From false eyelashes to eyeliner, and everything in between, all of the eye makeup and accessories listed on our site are confirmed to have no animal-derived materials, ingredients, or testing involved in their production. Buy with confidence, knowing they are vegan and cruelty-free.

What is ‘vegan’ & ‘cruelty-free’ eye makeup?

The term “vegan”, with regard to eye makeup, refers to products that don’t contain ingredients that are derived or sourced from animals or insects, whereas the term “cruelty-free” refers to eye makeup that's free of animal testing, including the individual ingredients used in it.

What animal and insect-derived ingredients are commonly used in eye makeup?

While it certainly isn’t exhaustive, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the most common animal and insect-derived ingredients that are used in non-vegan cosmetics for the eyes.

We’ve also included the origins of these ingredients, their aliases, the purposes that they’re used for in eye makeup, and some of their animal-friendly alternatives. 

Carmine: A red pigment that’s used in many eye cosmetics to achieve certain hues of red, it’s obtained by crushing the female cochineal insect. Reportedly, around 70,000 female beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye.

  • Aliases: Cochineal; Carminic Acid.
  • Vegan alternatives to carmine: Beet juice, alkanet root, synthetics dyes.

Guanine: Used in eyeshadows snd other eye makeup to achieve a shimmery, luminous effect. It’s taken from fish scales and acids that are located in animal tissue.

  • Aliases: Pearl Essence.
  • Vegan alternatives to guanine: Leguminous plants, synthetic pearl, fruit pigments, aluminum and bronze particles or mica - a natural shimmery mineral.

Honey: A saccharic secretion gathered and stored by honey bees. Essentially, it’s food for bees, made by bees. Used as a colouring agent and an emollient (provides creaminess and staying power) in certain eyeshadows and other eye makeup.

  • Aliases: Mel, Miel.
  • Vegan alternatives to honey: Plant-based colours and oils.

Squalene: Typically derived from shark livers, it’s used in eyeshadows, eyeliner and other cosmetics as a moisturizer, and for it’s reported anti-aging effects.

  • Aliases: Shark Liver Oil; Squalane.
  • Vegan alternatives to squalene: Plant-based oils, most notably olive oil and palm oil.

Hyaluronic Acid: Natural hyaluronic acid is typically derived from rooster combs. In makeup for the eyes it’s used primarily as a moisturizer, and much like squalene, for its reported anti-aging properties.

  • Aliases: Acide Hyaluronan, Hyaluronate Sodium, Hylan, Sodium Hyaluronate.
  • Vegan alternatives to hyaluronic acid: Synthetic hyaluronic acid and plant oils.

Amino Acids: The building blocks of protein in animals and plants. Often derived from animal sources such as urine and horsehair. Used in eyeliners and other cosmetics as skin conditioning agents.

  • Aliases: Tyrosene, Cystine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Potassium Aspartate, Sodium Aspartate.
  • Vegan alternatives to amino acids: synthetics, plant sources.

Beeswax: Beeswax is made from melting honeycomb with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. It’s used in eyeliner, eyeshadow and other cosmetics as a thickener, and to help the product stick to the skin. Many bees are killed or have their wings and legs torn off because of haphazard handling when they are farmed.

  • Alises: Apic cerana, Apis Mel, Apis mellifera, Apis Mellifica, Cera Alba, Cera Flava.
  • Vegan alternatives to beeswax: Candelilla wax; Soy wax; Sustainable carnauba wax, Cerecin.

Tallow: The process of making tallow involves boiling the carcasses of slaughtered animals until a fatty substance is produced. These carcasses can come from a myriad of sources, such as labs, slaughterhouses, zoos, shelters, and ‘roadkill’. Tallow is primarily used in eyeliners and other products as a an emollient, to help soften the skin.

  • Aliases: Tallow Fatty Alcohol; Stearic Acid; Rendered beef fat.
  • Vegan alternatives to tallow: Vegetable tallow, Japan tallow, Ceresin.

Silk & Animal Fur/Hair: False eyelashes (or “falsies”) are commonly made from animal sourced materials such as silk, mink fur, sable fur and hair horse hair, among others.

  • Aliases: “Ethically sourced” or “Origin assured” animal hair/fur and silk.
  • Vegan alternatives to silk, animal hair/fur: Synthetic false lashes.

What brands make vegan & cruelty-free eye makeup?

The following brands exclusively make cosmetics for the eyes that are full vegan and cruelty-free, in other words, completely animal-friendly!

  • ADORN Cosmetics
  • Au Natural Cosmetics
  • Beauty Without Cruelty
  • DeVita
  • e.l.f. Cosmetics
  • Elate Cosmetics
  • Fairypants
  • Gabriel Cosmetics
  • LUXIE Beauty
  • Aether Lashes - (Lashes)
  • Dose of Colors - (Lashes)
  • e.l.f.  Cosmetics - (Lashes/Adhesives)
  • Georgie Beauty - (Lashes/adhesives)
  • House of Lashes - (Lashes/Adhesives)

Please Note: For the sake of simplicity, this list does not include brands that have ‘vegan options’ for eye makeup (that list would be impossibly long). It only includes companies whose eye makeup products are completely vegan and cruelty-free.

Is vegan & cruelty-free eye makeup expensive?

In general, vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow and false lashes are not any more expensive, or any less-expensive, than products that contains animal/insect derived or tested ingredients.

Just like alternative versions, the prices of vegan & cruelty-free eye cosmetics can vary based on differences in the quality and the availability of the ingredients used, differences in the manufacturing processes employed, different brand names behind them, as well as a myriad of other factors.

Why should I buy ‘vegan’ & ‘cruelty-free’ eye makeup?

Who wants to smear shark guts and crushed beetles all over their eyes?? Aside from the ‘icky factor’, it’s important to buy eye makeup that you know is vegan & cruelty-free because it’s a way to vote with your dollars. This creates demand for vegan and cruelty-free products, reduces demand for non-vegan/non-cruelty-free products, and is thus a very effective form of animal-welfare activism!

Basically, if we as consumers stop paying companies to put these grotesque and cruelty-ridden ingredients in cosmetics, they will stop doing it.

Similar product categories

If you’ve found this page on vegan and cruelty-free eye makeup helpful, check out similar product categories to learn or shop more:

For companies that make vegan & cruelty-free eye makeup

If you make vegan and cruelty-free liquid eyeliner, eye pencils, mascara, eyeshadow, falsies, or any other vegan/cruelty-free cosmetics for that matter, we’d love to feature you and your products on theBrands We Lovesection of our site! Contact us at  - info(at)getitvegan(dot)com - to get started!


Some of the information for this guide on vegan & cruelty-free eye makeup was gathered from the following sources: