I’ve always been super interested in the beauty industry. The creativity that thrives in the makeup world is so admirable, and it’s really fun to partake in the festivities. Putting together a makeup look is something that I really look forward to every single morning. There’s just so much freedom in how you choose to physically express yourself.

In today’s world there’s a quick and (usually) painless solution to fix any superficial problem. If you can avoid undergoing an actual treatment or procedure, there will at least be a plethora of products available to correct almost any physical issue. Perhaps a lot of these practices are a tad unnecessary, but I still think that we’re lucky to have these solutions at our fingertips. As the consumer, we have all the power to decide which brands and companies that we want to support. Just like the food industry, supply and demand rules all.

Let’s be honest though, most of us don’t consciously think about animal testing in relation to the beauty industry, unless you’re already living a compassionate lifestyle. When you’re in a rush to replace your favourite tube of concealer, you’re likely only considering a few things: price, quality, and brand. Oh, and did I forget to mention price?! That’s right. A lot of us tend to skip out on the expensive high-end makeup brands because as time goes on, we can find similar quality in drugstore products. I’m totally guilty of this. If I haven’t been saving a Sephora gift card in my wallet for a few months, I know exactly what will work for me in a conveniently located drugstore. That being said, it’s incredibly important to always think beyond the packaging and value propositions of these products and companies when you’re planning a purchase.

When I switched to a plant-based diet, I donated and returned all of the non-vegan food in my fridge and cupboard. This was a very easy decision to make; however, when it came to the beauty products that I was so accustomed to using, I really wasn’t sure what to do. I typically buy products in bulk (provided they have a decent shelf life, and if they’re on sale at the time), so I was stuck wondering what the best option was. With no way to return the multiple products that I already had in stock, I decided to use them up, whilst giving myself some time to research cruelty-free options.

I’m not going into detail about what exactly animal testing entails, as the point of this post is to motivate you to think beyond the surface. If you can make a conscious point to steer clear of the non cruelty-free brands, you will communicate your opinion plain and simple. I do, however, recommend doing some digging on your own. It honestly never hurts to make yourself more aware of industry practices and standards.

You can imagine my shock when some simple research revealed that locating cruelty-free cosmetics was actually a lot easier than I thought. I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that supporting these compassionate companies really just came down to checking out the other side of the aisle.

This whole animal cruelty issue has been weighing heavily on my mind during the last little while. I really don’t like thinking about how my mindless choices can inflict more harm in the world than needed. Even if you’re not a vegan, a lot of good can come from bringing awareness to yourself and others.

Although a product is cruelty-free, it does not necessarily mean that it’s also vegan. Take note of this when you start looking into alterative makeup, as you can learn a lot from simply reading the label. After going through some lists, I finally decided what to do. I’ve been tempted to test some NYX products for quite some time, so I was stoked to see them on list. Even PETA wrote an article dedicated to their faovrite NYX products – what?!

You will likely find a lot of your favorite brands on the safe list, so pat yourself on the back if you’re already avoiding animal testing. I think it’s really cool that companies have found alternative ways to test their products, without inflicting harm onto other beings. It really shouldn’t feel that good to cleverly conceal a pimple if countless animals are being physically harmed and sacrificed in the process. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case. You get to make the choice in all of this – so own it.

I’m happy to report that in the process of purging the products in my makeup bag, I actually found a few in there that are still safe to use. I created the makeup look for this post with all of the new products that I purchased, as well as the ones that still count as cruelty-free. I’m really excited to share my opinion on the purchases that I made, including the price points, and how they worked with my everyday makeup look. But more importantly, I want to compare these newbies to the products that I used to use, as they may be in your current makeup bag too. If you’re like me, you’ve become dissatisfied with your current makeup selections and brands, so here’s another reason to give compassionate cosmetics a try!

Although there’s a big difference between vegan cosmetics and cruelty-free, it’s all about baby steps. Thankfully, there are lots of vegan brands popping up all over the place these days. I definitely plan to transition into using completely vegan products within the next couple of months. Eliminating the purchase of any and all animal products is quite a pride-worthy accomplishment, so I’m happy to support the cause.

Since I haven’t purchased anything from NYX before, I’m including a copy of my receipt below. Although some of their products are carried in drug stores, they have their complete collections in their stores and online, so if you’re not satisfied with your local selection, be sure to check out their website.

Here are the specific products that I purchased from Shoppers Drug Mart, all 100% cruelty-free.

NYX Stay Matte but Not Flat Foundation Powder
Price: $14.49 CAD

*Includes Pressed HD Powder, application sponge, and mirror

This product is a great replacement for any kind of finishing powder or setting powder. If you don’t have a lot of skin issues on your face, the consistency and pigment could be enough for you to use as an all over foundation. Since I’m pretty pasty white, I often struggle with finding shades to match my complexion. I either look too sickly from the strange undertones, or orange all over, so this is a great inbetween shade. I’m definitely satisfied with this product, and I’m happy to replace the ones that I previously used on a daily basis.

