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Top 5 Cruelty-Free Beauty Brands

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the leaping bunny
The Leaping Bunny | Photo Credit

One of the most hotly debated phrases in the beauty industry today is the statement ‘not tested on animals’.

This term is often confusing and misleading because there are a wide range of definitions that exist for cruelty-free products. Some companies claim to be against animal testing and do not test their final products on animals, but instead test the individual ingredients on animals. Others just outsource the testing to other companies and claim that they do not animal test. Frustrating, right?

The only way to be sure the product you are buying is truly cruelty-free is to look for the Leaping Bunny logo. Products bearing this mark are certified cruelty-free under the internationally recognized Humane Cosmetics Standards. Companies who undergo this rigorous certification never test their ingredients or finished products “in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories or its suppliers” on animals.

Want to know more? Read on for five beauty companies who are all Leaping Bunny marked and who are also committed to progressing human and environmental rights.

Afterglow Cosmetics

Afterglow-Cosmetics-website
Afterglow Cosmetics

For girls who have sensitive skin or are wary of the ingredients used in many makeup products, Afterglow Cosmetics offers makeup formulated without petro-chemicals and parabens that doesn’t sacrifice color selection or product pay-off. All of their products are also 100% gluten-free.

In addition to pledging to never test on animals, Afterglow Cosmetics is a proud partner of the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), the premier international organization dedicated to the issues unique to young women with breast cancer. Afterglow Cosmetics donates $2 of every purchase of their Organic Infused Hydra Gloss in CIRQUE to YSC.

Paul Mitchell

Paul-Mitchell-website
Paul Mitchell

There are nearly 100,000 salons in the U.S. that sell Paul Mitchell products, so chances are you’ve either seen or used some of them. In case you’re not familiar, Paul Mitchell sells high-quality, professional grade products with hundreds of editorial mentions and beauty awards.

In addition to offering some of the best products in the industry, Paul Mitchell strives to maintain a culture of giving back. Along with promising to never test on animals, Paul Mitchell has also partnered with the American Cancer Society, Chrysalis, and Grow Appalachia, as well as other human rights and environmental causes.

Burt’s Bees

Burts-Bees-website
Burt’s Bees

Best known for their classic Beeswax Lip Balm, Burt’s Bees also offers a variety of 99-100% natural hair, face, and body products, always letting their customers know how much of the product is really natural. Although Burt’s Bees does use some animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax, royal jelly, and milk, they have never tested their ingredients or finished products on animals.

For all you ladies who are also committed to helping the environment, Burt’s Bees also uses the highest levels of post consumer recycled materials in their packaging and have partnered with the EPA’s Green Power Program to buy green power and reduce environmental impacts associated with their electricity use.

The Body Shop

The-Body-Shop-website
The Body Shop

If you’ve ever slathered on any of The Body Shop’s bestselling Body Butters, or achieved soft and glowing skin with one of their Body Scrubs, then you know just how skilled they are at making our bodies look and feel good.

But The Body Shop isn’t just about making their customers feel good – they want the world to feel good, too. Not only has The Body Shop been at the forefront of the fight to ban animal testing since 1996, but they have also been campaigning on various human rights and environmental issues for years. Additionally, many of their products contain Community Fair Trade ingredients.

Urban Decay

Urban-Decay-website
Urban Decay

What’s not to love about Urban Decay? From their immensely popular Naked Palette, to their forever-lasting 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils, to their amazing Naked Skin Finish foundation and All-Nighter Setting Spray, this edgy makeup brand is committed to churning out some of the best and most effective cosmetics on the market and ending animal testing.

In addition to being cruelty-free certified by both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program (though they were controversially removed from – then reinstated to – both lists this year due to a move to expand to China), Urban Decay also offers a variety of vegan products, denoted by a purple paw print on their website.

Want more info?

Visit Cruelty-Free International to learn more about The Leaping Bunny and the global campaign to end animal testing.

What do you think?

Do you only buy cruelty-free cosmetics? Are you a fan of the brands listed? How do you support animal, human, and environmental rights? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on on October 2, 2012 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , ,

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44 Responses to “Top 5 Cruelty-Free Beauty Brands”

  1. 1
    October 2nd, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I only buy cruelty-free, and I was pleased to see you bring this up on College Fashion. It’s something a lot of people don’t seem to think about. Just wanted to point out though – Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox and The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal… so while Burt’s Bees and The Body Shop’s own brands don’t necessarily test, money from purchasing from those brands ultimately goes to companies that DO test. People might say they’re showing Clorox and L’Oreal that they like their cruelty-free brands by purchasing from them. Everyone’s definition of cruelty-free is different though. To me, it’s better to avoid brands that are owned by companies that still test, and instead support other brands out there that are 100% cruelty-free. (This is obviously a touchy subject and I’m not trying to accuse or offend anyone – just sharing some info and my two cents!)

