The makeup and cosmetics industry in the UK is massive, indeed it is the seventh-largest in the world and is worth billions of pounds each year. It’s fair to say that makeup producers have not always had the best reputation when it comes to animal testing or when it comes to the inclusion of various chemical nasties. But these days there are many cruelty free and vegan-friendly makeup and cosmetics brands that offer a wide variety of high-quality products.
In this article, we’ll run through some of the top UK vegan makeup and cosmetics brands and we’ll outline what they offer and where you can purchase their products. We will focus on makeup (for faces, eyes, lips and bodies) and nail polish and other nail products rather than some other products that might sometimes fall under the “cosmetics” umbrella (such as haircare products). We’ll also briefly explain what makes some makeup non-vegan, though for a more detailed analysis, check out our article entitled Are Makeup And Cosmetics Vegan?. We will also explain the difference between cruelty free and vegan products (which are not necessarily the same thing).
Best Vegan Makeup & Cosmetics Brands in the UK
We gave basic information about some of the best vegan-friendly makeup and cosmetics brands in the aforementioned article, Are Makeup & Cosmetics Vegan? But here we’ll expand the information with details of what each has to offer in terms of the types of products and also where you can purchase them.
- Example Prices – Lip Liner: £2.99; Liquid Foundation: £7.99; Makeup Gift Sets: £20
- Types of Products – Vast range of makeup and nail products
- Where to Buy – TheVeganKind Supermarket, Amazon
Vegan cosmetics brand, Barry M, has been around since the early 1980s and it has always been against animal testing. All its products are 100% vegan and they have a lot of products! Whether you are seeking lip gloss, mascara, eye shadow, blusher or body glitter, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Barry M’s.
As well as makeup for lips, eyes, faces and bodies, Barry M also has a wide range of nail polish and other nail-related products. Their products are also excellent value compared to many out there too, with lip liners available for £2.99, highlighting palettes for £7.99 and mascara for £4.99.
Beauty Without Cruelty
- Example Prices – Lipstick: £10.50; Lip Liner: £5; Lipstick Trio Gift Set: £31.50
- Types of Products – Wide variety of makeup and nail products
- Where to Buy – TheVeganKind Supermarket, Various independent outlets
Beauty Without Cruelty was one of the pioneers of cruelty-free cosmetics and has been around for over six decades. It is 100% vegan and cruelty free and uses recycled materials wherever possible. They also focus on including natural and pure ingredients and are often cited as a brand that works well for those with sensitive skin.
As with many well-established cosmetics brands, they cover all bases when it comes to makeup including anything you might need or want for your eyes, face and lips as well as a wide range of nail products. They also have a wide range of gift sets for those seeking presents for others (or indeed themselves!). A little pricier than Barry M, but their products are highly regarded.
- Example Prices – Lipstick: £17; Concealer: £16; Eyeliner: £9
- Types of Products – Smaller range than many but includes lipstick, concealer, eyeliner and eye shadow, among a few others
- Where to Buy – TheVeganKind Supermarket, Some independent cosmetics/ethical retailers
Founded by former model and makeup artist Milena Thacker and former model, vocal vegan and former spouse to Beatle Paul McCartney, Heather Mills, [email protected] (or Be At One, if you prefer) are a relatively new cosmetics brand. But what they lack in experience compared to those mentioned above, they make up for in the quality of their products. Though their range is not extensive as things stand, they are proving popular among ethical consumers and we fully expect them to expand their lines in due course.
[email protected] puts a strong emphasis on the inclusion of natural ingredients so their lipstick, for instance, includes avocado oil, aloe vera and argan oil (made from the kernels of the argan tree that is native to Morocco, we’ve just discovered!). Not the cheapest option but the quality is superb, as are the ethics.
- Example Prices – Lipstick: £12-15; Mascara: £15-20; Eyeliner: £15
- Types of Products – Lipstick and other makeup in striking colours and shades
- Where to Buy – TheVeganKind Supermarket, VE Cosmetics site, Various independents
Another 100% vegan cosmetics brand but one that is sure to appeal to those who want to bring out their dark side. For instance, they describe their Black Hole Moisture Liquid Lipstick as “the deepest black known to man” (and it’s pretty darn black!), while their range of eyeshadows is certainly not for the meek and mild among you. Again, not a cheap option but perfect for a present or treat.
- Example Prices – Lipstick: £4-6; Mascara: £4-7; Foundation: £9-14
- Types of Products – Wide range of products for lips, face and eyes
- Where to Buy – Boots, Superdrug, Amazon
The e.l.f. cosmetics brand offers a good value option to those seeking vegan-friendly makeup and accessories. Easily accessible from some of the biggest high street stores, from Amazon or in various other retailers, e.l.f. have products covering just about all aspects of makeup from lipsticks and lip gloss to primers, concealers and foundations, to eyeshadow, mascara and eyeliners. And the big appeal is that most of their products are available at very reasonable prices too.
