Cruelty-free skincare options to shop now and love forever

We break down few key things to know to make the cruelty-free skincare shopping process a bit easier

Different skincare bottles and vials for cruelty-free skincare piece
(Image credit: Future)

The best cruelty-free skincare choices have gotten even more popular in recent years as consumers strive to be more mindful while shopping. But your personal skincare routine order already requires you to find products that suit your skin type and fit within your budget—and this is another step in your quest for the right products which requires research. 

The good news is that the market is filled with great cruelty-free products, from excellent makeup brands to effective skin solutions. So, whether you're treating breakouts, trying to reduce excess oil or dryness, or you need the best moisturizers for dry skin, here's what you need to know to make shopping for cruelty-free skincare easier. 

What does 'cruelty-free skincare' actually mean? 

According to the FDA (opens in new tab), there is actually no legal definition for the term cruelty-free. That means the meaning of this label could vary depending on a company's goals and practices.

Therefore, the reality of exactly how ethically a specific company acts can be a bit trickier to determine.

basket with skincare products in on pink background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just as you should identify the differences between sustainable and ethical practices, it's also worth pointing out that vegan skincare products may not also be cruelty-free; a brand may not use animal ingredients, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee that a product or its ingredients weren't tested on animals. 

Between labeling, vague wording, and not being in the know yourself, figuring out which brands are truly cruelty-free can take time. However, doing a bit of research can ensure you're paying for a product that is truly cruelty-free.  

The best cruelty-free skincare brands to know about

More and more skincare brands are moving away from testing products on animals, and creating products from animal resources. They're making the effort to create healthier products that are eco-friendly and truly work wonders to become a staple inside, say, the best mini fridges for skincare.

Some of those brands that have taken steps to be completely cruelty-free include the following. 

  • CLE Cosmetics (opens in new tab): Offers cleansers, elixirs, multi-purpose creams, and more
  • Coconut Matter (opens in new tab): Targets more than the face with body butters, scrubs, and deodorants
  • e.l.f. (opens in new tab): Famous for its top-tier makeup buys but recently branched into skincare
  • Emani (opens in new tab): Focuses on your face with gorgeous skincare (and make-up) buys
  • FitGlow (opens in new tab): Products are made with plant-based ingredients to achieve a natural glow
  • Glossier (opens in new tab): The cult millennial pink beauty brand that's all about everyday essentials
  • Paula's Choice (opens in new tab): A seriously popular, research-backed skincare brand
  • Sunday Riley (opens in new tab): Another very popular skincare brand, loved by celebrities and beauty experts alike
  • Supergoop (opens in new tab): Probably best-known (and loved!) for its excellent sunscreens 
  • The Body Shop (opens in new tab): Has been a leading name in ethical beauty for decades

There are, of course, many more cruelty-free skincare brands out there, but the few listed above are a great starting point—as is our list of the most popular vegan beauty brands. Each has products that target a range of different skin types while helping users to look and feel their best.

On your quest for the right cruelty-free skincare for you, you can also read reviews on brand products and ask friends if they've tried the brand. Most importantly, don't stress if you don't have all the answers right away, as learning about skincare is a process. Happy cruelty-free skincare hunting!