False lashes have been all the rage since the Instagram baddie look became the face du jour a few years back, but a few influencers and, of course, the regular makeup wearer who doesn’t have time or money to glue on a new pair daily, have once again turned to mascara to achieve the thick, ravishing look they love by using their own natural born lashes.
In this quest though, it can be hard to navigate if you’re someone concerned with the ethical implications of animal testing conducted at cosmetic companies, or a practicing vegan who doesn’t want anything sourced from an animal on the ingredients list. Beeswax, honeycomb, and guanine are just a few things that could end up in mascara formulations, rendering them useless to anyone committed to a plant-based life.
Keeping these wants in mind, we looked at several mascaras and talked to a few experts on a quest to discover the best mascaras that are cruelty-free and/or vegan, with most being both, and came up with a solid list of products that will plump up the volume without harming any animals along the way. Read on, and see how you can achieve maximum ethical flirtiness with these much-loved mascaras.
Plenty of other cruelty-free and vegan brands exist in the makeup realm, so head over to our list of the 21 best online beauty stores to see what else you might pick up today without the guilt.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
First up, we spoke with Laurice from clothedup.com who is a former makeup artist and ardent supporter of vegan and cruelty-free brands and has, as she told us, “tried nearly every option out there.”
“My favorite tubing mascara is from Thrive Cosmetics,” she explains, “It's not super spendy and is absolutely *amazing*! This is my holy grail product. It lengthens my lashes without being clumpy or spidery. On top of being cruelty-free, the company gives back to women.”
Thrive promises that with every purchase, they “donate to help a woman thrive” which includes a recent campaign to donate half a million dollars to help frontline workers who’ve been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic head-on. They also taken on initiatives to help homeless women, and they match purchases by donating either the same product, a more needed product, or simply monetary donations to women in need.
But how can it be better than...? It just is, trust us.
Too Faced knocked it out of the park with this incredible eyelash enhancer. The fat wand provides gorgeous, lush fullness to even the thinnest lashes, and it builds incredible length as it expands those little strands. The shiny pink packaging makes it easy to find in your makeup kit, too, and looks glam as heck, too.
If you try and love this mascara, make sure to also test out the accompanying liquid eyeliner of the same name–they’re truly a winning combo.
Deanna Rakowsky of 100% Pure Cosmetics reached out to tell us about the company’s Maracuja Mascara, first explaining their brand ethos:
“100% PURE is a clean, cruelty-free cosmetics, skincare, and haircare company that's committed to healthy, high-quality products without toxic chemicals. The entire line is completely free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic dyes, and chemical preservatives.”
Maracuja oil, a derivative from passion fruit, combines with pro-vitamin B5 and lash-thickening seaweed in order to not only make lashes look their best, but to strengthen and promote healthy lash growth while wearing the mascara as well. An interesting three-shade range includes Black Tea (a pure black shade), Blackberry (black with deep purple undertones), and Dark Chocolate (deep brown).
Next we heard from Ashi, a makeup enthusiast and blogger at CrueltyFreeGuide.com who raves about a very affordable drugstore option, NYX Doll Eye Mascara.
“It is waterproof and doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes,” Ashi emphasizes while explaining why this NYX product is great. “I keep on switching my makeup products as a blogger, but this mascara is one I keep going back to at times.”
Doll Eye is a fiber mascara, meaning it lengthen lashes by adhering and building up tiny fibers that extend and thicken up the lashes to appear almost like falsies. At under $10 and cruelty-free, it’s tough to pass over.
We next got a great recommendation from The Beauty Stree, who rave about Blinc’s Mascara Amplified, a waterproof tubing mascara that promises glamorous, lush lashes that won’t budge through sweat, tears, and resists flaking.
“Blinc's Tubing Mascara adds both volume and length, to give you a radiant natural look that lasts all day,” says the company’s Tamasree Ray Chaudhuri. “Neither water nor pressure alone will remove Blinc Mascara, only the combination of lots of warm water and gentle pressure (no need for harsh makeup removers) will slide the tiny tubes effortlessly off your lashes into your hand. Upon removal, you will actually see the tiny tubes slide into your hand.”
While not one of their vegan-approved products, Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Lash Brag is in line with the cruelty-free ethos of their entire line and ensures jet black, voluminous lashes without the use of parabens or gluten in the formulation.
“I get a lot of people asking if I have lash extensions when I'm wearing it and I find that it goes on really well,” one reviewer says of their experience with Lash Brag, adding, “It also does not flake off throughout the day and it lasts all day even at work.” Many others point out it gives a natural, never clumpy finish that appears delicate but buildable.
Many of Milk Makeup’s products have quickly become cult classic staples in every enthusiast’s kit, but Kush High Volume Mascara is without question one of the standouts. In addition to being vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten free, the product is “formulated with heart-shaped fibers, conditioning hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, and pure pigments for an intense black finish,” making it a favorite of influencers and everyday users everywhere who want supple, intense lash looks without the cost of extensions or hassle of gluing on strip lashes.
While some reviews point out that the formula can have a tendency toward flaking, most are happy to report not only a beautiful finish but growth-enhancing properties as well, like this one:
“I have been using this mascara for over a year and I am only on my third tube as it lasts a long time. It actually grows your lashes over time. I noticed the most growth in the first month as I actually had to pluck a lash that grew in the inner corner. The formula feels healthy on lashes and gives so much length that I have to wait for it to dry before putting on glasses due to my lashes hitting the lenses.”
Marc Jacobs may be known for the eye-catching, ever-trendy couture he sends down fashion week runways around the world, but he’s no slouch when it comes to marking quality, luxurious cosmetics with his widely known moniker. At Lash’d is a much loved mascara on Sephora’s website, earning 96% positive reviews for its lengthening and curling properties, as one user describes: “It really does make my thin blonde lashes look exponentially dark and thicker.”
Another satisfied customer writes, “I felt like I was wearing a natural false lash, even though I wasn’t. I also have to be careful with eye makeup because of my eyes turn red and will start to burn. However, I was able to wear this mascara all day without any sensitivities.” They also emphasize the luxury feel of this purchase, noting, “The packaging was gorgeous.”