Best Cruelty Free Makeup Brands that Don’t Cost a Fortune

We love animals. Like, love. So I personally am a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t always pay attention to whether I was using cruelty free makeup brands. Ok, a lot embarrassed. I guess it’s one of those things that gets easy not to think about, until you see a photo of a poor defenseless animal circulating on social media that makes you cry. And then it hits you, there is something you can do to combat animal cruelty and testing. The beauty industry is second only to the pharmaceutical industry in animal testing, and it doesn’t have to be that way. And, you don’t have to necessarily buy premium makeup to be able to do the right thing! While I love me some “Tarte” or “Urban Decay“, there are plenty of drugstore cruelty free makeup brands that are more bang for the buck. And the ones I’m going to recommend also happen to have some of my holy grail makeup dupes for high end products! So read on, and find out how to stand up for animals, and still step out with a pretty face and a full pocketbook.



Best Cruelty Free Makeup Brands that Don't Cost a Fortune


Cruelty Free Makeup Brands

First I want to mention that there are some amazing makeup brands that don’t test on animals. And while this post focuses on drugstore makeup brands to save money, I don’t want to leave out a few quality companies I love. Why? Because if you watch your Ulta sales, you can sometimes get these products at drugstore prices! Here are my top three premium cruelty free makeup brands.



Tarte is one of my favorite high end makeup brands. Their foundation is flawless, their eye shadow palettes are on my Christmas list every year, and I can’t get enough of their lip gloss. And they are one of the best cruelty free makeup brands around! If I had to pick a fav product, I can’t. But it’s between their Amazonian Clay Foundation and their Matte Clay Eyeshadow Palette. The foundation has great coverage and doesn’t get greasy on my oily skin. It also can be applied more sheer with a damp beauty sponge. This is great for aging skin and for people with larger pores. And the matte palette is my choice because I prefer matte shadows, but the “Toasted” palette is my next gift to myself! Watch Ulta sales, especially their 21 Days of Beauty sales. Set your calendar to remind you on the day the Tarte products go on sales and indulge! Or do like me and put everything on your Christmas and birthday lists!


Best Cruelty Free Makeup Brands that Don't Cost a Fortune - tarte logo


Best Cruelty Free Makeup Brands that Don't Cost a Fortune - it cosmetics logo

It Cosmetics

It Cosmetics is a bit of a newcomer, but has made traction fast. Their “Your Skin But Better” CC cream is the best selling CC cream in the country! It has SPF 50, and it’s a physical sunscreen. (Not chemical!) You wouldn’t know it though, it’s so light. And of course, they are a cruelty free cosmetics company. I love that this company was started by a woman just like you and me! And, their products are formulated to be great for your skin too! (No breakouts!)


Thrive Causemetics

Thrive Causemetics‘ is my newest makeup brand crush. This company out of Seattle donates to women in need with every purchase! Beyond that, they have the best mascara on the planet. And I have tried them all. High end, drugstore… this one has them all beat. It does not clump or flake, yet comes off easily with gentle face wash. In fact, the mascara slides off your lashes so there is no pulling at all. And the length you get, with no clumping! Love this stuff. And that they are a cruelty free makeup makes them the perfect place to buy my beauty goodies. And if you consider that they donate with every purchase, the price is reasonable. I also love their new CC cream and their waterproof eyeliner! Their lip gloss is a little sticky for me, but I am looking forward to trying their high shine reviving lip topper. And I haven’t tried them yet, but their face masks have a cult following. Update : I got the high shine reviving lip topper in my Santa stocking, and I love it! Perfect over a lip stain to add shine, and even though it looks a little dark and metallic in the tube, it looks amazing on. Amazing.


Best Cruelty Free Makeup Brands that Don't Cost a Fortune - thrive causemetics logo


Drugstore Cruelty Free Makeup Brands

Ok, now we get to the good stuff when it comes to saving bucks. Cruelty free makeup brands from the drugstore make you feel great, because they don’t test on animals, and they don’t cost a fortune! Ulta carries most of these brands as well.


