Vegan and cruelty-free lip makeup. You can shop with the assurance that all of the makeup products we list on Get it Vegan, including the lip liner, lipstick and lip gloss found below, are 100% free of animal by-products, ingredients and testing.

What is ‘vegan’ & ‘cruelty-free’ Lip Makeup?

The term “vegan”, with regard to lip makeup, refers to lipstick, lip liner, lip gloss, lip pencils and similar products that don’t contain ingredients that are derived or sourced from animals or insects, whereas the term “cruelty-free” refers to lip makeup products that are free of animal testing, including the individual ingredients used in them. 

What animal and insect ingredients are commonly used in lip makeup?

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 lip makeup products, including the origins of these ingredients, their use in lip makeup products, and some of their vegan-friendly alternatives. We’ve also included some of their aliases, because for some reason, you’re not likely to see “fish scales” or “crushed beetles” on a label anytime soon.

Carmine: A red pigment that’s common in lip liners, lipstick, and pretty much any non-vegan makeup with a red hue. Carmine is derived from boiling or otherwise heating female Cochineal insects to death, drying them out, and crushing their shells. About 70,000 of these beetles must be killed to produce just one pound of this red dye. Whether you hate bugs, love them, or don’t mind them, would you smear them on your lips?

  • Aliases: Cochineal, Carminic Acid, Dactylopius Coccus Extract.
  • Vegan alternatives to carmine: Alkanet root; beet juice; natural Iron Oxide pigments.

Beeswax: Due in large part to its affordability and ease to find commercially (not because it is a higher quality ingredient), beeswax is everywhere in makeup these days, especially in the “green” market. Beeswax is made from melting honeycomb with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. In cosmetics, it helps to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. It also increases the thickness of lipsticks and other solid cosmetic products, allowing for a smooth application, and rigid form. 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

Gelatin: A protein that’s typically obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, or bones of pigs, cows and other animals. Gelatin is generally used in lip makeup products as a binder, structuring agent, and/or thickener. 

  • Aliases: Gel, Hide Glue, Gelatine, Isinglass, Kosher and Halal Gelatin.
  • Vegan alternatives to gelatin: Plant-based oils, as well as Irish moss (carageenan) and seaweed (agar, kelp, etc.).

Guanine: Taken from fish scales and acids that are located in animal tissue, guanine is used in lip and other cosmetics due to its ability to provide shimmer and a luminous, pearly effect. 

  • Aliases: Pearl Essence
  • Vegan alternatives to guanine: Leguminous plants, synthetic pearl, or aluminum and bronze particles.

Lanolin: One of the most commonly used animal-derived ingredients in the cosmetics industry, lanolin is derived from the oil glands of sheep, and typically while they endure uncomfortably hot conditions (for the purpose of ramping up the production of their oil). It’s put into lip gloss, lipstick, and many other lip makeup products as a lip softener. Unfortunately, once the sheep outlive their productivity, they’re sent for slaughter.

  • Aliases: Aliphatic Alcohol, Cholesterin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Acids, Wool Fat, Wool Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Lanosterols, Triterpene Alcohols, Lanothionine.
  • Vegan alternatives to lanolin: plant and vegetable oils, such as sustainably harvested palm oil and cocoa butter.

Why Should I Buy ‘Vegan’ & ‘Cruelty-Free’ Lip Makeup Products?

Who wants to smear fish scales, sheep grease or crushed beetles onto their lips? Aside from the ‘icky factor’ it’s important to buy vegan and cruelty-free lip makeup products because it’s a way to vote with your dollars, which is a very effective form of animal-welfare activism! If we as consumers stop paying companies to put these grotesque and cruelly obtained ingredients in lip products, they will stop doing it. By communicating this demand, it ultimately helps create shelf space for vegan and cruelty-free lip makeup in your favourite store! 

What brands make vegan lip makeup?

Thankfully, there are a growing number of brands that make vegan & cruelty-fee lip makeup, including:

  • ADORN Cosmetics
  • Aesthetica
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills
  • Aromi
  • Au Naturale Cosmetics
  • Axiology
  • Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC)
  • DeVita
  • e.l.f. Cosmetics
  • Elate Clean Cosmetics
  • Elixery
  • Fairypants
  • Gabriel Cosmetics
  • Herbivore Botanicals
  • INIKA Organic

More to come! As we verify more brands, more will be add to this list!

Is vegan and cruelty-free lip makeup expensive?

In general, vegan and cruelty-free lip makeup is not any more expensive, or any less-expensive, than lip makeup that contains animal/insect derived or tested ingredients.

Just like “normal” versions, the prices of vegan & cruelty-free lip makeup 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.

How do you choose which lip makeup products to put in this store?

We maintain a growing list of companies that make lip cosmetic products that are reported to be vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. We contact all of these companies to find out straight from them if they use animal and/or insect-derived ingredients, and to see if they abide by specific cruelty-free practices, including:

  • Not testing their final products or ingredients on animals
  • Not paying someone else to test ingredients or final products on animals for them
  • Not using ingredients that are tested on animals
  • Not selling their products en masse to retailers in countries wherein animal testing is required by law, such as mainland China

When we find vegan lip cosmetics that meet this set of cruelty-free criteria, and is sold on Amazon, we list it here for your shopping convenience.

Similar product categories

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

For companies that make vegan & cruelty-free lip makeup

If you make vegan and cruelty-free lipstick, lip gloss, or any other vegan/cruelty-free product 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 lip makeup was gathered from the following sources: