauty marketplace I’m molding via my hard earned money and telling cosmetics companies that I care more about the wellbeing of animals than how much money is in their pocket.

How do you know if a product is cruelty-free?

My overall favorite resource for determining if a brand is cruelty-free is crueltyfreekitty.com but usually, a cruelty-free product in the United States will have one of two symbols printed on its packaging; the leaping bunny or the PETA bunny. The dilemma still lies within the differences between individual companies and parent companies. For example, the popular natural beauty brand Burt’s Bees remains cruelty-free while being owned by the parent company Clorox. The best bet, though, is research.

My favorite cheap cruelty-free products/brands

Often times, cruelty-free products run at a higher price tag than their tested counterparts. This would be problematic for us broke college students, but with access to computer apps like Honey and Shoptagr to determine the best coupons and when those coupons become available, feeling good on a budget is possible. Listed are some of my favorite cruelty-free drugstore (-ish) products that can be picked up from your local Ulta, Sally’s Beauty Supply, or drugstore.

Shea Moisture

Honestly, Shea Moisture is my favorite hair care and skincare brand of all time. The brand is known for their use of African black soap and shea butter while remaining organic and sustainably produced. My ride or dies include their African Black Soap and Bamboo Charcoal skincare collection that keeps my oily skin acne free without drying it out and the Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner that soothes my dry, dyed hair.

Alba Botanica

This brand is a great cruelty-free and 100% vegetarian source for health and beauty products from deodorant to face masks. AB has also been working with the charity CARE.org for the 3-year Empower Her Through Education Campaign to improve global access to schools for girls. The Hawaiian Sunscreen Green Tea Lotion SPF 45 is crucial for my daily outdoor commute in the summer months and irritation-free tattoo protection and The Hawaiian Detox Warming Clay Cleanser helps remove the pollution that accumulates in my skin throughout the day.


Pacifica is a 100% Vegan and cruelty-free brand that allows you to send in your empty bottles to have them recycled into toothbrushes and razors. My favorite products include their micro-batch perfumes, specifically in the citrus scent Tuscan Blood Orange and their Cactus Water Cleansing Micellar Cleansing Tonic that I love to use on those nights where taking time to wash my face just isn’t practical.

Wet n Wild Cosmetics

If you’re looking for cheap, cruelty-free, and sometimes vegan cosmetics and brushes, Wet n Wild will become your new go-to. My frequent repurchased products are the Photofocus Foundation that is perfect for full coverage on its own or lightened with moisturizer, the Megalast Lip Color in Bare it All that is my perfect nude, and the entirety of their Zodiac Collection MegaGlo Highlighting Bars.

Manic Panic N.Y.C.

In my lifetime, I’ve had hair every color of the rainbow so to say I’ve had the chance to test a few brands is an understatement. 6 years later, my favorite remains Manic Panic. This Vegan and Cruelty-free brand has been around since 1977 and has been used on celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and the cast of Suicide Squad! Currently, I am a washed out version of Classic High Voltage Atomic Turquoise but my favorite has been Cotton Candy Pink

CRYSTAL Deodorants

CRYSTAL has begun to revolutionize deodorants by using exclusively mineral salts to act as a hypoallergenic deodorizer. While not an antiperspirant, this deodorant serves to allow your body to continue sweating and avoiding clogged pores while making your pits smell fresh. I use the traditional Invisible Solid Deodorant in Unscented.

CVS Pharmacy in-house brands

Surprisingly, the store brands for this popular drugstore are cruelty-free! In their official Animal Testing Policy, it states, “We do not test any store brand products on animals as part of our product development process or outsource this activity to any third parties. We work closely with our store brand supplier partners to ensure they are aware of and adhere to our company policy related to animal testing.” This can be a great option to find dupes for drugstore health and beauty products that test on animals. My go-tos include their Beauty 360 Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloth Towelettes and Intense Moisturizing Lotion for my tattoos.

Olivia is a Fine Arts major with a minor in Psychology, aiming to be an Art Therapist. In her free time, she likes to play the Sims 4 and hang out with her dog.
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