Vegan and cruelty-free lipstick. You can shop with the assurance that all of the makeup products we list on Get it Vegan, including the lipstick found below, are 100% free of animal by-products, ingredients and testing of any kind.
What is 'vegan' & 'cruelty-free' Lipstick?
The term “vegan”, with regard to lipstick, refers to products that don’t contain ingredients that are derived or sourced from animals or insects, whereas the term “cruelty-free” refers to lipstick that’s free of animal testing, including the individual ingredients used in it.
What animal and insect ingredients are commonly used in lipstick?
Below we’ve put together a list of some of the most widely used animal and insect-derived ingredients that are found in common drugstore and even designer lipstick, including their gruesome origins, their use in lipstick, and some of their vegan-friendly alternatives. We’ve also included some of their aliases, because you’re not likely to see “acid from crushed beetles” on a label anytime soon.
Carmine: A red pigment that’s common in lipsticks, it’s derived from boiling or otherwise heating female Cochineal insects to death, drying them out, and crushing their shells. About 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce just one pound of this red dye. Whether you hate bugs or don’t mind them, or even if you love 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: These days beeswax is everywhere in the “green” market. Made from melting honeycomb with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. A very widely used and inexpensive ingredient, it helps to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. It also increases the thickness of 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 lipstick 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.).
Lanolin: Derived from the oil glands of sheep, and typically under uncomfortably hot conditions for the sheep (more heat means more oil is produced). Basically, it's hair grease but on sheep. Lanolin is often used as an emollient in lipstick and other makeup and skin care products.
- 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 lipstick?
Who actually wants to smear crushed beetles on their lips? Aside from that, it’s important to buy vegan and cruelty-free lipstick because it’s a way to ‘vote with your dollars’. Essentially, you’re telling retails, manufacturers and distributors what will sell - and what won’t - every time you buy something, lipstick or otherwise. This is a very effective form of animal-welfare activism, and doing so will ultimately help create more shelf space for vegan and cruelty-free lipstick in Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Shoppers Drug Mart, and countless other shops and boutiques (…maybe even Mac one day).
Additionally, sometimes animal and insect-derived ingredients are used in cosmetics because they are cheaper than synthetic or plant-based ingredients, not because they’re superior. So, don’t be worried that if you buy vegan lipstick you’ll be buying an inferior product, because that isn’t necessarily the case.
What brands make vegan lipstick?
Think vegan and cruelty-free lipstick is hard to find? Thankfully, there are a growing number of brands that make it, including:
- ADORN Cosmetics
- Anastasia Beverly Hills
- Au Naturale Cosmetics
- Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC)
- e.l.f. Cosmetics
- Elate Clean Cosmetics
- 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 lipstick expensive?
In general, vegan and cruelty-free lipstick is not any more expensive, or any less-expensive, than lipstick that contains animal/insect derived ingredients, or that’s been tested on animals.
Just like “normal” lipstick, the prices of vegan & cruelty-free lipstick 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, and various other factors.
How do you choose the lipstick to list in your store?
We maintain a growing list of companies that make lipstick that’s rumoured to be vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. We contact all of these companies to find out straight from them if they forego the use of 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 in countries wherein animal testing is required by law, such as mainland China
When we find lipstick that meets this 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 lipstick helpful, check out similar product categories to learn or shop more:
For companies that make vegan & cruelty-free lipstick
If you make vegan and cruelty-free lipstick, 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 was gathered from the following sources:
- FAQs: “What’s wrong with beeswax?” (n.d.). PETA. Retrieved June 9, 2017. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/whats-wrong-with-beeswax/
- Living: “Animal-Derived Ingredients List.” (n.d.). PETA. Retrieved June 9, 2017. https://www.peta.org/living/other/animal-ingredients-list/
- Blog: “Are Your Cosmetics Vegan?” Kourtney Linebaugh (October 27, 2012). Gentle World. Retrieved June 9, 2017. http://gentleworld.org/are-your-cosmetics-vegan/
- Animals & Nature: “10 Common Cosmetic Ingredients That Are Derived From Animal Products.” Pam Ryan (February 24, 2015). One Green Planet. Retrieved June 9, 2017. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/common-cosmetic-ingredients-derived-from-animal-products/
- Beauty: “Best Vegan Beeswax Alternatives.” Mary Hood Luttrell (May 15, 2016). Vilda Magazine. Retrieved June 9, 2017. http://www.vildamagazine.com/2016/05/vegan-beeswax-alternatives/