NYX Vinyl Liquid Liner

Price: $11.49 CAD

This product is a steal! As you will see below, I often have to pair two different liquid liners together in order to get a consistent winged line on my top lid. Though I found a way to make it work in the past, I’ve had to spend over $20 just to create the look that I wanted. The Vinyl Liner has a great applicator, and once dry, the end result is shiny and surprisingly water resistant. This is a great product to use if you work long hours, and don’t want the hassle of reapplying your makeup throughout the day.

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick

Price: $10.99 CAD

This Lipstick is absolutely amazing. This is the first time that I’ve given liquid lipstick a try, so I’m shocked that it was an immediate hit for me. It can be hard as a pale person to find a suitable shade, and I’ve definitely struggled in the past. While looking over the many color options, I grabbed the Stone Fox shade because I knew that the tones would work with my complexion. The applicator is very precise, giving you lots of control. It also doesn’t dry too quickly, so you have some time to form an allover consistent coverage before heading out the door.

NYX HD Concealer

Price: $9.49 CAD

NYX’s HD Concealer is perfect. The tone works great on my skin, and the consistency is ideal. I’ve typically gone for the lightest and brightest concealer that I can find on the shelf, but this usually results in less overall coverage – so frustrating. Definitely give this HD option a try. The price is even better than a lot of other drug store quality brands that you will find.

NYX Eyebrow Gel

Price: $10.99 CAD

*This purchase is not featured on the receipt, as I grabbed it from the shop about a week ago.

NYX’s Eyebrow Gel may be the product that I’m most excited about. When I turned thirteen, I over-plucked my brows so badly that I barely had anything left to work with. Even many years later, they have yet to get back to their original state. This hiccup has forced me to fill them in on a daily basis, even before it was popular to do so. The thing that I’m always most concerned about with my brows is precision.

I often purchase brow pencils, and finish them off with a pressed brow powder or eye shadow. This brow gel has intrigued me for quite some time, and I am so impressed with the results. I’m able to control the product so well, and my brows finally have that bold line all the way across. Powder simply will not cut it anymore! I feel paranoid all the time that my brows will just rub off throughout the day, but this gel has been able to handle anything thrown at me thus far.

GOSH Darling Lashes Mascara

Price: $15.00 CAD

The NYX display at the location I travelled to was unfortunately slightly limited when it came to eye products. With no mascara options on the shelf, I moved to the GOSH makeup display. I’ve tried a lot of GOSH products in the past, and now knowing that they’re cruelty-free gave me a reason to check out their updated selection. This mascara is great for lengthening and defining lashes – but I’m not super thrilled with the detail brush. It will definitely work better than the brand I used to use (see below), but I do think that I’ll continue to shop for a permanent cruelty-free and vegan replacement.

Here are a few products that I’ve been using over the years that turned out to be cruelty-free too!

REAL TECHNIQUES

Are you one of those people who only buys one makeup brush at a time? I’ve never understood the need to buy a full brush set, until I discovered the Real Techniques brand. A few of the brushes featured here were purchased separately for around $9.99 CAD each, but when you do the math, it makes so much more sense to grab them at one time. I purchased the full set (excluding the blush brush, and the contour brush) for just over $15.00 CAD about a year ago, and I haven’t looked back since. Also, the sponge is beyond the best that I’ve tested. It’s $9.99 on its own, but it’s lasted over a year and a half and it’s still in mint condition. The value proposition behind this company is simple – vegan products are amazing, and they do not discredit the industry.

A lot of beauty bloggers will say that synthetic brushes are better for either wet or dry products, but I can tell you that this set has improved the quality of every product I’ve used them with. This includes: liquid foundations, powder foundations, eye shadows, blush, and contour/bronzer and I have NEVER had a problem. I have yet to see a hair fall out of the brushes, which is super unusual. On top of this, I wash all of them on a bi-weekly basis, which has never put a dent in the overall quality. If you haven’t seen these on the shelf before, I very much recommend ordering some off of their official website. I really don’t see a purpose for using non-vegan brushes when the quality is unsurpassed with a synthetic option.

ANNABELLE

Please excuse the state of these bad boys – they always seem to fall to the very bottom of my makeup bag! As mentioned, brow pencils are great for quick fixes. ANNABELLE has always been a reasonably priced brand, and I have been satisfied with their selection to date. Their eye liners are always creamy, their eye shadows are super pigmented, and their brow products offer a wide selection of colors to match your individual style. I won’t go into too much detail here, but definitely wanted to highlight that anything that I’ve purchased from ANNABELLE has met my expectations.

Although I’m happy to support the companies mentioned above, let’s move onto some of the disappointingly non-vegan and non cruelty-free products.

I’m sure that many of you are already aware that companies such as Cover Girl, L’Oréal, Maybelline, (the list goes on forever) do not offer cruelty-free or vegan makeup. I’ve always gravitated towards these brands simply because they’re available absolutely everywhere that I shop. What I have noticed lately is that their prices seem to be increasing – have you noticed this too? The frustrating part is that the quality of the products are not increasing with their dollar value.