  2. 2
    October 2nd, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I think there are other brands (A little pricier) that should have been on this list. Like the poster above me said Burts and the Body Shop themselves are animal cruelty free their parent companies are not.

    It’s also worth noting that Urban Decay did have a stint a few months ago where they were changing their cruelty free status in order to sell and distribute to China. They back pedaled after the amount of backlash they received but it made me think less of the company and their values.

    As far as I know MAC is still also testing on animals in order to sell to China.

  3. 3
    October 2nd, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Ashley– Which brands do you think should have been listed?

  4. 4
    October 2nd, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Great article – thanks for highlighting the fact that even though a lot of brands say they’re cruelty-free, animal testing is somehow still involved in the process.

    Also, there’s a great Leaping Bunny app you can download on your phone so that if you’re on the go in Target or CVS or whatnot, you can check brands before buying. Crazy useful!

  5. 5
    October 2nd, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Marissa, I think it would be good to offer brands that are low, medium and high end as well as other focuses in the beauty industry like hair care. I personally try my best not to purchase from any companies (or their parent companies) that support animal testing.

    Here are some well known brands I am aware of that are cruelty free.
    Bare Escentials (Shiseldo), NYX, E.LF, OOC, Tarte, Stila, Too Faced, Hard Candy,

    I would give some indie cosmetic companies some love too as their are a lot that are cruelty free. I personally buy my foundation exclusively from Meow Cosmetics based in the U.S. They don’t mass produce product and only make product when the orders come in. Makeup Geek also sells her own cruelty free line now.

    I’m a natural curly girl so the products that I use in my hair that are cruelty free are: Devacurl, Kinky Curly, Giovanni and Live Clean.

    I know there are a lot more than this but these are brands that I’ve used / use.

  6. 6
    October 2nd, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I am from central Europe and I dont think these brands are available here. But in DM drugstore there is Alverde (made by Germans) and it is my new favorite brand.
    Im glad somebody finally thinks about animals too, so thanks for this article. :-)))

  7. 7
    October 2nd, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Ashley– Thanks for all the info! For this article, I used brands that all had the ‘Leaping Bunny’ mark so as a way to make sure that they 100% did not animal test. I didn’t mention other brands because there really isn’t any way of knowing if they animal test besides taking their word for it.

    I love OCC, Bare Escentuals, NYX, Tarte, and Stila but they have not gone through the Humane Cosmetics Standards certification.

  8. 8
    October 2nd, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    @ merry:
    I’m from germany and i also think that alverde is great because its the priciest of all and also has cool things. I think it’s good to care about these things, that is why i’m glad that there are more and more brands not using animal testing (at least in Germany).

  9. 9
    October 2nd, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I LOVE that you wrote about this! I recently decided to stop purchasing from brands that test on animals and it’s actually pretty hard. It takes a lot of research to find which brands are actually worth my money.

    Lush is also a great cruelty free brand, and they are all vegetarian and mostly vegan. They’re expensive but completely worth the price. As mentioned in a previous comment, Tarte is another cruelty free brand (and I cannot wait to try their mascara!).

    Physicians Formula is cruelty-free, doesn’t use GMOs, and has an organic line. Kiss My Face is a vegetarian cruelty free brand. Dr. Bronner’s is USDA Organic Certified, cruelty-free, and has many fair trade options.

    By now don’t we know what does and does not work? With all the animal research that has already been done we should be able to create beauty products without putting them in the eyes of rabbits. I personally will not purchase from Cover Girl, Maybelline, etc. I would rather pay triple the amount to support a brand that I believe in then fund this animal cruelty.

  10. 10
    October 2nd, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    So glad somebody mentioned Lush! They’re just now trying out makeup and while it’s not amazing, everything else they make is. I would love more posts like this because I’ve just recently been trying to find completely cruelty free beauty companies and it’s hard. Love this!

  11. 11
    October 2nd, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    It’s so hard to find true cruelty free products because, even if a finished makeup product isn’t animal tested, its individual ingredients- produced by a different company- likely are.