- Example Prices – Lipstick: £9.50-£19.50; Mascara: £13.50-£25; Foundation: £15-£33
- Types of Products – Natural and organic makeup (lips, eyes, face) and skincare products including accessories
- Where to Buy – Amazon, Various specialist ethical cosmetics stores, INIKA site
For those seeking a natural, organic (and of course 100% vegan) makeup brand, INIKA Organic might well appeal. Established in Sydney in 2006, they focus on ingredients that are 100% natural. This means they do not include any petrochemicals or synthetic substances, there are no parabens, sulphates, or any other chemical nasties, and no animal-derived products of any kind.
Of course, the decision to avoid all the usual chemical ingredients is laudable on many levels, but it comes at a price. Thankfully it is a price many consumers are willing to pay, whether because they are concerned about their own health or indeed that of the environment. And the prices are not astronomical, but just a little more than you might expect to pay if you went along seeking an everyday lipstick or mascara. But they’ve been picking up plenty of beauty awards over the years and for those seeking organic and natural makeup products, they are hard to beat.
- Example Prices – Lipstick: £17-20; Mascara: £24-27; Powder Refill: £9-11
- Types of Products – Eco-friendly makeup for eyes, lips and faces and various nail products; refillable makeup options too
- Where to Buy – Amazon, Various independents
French makeup brand Zao began life in 2012 and take sustainability one step further than most by offering refillable products which come in bamboo containers. So when your makeup runs out, you can simply buy the refill, such as a compact powder or eyeshadow block. Again, there is a trade off between natural, organic ingredients and price, but as with INIKA, plenty of people are willing to pay that little bit extra to purchase products that are less likely to have a negative impact on the environment (and possibly their long-term health).
What Stops Makeup & Cosmetics from Being Vegan?
As we explain elsewhere on the site, there are numerous animal-derived products that are used in cosmetics and makeup. These include some things that obviously come from animals such as beeswax or honey (and no, honey is not vegan). There are loads of other animal-derived ingredients in cosmetics that are less obvious, however. These include things like lanolin (from sheep’s wool), lactose (from milk), guanine (from fish scales) and plenty more besides. It’s often the case that such ingredients will be listed as something rather obscure (or not at all), so vegans should only pick products that are overtly labelled as being vegan.
What’s the Difference Between Vegan & Cruelty Free Products?
There are many makeup products and brands out there that make a point of telling customers they don’t test on animals. But does that mean their products are vegan friendly? Not necessarily. As we explain in our article on the difference between cruelty free and vegan products, the problem is that just because a product has not been tested on animals (and so could be labelled as cruelty free) it doesn’t mean it is free from animal-derived ingredients. To many vegans (and indeed non-vegans) this could be seen as something of a contradiction. For instance, how could a product that includes something like carmine (that is made from crushed insects) be classified as cruelty free? Clearly it’s cruel to crush insects, at least if you view it from the insects’ perspective.
On the flip side, technically at least, if a product is vegan or, more likely “plant-based”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it hasn’t been tested on animals. It might simply mean that it doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients, but unless it also specifies the product in question is cruelty free, some brands might still label it as vegan friendly or plant based.
Of course, most vegans would not choose to purchase products they knew had been tested on animals. As such, choosing products and brands that make it clear that they contain no animal products and in addition have also not been tested on animals is the way to go.
What Is Vegan Makeup Made From?
Pick up a lipstick (or just about any makeup for that matter) in Boots or some other high street shop and you might be surprised at just how many ingredients it contains. As such a growing number of people are keen to use makeup or other cosmetics that only contain “natural products”.
People are becoming ever more aware of the ingredients that find their way into products of all kinds, whether food or household products or those like cosmetics that people smear on their faces. If you take a look at just about any (vegan or non-vegan) lipstick, mascara or just about any cosmetic product, you might be shocked to see how many chemical-sounding ingredients are contained within. And even those that are classed as organic, eco-friendly and vegan tend to have at least a few chemicals thrown in there for good measure (though often these are chemical names of naturally occurring products, such as inorganic compounds like titanium dioxide that occurs as a natural mineral in nature – although it can also be synthesised).
As such there can be somewhat blurred lines between which ingredients are natural and which are synthetic. Generally speaking though, products that include things like jojoba oil, carnauba wax and other such plant-based ingredients tend to be viewed as more “natural” than those packed full of something like polyethylene terephthalate (which, in case you were curious, is a thermoplastic polymer resin that is used in various clothing fibres but also things like lipsticks).
In short though, the variety of ingredients that find their way into makeup and cosmetics products is quite astounding and it is highly likely that you will not recognise at least some of those listed among the ingredients, if you deem it wise to look. It could pay to do a little research yourself on what goes into your favourite lipstick or eyeliner as there are probably some substances contained within some products that you might not want on your skin or near your eyes!
Vegan Makeup & Cosmetics: Conclusions
As we can see from the handful of highly rated vegan-friendly makeup brands mentioned above, there is already plenty of choice for vegans when it comes to beauty and cosmetics products. And that’s before the many specifically vegan-friendly products that are made by some massive cosmetics brands (that we haven’t included here as they also make lots of non-vegan products).
It is plain to see that the popularity of both vegan and eco-friendly makeup products is certainly growing all the time and we anticipate even more 100% vegan makeup brands will emerge in the coming years. With more choice than ever, vegans shopping for lipstick or mascara no longer have to scour the ingredients lists of products, they can simply head over to TheVeganKind Supermarket or their favourite vegan retailer and find the products they seek.