I’m fairly certain that these brands are attempting to compete with the professional and high end makeup companies, but there’s a bit of a disconnect there. If you’re going to raise prices, you should be doing that with more of a purpose – like better quality, maybe? Or even better, because you’re investing in alternative ways to test your products? I wish.

Of these non cruelty-free/non-vegan brands, here are the ones that were in my makeup bag:

MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Mineral Power

Price: $15.00 – $20.00 CAD (depending where you buy it)

This powder has always been my go to. I’ve seen the price increase dramatically from its regular $9.99 CAD, and this has forced me to start rationing my supply. It’s not that I’m cheap, honestly, it’s that I like my money to be well spent. I’ve noticed recently that this powder starts to cake on my face if even the slightest bit too much is used. It also offers literally 3 different shades, the lightest of which may as well be a bronzer on someone with my skin tone. Not a super flexible option, unless you like your face to be 2 shades darker than your neck.

COVERGIRL Loose Powder

Price: $8.99

This product is great for baking your concealer, and it’s super light weight as well. There’s quite a lot in the package, so you don’t have to replace it too often – bonus. I have noticed lately that it can alter your overall complexion a little too much though. I often look sick when I’ve dusted the excess off of my face, and it never seems to absorb properly into my skin. Sometimes I feel like people are staring at my powdery face because it’s so obvious that I’m wearing makeup.

MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Master Contour

Price: $19.99 – $22.99 CAD (depending where you buy it)

I have yet to find a contour and highlight pallet that works for my skin. I know I’m not alone in this, but come on! I’ve given up on so many brands, and this was the last straw for me. This pallet is considered their “light” shade, but I would definitely argue against that. The contour looks so muddy on my face, the blush is way too pink, and the highlight is barely visible. Needles to say, I’ve only used it a couple of times.

COVERGIRL Ready, Set, Gorgeous Concealer 

Price: $8.99 CAD

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this concealer. I’ve opted to purchase it simply because it’s always on promo, but I would certainly never pay full price. On a positive note, it’s the only drug store concealer that offers a shade bright enough to highlight my pale face. Just don’t expect the colour to stay. As you blend it into place, the color gets complete absorbed into your sponge or brush, so best not to waste your time with this one.

QUO Brow Kit

Price: $12.99 CAD

This product was surprisingly great. The wax (for once) is creamy and very useful for brow prepping, and the powder shade matches perfectly. This is actually a product that I’m sad about ditching, as it’s the best powder that I’ve found. Thankfully I purchased the NYX Brow Gel, because proper brow powders seem to be few and far between.

MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Line Stiletto & Mater Precise Liquid Liners

Price: $9.99 – $11.99 CAD (depending where you buy them)

I’m actually really sad to be saying goodbye to both of these liners. In combination I couldn’t be happier with the results, but why buy two when you can just buy one? The Master Precise is perfect for lining the inner corners and the outer wing, and the Stiletto fills the whole middle section of my lid with ease. Since 2007, I’ve spent far too much time trying to find the perfect liner, but it’s now I guess it’s time to move on. I’m excited about the NYX option above, so this will help me during the grieving process.

COVERGIRL Lash Blast Fusion

Price: $8.99 CAD

This is another one of those “meh” products. There are so many mascaras to choose from, especially from a brand like Covergirl, so I often feel like I’m being cheated when I buy one. A “little overwhelming” may be an understatement when you make it to this section of the makeup display. Everyone has their opinion about mascaras, but I’m not too picky. I rarely buy the same brand two times in a row (mostly because I can never remember my previous choice) so I’m just happy that there are endless options outside of Covergirl to choose from.

Well, I guess I had a lot more to say about the beauty industry than anticipated. I appreciate it if you’ve made it to the end of this entry, and I sincerely hope that you were able to take something away from it. It serves my conscience well to know that I’m one step further to my goal: living as a vegan in every aspect of life. What may be overlooked by many can certainly be changed by few.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m thankful that cruelty-free beauty brands and products exist in this day and age. I may have seemed cynical in some of my reviews, but I guess I’m just ready to move on.

Overall, I’m just genuinely disappointed that some of these companies refuse to make changes, and reflect on their negative and careless contributions to the world. You’d think at this point that they might be a bit more receptive to outside opinions.

When considering those same pre-purchase points: brand, quality and price – they can all still be at the top of your list when you choose cruelty-free and vegan costmetics. What I really wanted to express through these product reviews is that you don’t have to compensate. In every case, there’s a better option out there that will create far less harm in the world. So next time you shop, remember to check the label!

I will definitely post an update regarding the fully vegan brands that I choose to support in the near future. I know that my passion for makeup will continue to grow especially when I can feel good inside about my creativity.

It’s so important to think critically when it comes to consumerism. Pushing myself to try new things can be a struggle at times, but it’s worth it in the long run. My opinion is only coming from a place of hope and evolution.

This change that I’ve been yearning for is starting to take effect, and I hope that you will also start to think deeper when it comes to your own beauty. After all, causing harm to others couldn’t be further from beautiful.

Published by Tasha Blake