Vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner creams, pencils and more. Shop with confidence knowing that all of the makeup products we list on Get it Vegan are 100% free of animal by-products, ingredients and testing.
What is ‘vegan’ & ‘cruelty-free’ eyeliner?
The term “vegan”, with regard to eyeliner, refers to eyeliner that doesn’t contain ingredients that are derived or sourced from animals or insects, whereas the term “cruelty-free” refers to eyeliner that's free of animal testing, including the individual ingredients used in it.
In other words, ‘cruelty-free’ refers to the safety of testing methods, while ‘vegan’ refers to the origin of the eyeliner’s ingredients.
What animal and insect-derived ingredients are commonly used in eyeliner/eye pencils?
While it certainly isn’t exhaustive, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common animal and insect-derived ingredients that are used in non-vegan eyeliners.
We’ve also included the origins of these ingredients, their aliases, the purposes that they’re used for in eyeliner, and some of their animal-friendly alternatives.
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 as a thickener, and to help the eyeliner stick to the skin. It also happens that 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 as 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.
Watch Out! If a product says an ingredient is from “Natural Sources”, it can mean either animal or plant-based sources. Unfortunately, most often in cosmetics it means animal sources.
Is “not tested on animals” the same as “cruelty-free”?
Many unscrupulous cosmetics companies use a variety of terms to mislead consumers into believing that the eyeliner they’re buying is 100% cruelty-free. Unfortunately, since these terms are unregulated, companies are free to use them in any way they see fit.
For example, here are some common misleading statements you might find on eyeliner packaging, and what they actually mean:
“Against animal testing”
- Just words on a box. This could mean that the company is opposed to animal testing, but does it anyways.
“We don’t test on animals”
- This eyeliner was not tested on animals, but its individual ingredients might have been.
- Could mean anything, without 3rd party verification, they’re expecting you to take it on blind faith. In many cases, it’s an outright lie.
So then how can I be sure the eyeliner I’m buying is cruelty-free?
Despite the rampant usage of misleading terminology, there are several legitimate third party certification bodies that assess whether or not companies and products are actually cruelty-free.
So, the best way to ensure that you’re buying a cruelty-free eyeliner is to find one with that has the approval of one of these third party certification bodies printed on it, by looking for one of their logos. 3 of the most common cruelty-free certified labels include:
- Choose Cruelty Free Ltd.
- The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics - Leaping Bunny Program
Don't be fooled! Some companies will go so far as to put a random bunny image or graphic on their eyeliner packaging in an effort to fool you into thinking that it’s associated with some non-specified certification body. If you’re not sure about a logo, do your research on it.
What brands make vegan & cruelty-free eyeliner and eye pencils?
The following is a sample of brands make eyeliner that’s full vegan and cruelty-free:
- 100% Pure
- ADORN Cosmetics
- Au Naturale Cosmetics
- Beauty Without Cruelty
- e.l.f. Cosmetics
- Elate Clean Cosmetics
- FACE Atelier
- Gabriel Cosmetics
- Kat Von D Beauty
Please Note: For the sake of simplicity, this list does not include brands that have ‘vegan options’ for eyeliner. It only includes companies whose eyeliners and eye pencils are completely vegan and cruelty-free.
Is vegan & cruelty-free eyeliner expensive?
In general, vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner is not any more expensive, or any less-expensive, than eyeliner that contains animal/insect derived or tested ingredients.
Just like generic eyeliner, the prices of vegan & cruelty-free eyeliner 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 various other factors.
Why should I buy ‘vegan’ & ‘cruelty-free’ eyeliner?
Aside from the ‘icky factor’ of smearing roadkill fat near your eyes, it’s important to buy eyeliner that you know is vegan & cruelty-free because it’s a way to vote with your dollars, which creates demand for these 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 eyeliner, they will stop doing it.
Similar product categories
If you’ve found this page on vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner helpful, check out similar product categories to learn or shop more:
For companies that make vegan & cruelty-free eyeliner
If you make vegan and cruelty-free liquid eyeliner, eye pencils, or any other vegan/cruelty-free cosmetics for that matter, we’d love to feature you and your products on the “Brands We Love” section 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 eyeliner was gathered from the following sources:
- Living: “Animal-Derived Ingredients List.” (n.d.). PETA. Retrieved June 25, 2017. https://www.peta.org/living/other/animal-ingredients-list/
- Blog: “Are Your Cosmetics Vegan?” Kourtney Linebaugh (October 27, 2012). Gentle World. Retrieved June 25, 2017. http://gentleworld.org/are-your-cosmetics-vegan/
- Resources: “Watch Out For These Cruelty-Free Labelling Loopholes!” Vicky Ly (July 30, 2015). Gentle World. Retrieved June 25, 2017. http://ethicalelephant.com/cruelty-free-loopholes/
- Find an Ingredient: “Aspartic Acid Beauty.” (n.d.). CosmeticsInfo.org. Retrieved June 25, 2017. http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/aspartic-acid