"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Mahatma Gandhi



My ultimate guide to cruelty free beauty by an award winning, professional hair & makeup artist.

Do you feel guilty about some of your beauty choices?  As a professional makeup artist, I know first-hand how overwhelming it can be to navigate the world of cruelty-free beauty.  It is a subject I am really passionate about and I will always strive to help people to find the best cruelty free products that work best for them. I really believe that no animal should be harmed for the sake of beauty. I cannot believe with all the advancements within the beauty industry that it is still happening, when there are so many great alternatives available.

In this guide, I'll share my easy steps to finding cruelty-free products including what to look for when shopping. From understanding the meaning behind "cruelty-free" to some of my all time favorite brands. It is a long and lengthy subject but I really feel it needs to be more openly discussed and ultimately animal testing should be stopped. My hope is, after reading you will say goodbye to products that have undergone animal testing and hello to gorgeous, guilt-free beauty. When you have time grab a cup of your favourite brew and read on.


Bride, Groom and ring bearing owl

Understanding Cruelty-Free Makeup

Before diving into my favorite brands, it's important to first understand what "cruelty-free" actually means. The term is often used loosely in the beauty industry, but true cruelty-free status means that no animals were harmed or killed during the production of the product. This includes both the finished product and its individual ingredients. To ensure that a brand is truly cruelty-free, it's important to do your research. Look for certifications from organizations such as Leaping Bunny, who are the gold standard when it comes to cruelty free testing. If a company has Leaping Bunny status you can rest assured it is 100% cruelty free. At each stage of it's development from raw ingredient right through to finished product no animal testing has taken place. It's also important to research a brand's testing policies and whether they sell their products in countries where animal testing is required by law. Do also check any mention of animal testing on the product label, even if the brand claims to be cruelty-free. Some brands will claim that they do not test on animals, but add "unless required to do so by law" in their verbiage. This means that unfortunately they will test products if it is a requirement by law, in order to be sold in the country, for example in Mainland China .

Why would brands even do this? For some companies claiming that a product is cruelty free or vegan can be an incentive for their customers to buy their range of products. Sadly, to some companies, this is used as a marketing tool and means nothing more than an increase in profits and to drive sales. According to the Humane Society of the United States over 500,000 thousand animals worldwide each year suffer and die It is an inherently cruel and outdated practice. Terrified animals are made to inhale poisonous chemicals, are made to swallow substances forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes or smeared onto their skin. They endure this every day with no pain relief before they are killed at the end of sometimes, weeks of experimentation.

By taking the time to understand the meaning behind cruelty-free products and researching brands, you can make an informed choice to support only brands that don't test. If a brand is truly committed to avoiding animal testing, they will likely include a statement on their packaging or website. They will also be happy to clarify their status if questioned.

                      There are three levels of classification which products are catagorised into when it comes to testing on animals.

  • Only the finished product is tested on animals. Either the company themselves or a third-party paid by them will test their product on animals
  • Some but not all of the ingredients are tested on animals. This is done either by the company, the supplier, or a third-party.
  • The last classification is if a brand is truly cruelty-free. This is when none of the raw ingredients or final product have been tested on animals.

This brings me onto the subject of parent companies and third party testing. In the beauty industry, it’s common for brands to be owned by a larger company. These are called parent companies, and they’re often global corporations. Many of these parent companies are not cruelty-free. They may also own several brands that are not cruelty-free. This been said, some of the brands owned by these parent companies are cruelty-free and have strict policies against animal testing. Would I buy products from a company owned by a parent company like this? There are two sides to this argument, on the one hand the company can be seen to be cruelty free but on the other they are owned by a company that when required to do so will test on animals.

Some people are happy to support these companies. Personally I will not support companies owned by a parent company that tests. I regularly research companies and products to ensure I have the most up to date information on their cruelty free status. I will not use these or any products in my kit where there is any doubt as to their cruelty free status.

