Looking for cruelty-free beauty that actually works? Whether you’re a huge animal lover or you just want a cleaner beauty routine, vegan is the way to go. The ugly truth is that many makeup and beauty brands still test on animals and/or use animal products, not to mention use questionable ingredients. Bottom line: if it’s not safe enough to test on humans, it shouldn’t be used by humans! Not every product on this list is 100% organic, but they are totally vegan and cruelty-free. Now that’s true beauty.
Weleda is an all-natural, organic, plant-based product line that has been around for more than 95 years, but it’s surprising how many people still don’t know about it. Weleda is all about strengthening the personal balance between body, soul and spirit (it’s based on anthroposophy and uses biodynamic ingredients)—their formulations tailor ingredients such as iris, wild rose, lavender and pomegranate to have a holistic effect. The lotions are hydrating but definitely not greasy; all the scents are sublime, but the Evening Primrose, Rose and Sea Buckthorn are especially luscious. I’m also OBSESSED with the Wild Rose deodorant spray that you simply spray on your underarms (it’s been my go-to for 15 years). The only downside: It can be expensive — $15 for a 3.4 ounce bottle is what it usually costs. That said, the scent will put you in a good mood and unlike antiperspirants, it doesn’t have any sweat duct-clogging aluminum, a big unnatural no-no.
AILA Cosmetics (pronounced eye-luh) is the ultimate vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic nail polish brand. But the reason it instantly became a favorite wasn’t even because of the nail polishes (which come in fabulous shades including modern neutrals and nudes)—it was the nail polish remover! This soy-based nail polish remover is an oil that actually nourishes your nails and has absolutely no harsh ingredients, no chemical smell, leaves none of that chalky residue and yet it works (even on dark colors). You can get it in a bottle or in the recently-launched individual cloth packs, which are perfect for traveling. This line is ideal for those with chemical sensitivities and the nail polishes are made without parabens, sulfates, gluten, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, DBP, TPHP and all those other chems you shouldn’t be wearing.
100 Percent Pure
Just as its name suggests, 100% Pure is completely free of any damaging chemicals, artificial fragrances and toxins commonly found in beauty products. The all-natural vegan line includes cosmetics made with fruit dyes, makeup, moisturizers, masks, serums, scrubs, soaps, shampoos & conditioners, aluminum-free deodorants, “10-free” nail polishes (!) and even cruelty-free brushes. There are so many products to choose from you’ll never run out of items to try. My faves: The smells-so-good-you’ll-want-to-eat-it vanilla bean hand buttercream, mattifying primer (it’s the perfect pre-makeup skin smoother and doesn’t use any dimethicone), coffee bean eye cream (not too thick, not too watery) and the wonderfully minty eucalyptus body wash that will truly make you feel as though you’re at the spaaaaah.
Pacifica has some of the yummiest lotions, potions and perfumes to be found. Seriously, they smell so good you’ll wish you could eat them! There’s a whole array of cosmetics but I’ve found the natural perfumes, lotions and lip tints are must-haves. For a sexy all-natural fragrance, try the Island Vanilla. I also like the Indian Coconut Nectar, which makes me feel as though I’m on an exotic vacation. The Color Quench lip tints come in 100% recyclable tubes and unlike chemical-based balms, they will not dry out your lips thanks to natural avocado and coconut oils. Plus, these tinted balms give just enough color so your lips won’t feel naked. Try the Blood Orange for a sheer coral color, Sugared Fig for a deeper plum hue or Vanilla Hibiscus for a light pink shimmer and the most delicious fragrance.
If you had to choose just one soap to have for the rest of your life, consider Dr. Bronner’s. This vegan-friendly, organic, biodegradable brand has been around forever (actually, since 1948) and the castile (vegetable oil based) liquid and bar soaps aren’t just for your body—the labels encourage you to also use them as shampoo (for humans and pets), mouthwash, dish cleaner, laundry detergent, household cleanser and just about anything else you can imagine. I’ve always been entertained by the wacky label, which actually makes for good reading while in the shower and the brand has expanded to other products including lotions, toothpastes, shaving creams and more. And with so many great fragrances, you’ll never get bored. The almond is sweet and delicious, the rose is heavenly and the lavender is spa-like and soothing.
This ultra-luxe organic haircare brand has an impressive list of all-natural vegan ingredients like aloe and quinoa, but the real star of the show is rahua, a rare nut oil found in the Amazon Rainforest. Even more impressive is that the oils are sourced and processed by local people using sustainable and traditional methods. Beauty editors love the shampoo and conditioner and I’m a huge fan of the Cream Wax, which is great for short hair (my husband loves it!), and the creamy Finishing Treatment, which gives a glossy weightless finish that also prevents hair from splitting during blowouts and using hot hair tools. As for Rahua’s signature scent, that comes from palo santo (“holy wood”). It’s a very herbaceous and distinct fragrance that’s a bit masculine but very soothing. Think of it as Amazonian aromatherapy.
Finally, a luxury skincare line that’s not loaded with heavy perfumes, dyes and chemicals. Goldfaden MD is the first natural skincare brand developed by the dermatologist who brought us the classic Doctor’s Scrub microderm exfoliator. Now, Goldfaden has created this high-end Plant Profusion collection that aims to do everything from hydrating your face, neck and décolleté to diminishing dark circles. The PURFLORA complex uses potent plant stem cells from comfrey leaf, raspberry leaf, white tea leaf, garden cress sprout and even Birds of Paradise. I use the eye cream since the other products are still a bit too heavy for my skin, but if you’re concerned about getting older and can use some serious hydration, this could be the line for you.