Cover Girl

Surprised? Cover Girl is now a Cruelty Free Makeup Brand! Their Tru Blend foundation is a great drugstore choice and on many makeup artists carts. But I also love their Professional Waterproof Mascara. It’s a good mascara that comes off easily with face wash and doesn’t require chemicals to remove it.



E.L.F. is a brand carried at most discount stores, like Target and Walmart. It’s a huge brand that has quality products, and I don’t think they have any makeup that costs over $6. It’s often used as a makeup dupe by makeup artists. And I have a secret holy grail product with them myself. Their HD Perfect Finish Powder is just $6, and works just as good as any $30 setting powder from Sephora. I use it to set my makeup even when I am using my favorite Tarte foundation.




Milani has a couple of worthy products I have tried, and their powder foundation is often on beauty editors drugstore makeup lists. But I love their Rose Powder blush. It last all day, and has great, natural looking colors to choose from. Just as good as high end blush, any day. And a cruelty free makeup brand, of course!



NYX Cosmetics can be found at Ulta and most discount and drugstores. They really have just about every makeup product at reasonable prices, with good quality. Check any “Best Drugstore Makeup” list and you will find NYX there! I use their contour powder Sculpting Palette, and prefer it over my Tarte contour palette! Their butter lip gloss is great too.




Wet n Wild

Ok, I never thought I would ever use Wet n Wild. I always thought of this brand as the kind you buy for little girls when they want to play with makeup. But not only are they a cruelty free makeup brand, they have some good products! (Ok, being honest here, they also have some that I wouldn’t recommend.) But, their Icon eyeshadow is a cult fav for a drugstore makeup pick. Their matte shades can take a little more blending, but you get the exact same look as a M.A.C. eyeshadow! And their concealer is an almost exact dupe for Tarte Shape Tape.


Physicians Formula

Physicians Formula is a great cruelty free makeup brand, but it also is hypo allergenic, and keeps up with the latest technology. I love most of their products, from their CC cream to their blush palettes, to their Allure Magazine Readers Choice award winning Organic Wear mascara! If you have sensitive skin or eyes, this is the drugstore makeup brand for you!



Makeup Brands That Test on Animals

Ok, so here is where we are going to throw a few companies under the bus. And these are companies with products I love, and have used. But if all those cruelty free drugstore brands can afford to not test on animals, what excuse have the rest of them got? Maybe their executives need a wake up call just like I had. But right is right and wrong is wrong, so let’s do it. Check your makeup drawer and see if you need to switch brands!

Clinique (Ouch, this one hurts. I love this brand. But, it’s a makeup brand that tests on animals, so I no longer can purchase from them.)

A lot of people ask, is Loreal cruelty free? Nope, unfortunately Loreal is not. And here are some more popular brands that are not cruelty free!

Estee Lauder, MAC, Armani, Mary Kay, Revlon, Maybelline, Make Up Forever, Neutrogena & Avon

If you don’t see your brand here anywhere, and you want to check it out, go see ‘Cruelty Free Kitty‘. They update their database regularly to include only cruelty free makeup brands, and you can search by name or category.

Jump on over to our posts on 20 Best Beauty Hacks, and Natural Beauty Buys Under $10.

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Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates & Steve Bates (co-owners) – Woodard Bates Media LLC consisting of three blogs:, and

Kathy Bates’ previous writing credits include:

Former home decorating expert for Lifetime TV, Galtime and Country Woman Magazine.

Her book spent time at #1 on Amazon’s Home & Garden Topseller List in 2002.

Published or featured in numerous national publications, including:

Country Sampler’s Decorating Ideas magazine, Woman’s Day magazine, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Decorating Solutions magazine, Decorating Ideas magazine, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City News, The Oklahoman, Akron Beacon Journal, Pensacola News Journal and The Telegraph.

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