I think there is also a huge misconception about cruelty free products been in some way inferior to other products. This is simply not true, in my experience a cruelty free or vegan product will perform the same and in some cases better than other brands that don't have their credentials. Yes there are also some that aren't great too, as with all makeup brands. There are currently some amazing up and coming brands within the industry. Many people don't realise that a product can be vegan but not cruelty free and vice versa. A product that is vegan does not contain any animal derivatives but may still have been tested on animals. Equally a product may have not been tested on animals and be cruelty free but contain animal-derived ingredients such as carmine (a red pigment made from crushed beetles), squalene (from shark liver oil), lanolin (an emollient made from sheep's wool) Look out for alternative plant-based or synthetic ingredients such as shea butter instead of lanolin, squalane (from plant oil such as sunflower or olive) as alternatives which serve the same purpose.

Another misconception I am regularly asked about is the cost of an ethical or cruelty free product. Sometimes they are perceived to be overly expensive, yes some products can be but, no more than other high end brands that do test. There are plenty of professional quality options to suit all budgets. As demand and awareness for ethical brands grows many budget friendly brands are bringing out dupes of some well known high end brands at a fraction of the cost.

For my professional kit I would never choose a product just because it is a certain brand or based on price alone. In order for a product to be in my kit it has to perform at it's best whether it has cost £1 or £100 I will always rigorously test a product before it becomes a staple in my kit. I use products from many different brands as no one brand is able to accommodate every requirement that I need across their range of products.

Barnsley Bride, groom and dog

Certification to Look For

As I mentioned earlier the Leaping Bunny certification, is awarded to brands that are genuinely committed to avoiding animal testing. They require companies to undergo rigorous audits and inspections to ensure that their products are truly cruelty-free. You can also take a look at their shopping guide resource here Another resource I use often is the brand guide from Cruelty Free Kitty it is regularly updated and very easy to see which brands are cruelty free, vegan and certified. In the next section, we'll dive into some of my favorite cruelty-free makeup brands I love and use in my kit.     

My Favorite Cruelty-Free Brands

Some of my favorite cruelty-free makeup brands that have passed the Leaping Bunny & PETA certifications include Delilah, Kiko Milano, Viseart, Illamasqua, Elf and Inika these all offer a wide range of products, from eyeshadows to foundations, all of which are not tested on animals and many are wholly vegan formulations. Viseart eyeshadow palettes are particularly popular among makeup artists for their high pigmentation and blendability. Delilah is also a popular choice, especially for its award winning Future Resist Foundation, which provides long-lasting wear. Finally, Illamasqua are a brand that has it's roots based in the theatre, they are one of my absolute go to brands. They offer bold and unique makeup products, some of my favourites include the eyeshadow palettes, the cult classic - ultramatter lipstick, the hydra setting spray for all day wear and who can forget the gel eyeliner, applies silky smooth, blacker than black and never dries out.

If you're looking for a great cruelty-free and ethical option for skincare, check out the brand Versed, the dew point moisturizing gel-cream is an amazing daily moisturiser and a staple in my kit. Would you like to know more? Why not book a skincare session in here By choosing to support cruelty-free brands, you can feel confident that you are making a change to help stop this practice and bring about a positive impact. These brands not only provide great products, but also prioritize the well-being of animals and the environment.

In conclusion, finding cruelty-free beauty products are so much easier to buy than a few years ago as awareness and demand grows. It may seem complicated, but once you get started it really isn't. If you would like my help to curate a collection of your favourites you can get in touch here As they say your hair is the crown you never take off the same can be said about our skin. Our furry friends are so worth it, they really don't deserved to be so mistreated in the name of beauty especially since there are such great alternatives that are easily and readily available. Understanding what cruelty-free makeup means, researching brands and supporting them you can make informed and ethical choices. As a professional makeup artist and an animal owner, I encourage you to take these steps towards guilt-free, cruelty free beauty and join me in the fight against animal testing. Remember, every time you choose a cruelty-free product, you're making a difference.



I’m a award winning, cruelty free hair stylist and airbrush makeup artist, based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. I beautify brides and their bridal parties across Yorkshire with the occasional makeup lesson, corporate event and glitter bar added to the mix.

Want to learn some new skills, planning a wedding or event? Let’s chat!