Why should you choose ethical makeup brands?

Kateryna argues for the importance of choosing ethical makeup brands.

When thinking of the sustainability of the makeup we use, the first thing one should consider is whether the brand is cruelty free or not. However, it is often the case that brands advertise themselves as cruelty-free,  but are in fact are owned by larger corporations that are not cruelty free, and as a result, by purchasing their products, one still sponsors the industry of cruelty.

Furthermore, ethical and sustainable makeup is about more than cruelty-free policies. Ethical Consumer Magazine has produced a report and awarded ratings out of twenty to over forty popular drugstore makeup brands. It takes various factors into account, including the impact the brand’s production process makes on the environment, whether it’s cruelty-free and vegan, and what sort of labour market it is involved in. Unfortunately, no brands got the perfect result, but these results are certainly unexpected.

“Unfortunately, no brands got the perfect result.”

When one thinks of the most actively anti-cruelty and vegan makeup brand, Lush certainly comes to mind, but despite its fame, this company did not make it the top of the list – it is in the tenth place. The top brand is Odylique, having scored 17.5 out of 20. NYX – a more popular brand – is the seventh, scoring the rating of 14 out of 20, although it is still owned by a parent company L’Oreal which does continue to test on animals. The brands at the very bottom of the rating table include Sleek, Soap & Glory, No.7 and Superdrug, all of them falling on the basis of animal testing ratings.

Animal testing is banned in the UK, but many countries in the world still allow it, and it is important to research brands to ensure that not only do they not test on animals, but also don’t trade with suppliers that do. Vegan makeup is a bonus too, since it means a reduced carbon footprint and that no animal products are used in production process.

“It makes sense to purchase Fairtrade makeup.”

Secondly, it makes sense to purchase Fairtrade makeup products to ensure one does not contribute to low-paid labour practices around the world. Buying Fairtrade means that the people producing the makeup you use are paid fair wages. Lastly, it is always good to look for organic cosmetics, since it means that your face is not exposed to unnecessary chemicals that not only harm our health, but also contribute to world pollution.

For makeup brands that are not based in the UK, it is helpful to check websites like, where it is easy to look up how ethical any brand is. The website provides detailed reasoning as why a particular company is or is not sustainable, and shows ratings for all the needed parameters (e.g. use of palm oil, commitment to zero deforestation, pollution levels, etc.). Certain brands scoring well on this website are also sold in the UK, such as Too Faced and Urban Decay, and although falling on a slightly pricier side of the spectrum, are satisfactory due how long they last, besides their sustainability and high quality.

Kateryna Vynohradska 

Featured Image courtesy of Youssef Hanna via Flickr. Image license found here.

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