In Depth

Green light: The best vegan make-up brands

A round-up of the beauty brands taking a vegan, cruelty-free approach to cosmetics

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Veganism is having a moment. Veganuary is experiencing its most successful January take-up ever and more and more people are turning to an animal product-free lifestyle. This trend is something reflected in make-up products, with more and more cult and mainstream brands choosing to go vegan.

Vegan, for make-up brands, means including nothing from an animal source – no beeswax, gelatin, tallow (rendered animal fat), lanolin (oil from the coat of woolly animals), squalene (an oil that can come from shark livers used in eye make-up and lipstick), collagen, oestrogen or retinol derived from animals, or guanine (crushed fish scales used to make cosmetics sparkly). And it also means no testing on animals.

Trying a vegan approach hasn't held back the cosmetic companies who choose to do so. In fact, some of the most innovative and creative brands are vegan or include vegan products within their range. Below we list some of the best.

Urban Decay

Urban Decay has come in and out of fashion since the late 1990s when it was the make-up brand of choice for the angst-ridden teenagers of Dawson's Creek (remember when Jen dared Dawson to steal a UD lipstick?) and anyone who appreciated strong colours and an alternative, grungy aesthetic. The brand turns 21 this year and like everything from the 1990s, it's hotter than ever. UD's make-up setting sprays, legendarily coveted Naked eyeshadow and illuminating palettes, concealers and foundations are absolute must-haves for beauty junkies. All are created without testing on animals – something that has won them the stamp of cruelty-free approval from animal rights organisation PETA – and the majority of products are also vegan.

urbandecay.co.uk

Kat Von D

Another rebel – with a cause – is Katherine von Drachenberg, the model and tattoo artist whose audacious, kaleidoscopic make-up is sold internationally under the eponymous brand name Kat Von D. The products aren't tested on animals and the brand attaches a "#VeganAlert" to the many items that contain no animal products or by-products. Von D has also said she's working to make everything in the cosmetics line vegan. Currently vegan products include all 30 of KVD's highly popular, highly pigmented Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks, the wild and wonderful Pastel Goth eyeshadow palette, and the brand's beloved Lock-It concealer, foundation and setting powder.

katvondbeauty.com

Too Faced

While Too Faced is known for being cheeky, girly, sexy and tongue-in-cheek, the brand definitely takes its make-up very seriously. Dedicated to remaining cruelty-free, it has a large number of vegan-friendly products – including super-soft Teddy Bear Hair make-up brushes that emulate the feel of soft animal fur without the use of animal products – that are carefully listed on their website in the FAQ section. In fact, the brand has just collaborated with Kat Von D, who is good friends with Too Faced's founder Jerrod Blandino, on the Better Together collection. It comprises an eye collection of super-pigmented shadows, a mascara and liner, and a make-up bag with lip and cheek set – all of which are completely vegan.

toofaced.com

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

One brand that is vegan from top to bottom is Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, known for its huge range of Lip Tars – soft and long-lasting liquid lipsticks available in dozens of fierce matte and shimmering metallic shades. OCC is also known for its "micronized" metallic glitters with tiny particles that make it super adhesive and smooth to wear. With everything highly pigmented, fun, beautiful and 100 per cent vegan and cruelty free, it's difficult to leave the OCC website without a bulging shopping basket – but why resist when it's bordering on virtuous to purchase the whole range. 

occmakeup.com

Inika

Another 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free make-up brand is Inika, with a strong focus on incredible, natural coverage. The Australian brand is also completely organic – everything is sensitively produced and, as a result, is kind to skin and easy to use. The BB cream, mineral foundations and blushers are definitely worth a try. But the brand's standout product is the liquid foundation with hyaluronic acid, a unique formula that helps moisturise while also providing fantastic coverage. Inika's skincare is fabulous too.

inikaorganic.com

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