Ten cruelty-free brands that are surprisingly affordable

Companies that utilize animal testing are so last season.


Colourpop Official Facebook Page

By Joanna Buoniconti, Collegian Columnist

As people are becoming more conscientious about the products they are putting on their face, cruelty-free makeup is getting more attention than ever. For those unaware of what the term “cruelty-free” means, it describes makeup companies that do not test their products on animals or support animal testing in any way. Animal testing is a far more common problem than many would imagine and is largely supported by brands that constantly appear in mainstream culture such as Revlon, Maybelline, L’Oréal, MAC and Lancôme to name a few.

Personally, I am an avid collector of cosmetics. As both a makeup and animal lover, this is an issue that I feel very strongly about and is one that carries a heavy weight within the hearts of the increasingly conscientious Gen Z. Thankfully, my tastes within the industry have come a long way since I was a toddler, when I would sneak into my mom’s bathroom, steal one of her lipsticks and then proceed to smear the lipstick across my face.

In high school, when I really began to get into makeup, I started researching the products that I was using and found that often the company’s values did not align with my own. Some of the best things about the makeup industry, however, are that it is constantly expanding and inexpensive brands can have the same quality, in some cases better, than higher end ones. Compiled below is a list of cruelty-free makeup companies that are budget friendly to keep in mind the next time you make a Target run or go on a Ulta beauty haul.


Colourpop is the epitome of high-quality products at a very affordable price. They are the holy grail company for both makeup beginners and experts alike. They have everything you need from foundation, primers, brow pencils, mascaras and highlighters to different formula liquid lipsticks. Almost all of their products are certified vegan as well as cruelty-free. This year, Colourpop products have begun to be carried at Ulta and Sephora, but  if you’re looking to browse all their products, their website is the best place to go.

Wet n Wild

This company gets a lot of criticism for producing “childish” makeup, but they are one of the best inexpensive brands out there. Their highlighters are blinding, and their eyeshadow palettes are ridiculously good for the absolute steal of a price point. Plus, nothing beats the mere convenience of walking into a local CVS or Walgreens to pick up their products.


Catrice is perhaps the most underrated drugstore brand. If you’re on the hunt for a setting spray that doesn’t drench your foundation and concealer off, look no further than the Prime and Fine Multitalent Fixing Spray. It delivers a fine mist and is a considerable dupe for Urban Decay’s All Nighter. It is well worth the trip to pick up some of their products.

e.l.f. Cosmetics

Another inexpensive brand that continues to dominate at the drugstore and is also extremely accessible is e.l.f. Cosmetics. The brand is everywhere, from Target to Walmart. They offer everything you need to achieve a full face of makeup and have recently begun branching out into the skincare market. They also offer an array of vegan brushes that will serve any look flawlessly, because no one wants to put animal hair on their face.


I’ll admit I’m not a girl who is into natural makeup. When I wear mascara, I want my eyelashes to be bold and a mile long. If you’re anything like me, Essence has the mascara that you need in your life. Their products are sold exclusively at Ulta.

NYX Professional Makeup

A brand that holds true to its namesake, NYX is one of the most accessible drugstore brands. Carried at both Target and Ulta, their ever expanding lip products are without a shadow of a doubt some of the best drugstore lip products out there. Another tip is that their Micro Brow Pencil is a serious dupe for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz for a fraction of the price.


If you’re on the hunt for a dewy drugstore blush, look no further. YouTubers rave about this brand’s blushes and there’s a reason it’s the holy grail for many people.


This brand is famous for collaborating with many beauty YouTubers. While it is on the pricier end as far as drugstore makeup goes and is only sold at Ulta, their eyeshadow palettes are better quality than some luxury brands and are well worth every penny.

Makeup Revolution

Started in the United Kingdom, this brand is a pioneer in the United States for producing high quality dupes for many luxury products. They are definitely a brand to take notice of.


A recent addition to the cruelty-free family, Covergirl does not need an introduction. The brand has been stepping it up with their new philosophy which has segued into some of their recent launches. They have now taken to incorporating vegan and clean materials into all of the products.

Joanna Buoniconti can be reached at [email protected]