Cruelty Free Drugstore Makeup: The Ultimate Guide

Cruelty Free Makeup: I think most of us would prefer it if there weren’t any other factors in play. I mean, who wants to hurt cute little bunnies, right? Unfortunately, buying cruelty free makeup isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. First of all, most drugstore brands are not cruelty free, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that budget is always at least a little bit of a concern. Then there’s the fact that many of these brands say that they “don’t test on animals unless required by law,” but upon closer investigation, aren’t actually cruelty free! What gives?


I won’t bore you with too much vocab, but before we dive into this topic, there are just a few words you should know:

Cruelty free: Products created, developed, and manufactured without the use of animal testing.

Vegan: Products that do not include any animal byproducts.


While these two terms are often paired together, a product can be cruelty-free without being vegan (very common) or vegan without technically being “cruelty free” (less common.) A common way that companies get around the label of “not cruelty free” is by saying that their products are not tested on animals unless “required by law.” While this sounds all fine and dandy, the reality of the life cycle of these products is anything BUT cruelty free. Basically, these companies either outsource their labor and manufacturing to China, where animal testing IS “required by law” for foreign beauty products, or simply justify their animal testing by selling to China. This way, the companies can claim that they do not animal test in the US, where animal testing is not required, but do not have to spend the extra time and money on alternative methods of testing.




The great thing is, cruelty free products don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg! Here are some great cruelty-free drugstore makeup brands:


THESE COMPANIES ARE CRUELTY FREE (not sold in Mainland China):

Wet n Wild (some products vegan, all cruelty free)

Milani (some products vegan, all cruelty free)

NYX (cruelty free but not vegan)

Physician’s Formula (most products vegan, all cruelty free)

Elf (vegan, cruelty free)

Pixi by Petra (some products vegan, all cruelty free)

As a cruelty free makeup artist on a budget, I have some recommendations for the best cruelty free drugstore products for your whole face!

Best Cruelty Free Makeup:


My pick:

Pixi by Petra Double Cleanse Makeup Remover

Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic

These cruelty-free drugstore skincare picks feel so luxurious and help your skin stay clear and glowing!


My pick: NYX Angel Veil Primer

This primer feels incredibly high end, and makes pores disappear! Because it’s oil-free, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling oily or slick, and makes a great base for foundation.


My pick: Wet n Wild Photofocus Foundation

Didn’t think you could get a great cruelty free foundation for $6? Think again! The formula of this foundation is so silky and light, but incredibly full-coverage. It lasts all day too! Score!


My pick: Wet n Wild Photofocus Concealer

This is the holy grail of drugstore concealers. Often described as a mix between two of my favorite high end concealers, Tarte Shape Tape and the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, it’s only $4! So high-coverage and creamy, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using it your whole life.


My pick: Elf Blush Palette

This blush palette is sooooo pigmented! With four different shades in each palette, it includes a mix of matte and shimmery shades for any look you could want to create!


My pick:  Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer

You’ve probably heard about this bronzer if you follow any beauty gurus on Youtube, with its truly buttery formula and blendability, this bronzer will give you a natural, sun-kissed glow that you can build up for contour as well!


My pick: E.l.f. Baked Highlighter

Again guys, the PIGMENT. Similar to the Becca highlighters in consistency, it accentuates the high points of your face without being glittery or chalky. Glow on!


My pick: Milani Stay Put Brow Color

The pigmentation is really incredible on these cruelty-free drugstore brow pomades, and the brush that they come with make application so easy! Plus, this stuff is true to its name and will last all day!

Eye primer

My pick: E.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer

A true classic, the E.l.f. eye primer creates a base for any eyeshadow look while covering discoloration and veins on your eyelids. Available in two shades, it will  make your eyeshadow stay in place all day long.


My pick: NYX Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette

This palette contains a variety of gorgeous nude shades in both shimmery and matte finishes. A great starter palette, its versatility helps you create countless eye looks, and is great for going from day to night!


My pick: NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner

This eyeliner acts and feels (and looks- definitely a purposeful dupe on NYX’s part) like the cult favorite Kat Von D Tattoo liner. The applicator makes it easy for even a novice to create a gorgeous winged-liner look, and the liquid formula lasts all day!


My pick: NYX Doll Eye Mascara

Cruelty-free drugstore mascara was always the hardest product for m to find until I found the NYX Doll Eyes Mascara. This mascara lengthens and volumizes lashes for a truly doll-eyed look that doesn’t flak or smudge. Seriously, the formula is a dream.


My pick: Milani Amore Matte Liquid Lipsticks and Color Statement Lipstick

I cannot rave enough about Milani’s lipstick line. With everything from liquid lipsticks, to traditional cream formulas and beyond, the shade range Milani offers is unparalleled amongst most drugstore brands. The formulas of all of their lipsticks are so comfortable and pigmented,not to mention affordable! One of every shade, please!

Setting Spray

My pick: Pixi by Petra Glow Mist

With the recent crazy for glowing skin, this setting spray is a must. Refreshing and light, it instantly gives skin an all-over dewy look and helps makeup last all day. Plus, it smells amazing.

All of the above products are just as quality as high-end brands you would find at Sephora but without the hefty price tag! Cruelty free cosmetics don’t have to be expensive and they can be just as good or better than their cruel counterparts. While it might not seem like one person can make a difference, if we are all just a little bit more careful with what kinds of products we buy, we can show companies that test on animals that we don’t support that business model. Who knows, in the long run it could lead to some of these companies switching over to cruelty-free testing methods! And we can do it all without breaking the bank. Keep rockin’, ladies and gents.


  1. I was actually going to ask you about cruelty free drug store makeup brands so this was perfect! Thanks!

    • Yaaayyyy I’m so glad I could help!

  2. Love this list! Cruelty free is very important to me.. I don’t want anything tested on animals.

    • Same! It’s so hard sometimes when I want something new that Benefit or Bobbi Brown puts out but it’s so worth it.

  3. This is awesome! Thank you so much for this. I am definitely going to purchase a few of these very soon.

    • Let me know what you think if you do!!!

  4. This is great info! I’m going to stick to the cruelty free drugstore brands from now on! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Yaaaayyyyyyy! This made my day. It’s such a easy change to make and it does so much good!

  5. What a FABULOUS post! I am so glad that more and more are taking steps towards cruelty free – it’s important. I love that Pixi is – they’re one of my faves!

    Coming Up Roses

    • Me too! Their skincare especially is SO great.

  6. Pingback: Ethical Shopping on a Student Budget | Megan Acuna

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