  12. 12
    October 2nd, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I think you should of done Arbonne. Arbonne is what I use and its 100% vegan and has never had animal products or been tested on animals. Arbnne has also been around around longer than other companies you listed. Arbonne also has makeup and skincare so it’s both.

  13. 13
    October 2nd, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you so much ! This is so important.
    Though not all the products in The Body Shop are cruelty free, you’ll have to check in the back (:

  14. 14
    October 2nd, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I’m from Mexico and we have local stores that sell a few products like lip balm but not a great variety. Thank you for mentioning Lush, I just found out there is a store in Mexico City, I’m from province but I might go check when I go. if someone else knows about brands in Mexico let me know !

  15. 15
    October 2nd, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    So glad that this topic was chosen! I am having a hard time trying to switch everything in my life to cruelty free. A good site to follow is Vegan Beauty Review! The products she writes about are not tested on animals and have no animal products in them. She also sometimes mentions clothing that is cruelty free and eco friendly (I do not know the owner of the blog, just like the message).

  16. 16
    October 2nd, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Great job! I’m a vegan and this stuff is super important to me and a lot of other girls out there who want cruelty free products that are also high fashion, classy, and/or affordable. I’d love to see more articles like this one.

  17. 17
    October 2nd, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Hell yeah! Huge fan of Burt’s Bees. Their facial products are fantastic. Thank you for bringing attention to a very important subject!

  18. 18
    October 3rd, 2012 at 8:54 am

    How about L’Occitane and Melvita? :)

  19. 19
    October 7th, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I’m glad this topic was chosen, BUT I really wish that lower-end cruelty free products were brought up. Being a poor college student, I will choose eating over buying a more expensive makeup brand every time.

    Having said that, I urge anyone else who wants cruelty free, vegan makeup who cannot afford the high end makeup brands to look on etsy.com! Really! If you search for mineral makeup, it will not only find great-quality vegan and cruelty free, but it will also support a small business owner. Depending on the shop you buy from, eye 3 grams of loose eye shadow can be as cheap as $3, and a 5 gram bottle of mineral foundation will cost the same as a bottle of Maybeline or L’Oreal foundation.

  20. 20
    October 9th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    @Ursa, L’Occitane is no longer considered cruelty-free because it’s considering to market in China, a country that requires animal testing.

    I’m trying to transit my makeup/cosmetics into cruelty-free, it’s hard since I live in Taiwan and a lot of the brands mentioned above (e.g. Urban Decay, Too Faced, NYX, ELF..etc) aren’t sold here. But I’m sure that I can find cruelty free brands here if i just keep on looking! :)
    And like Amanda mentioned above, cruelty-free mostly means that the finished product isn’t tested on animals. However, the ingredients that they use might have been tested before. So research and emailing the company with specific questions is the way to go before buying!

  21. 21
    October 14th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    love this!

  22. 22
    October 29th, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Other non-cruelty brands that I love

    Bath & Body Works
    ELF Cosmetics
    NYX
    Hard Candy
    LA Colors

  23. 23
    November 2nd, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Unfortunately, it’s not just rabbits and mice that are tested on, but cats and dogs as well. I wish companies would put ethics above money, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon in this cruel world. Testing on animals for vanity should be illegal. I have been buying from and supporting only vegan and cruelty free companies. I have thrown out hundreds of dollars worth in non cruelty free products and it was all worth it. Now I buy products that are Leaping Bunny approved.

  24. 24
    January 15th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for this information. I wanted to weigh in. I am the president and founder of Cruelty Free Consumer.com. I developed the concept in 2006 when I really started to get more into using only products that were not tested on animals. It has been quite a journey.
    After much research, I launched Cruelty Free Consumer.com in September 2011.
    This retail site only sells brands that are certified cruelty free by the Leaping Bunny Coaltion. Proceeds of sales also goes back to the other animal organizations that make up the coalition.
    Currently, we feature 25 brands, but are consistently adding more!
    I would love to talk to you and the fans of the site! Together, I believe, we can end animal testing when we talk to enough consumers!
    Thank you!

    Please visit us: crueltyfreeconsumer.com

  25. 25
    August 6th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Urban decay is owned by loreal. Body shop is owned by loreal. Burts bees mother company is clorox.

  26. 26
    December 17th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    You may need to recheck your information. The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal who is owned by Nestle. Both of which are the biggest animal testing companies in the world.
    It’s always helpful to fully research a topic. A company might advertise that they are cruelty free. But the company that owns them does not always have the same views.

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