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I went Vegetarian almost two years ago and I decided to go cruelty free with my makeup purchases six months after that. Six months later in the summer of 2016 I decided to purchase non-cruelty free makeup again. Why? A lot of cruelty free makeup companies aren’t available at the drugstore and many cruelty free makeup companies are owned by companies that test on animals. Additionally, many of the ingredients in cruelty free makeup have been tested on animals and therefore, consist of ingredients that have benefited from the ability to test on animals (a fact which many companies don’t advertise). Some of these ingredients are also known to be harmful to both humans and animals. It seemed to me to be a on-win-situation. Still, most of the makeup I purchase is cruelty free because despite my cynicism and research, I do believe in an individual’s power to make informed purchasing power and I don’t agree with animal cruelty. However, I’m not here to say what’s right or wrong, even as I’m strongly considering making the decision to go cruelty free again. There are a lot of factors that go into that decision, including wealth, accessibility, safety, and personal beliefs, which mean that I am most definitely not going to sit here and say that cruelty free is the way to go for everyone without considering all factors involved. What I am going to do is offer some well researched options and allow you to make your own decisions based on what you are looking for in makeup. Each category includes affordable options.
SPF: One thing I will always say no matter what is don’t ignore sun protection. Don’t do it.
Elta MD makes great chemical and physical SPFs and is cruelty free
Glossier’s Invisible Shield is a good chemical SPF that doesn’t break me out, is good for sensitive skin, and is colorless.
CeraVe has as SPF, cruelty free options in a variety of formulas.
I exclusively use CeraVe’s night time PM moisturizer or Moisturizing Lotion. They’re fantastic options that haven’t failed me yet.
Elf has several good primers that are effective and cheap but my favorite is NYX’s Pore Filler. It’s identical to Benefit’s Porefessional and genuinely works.
Nar’s Radiant Tinted Moisturizer has SPF 30 and comes in a variety of colors with a beautiful finish.
Wet N Wild’s Photofocus line comes in 20 shades and looks beautiful and subtle on the skin. My favorite traditional foundation I’ve ever tried. Very affordable
Nar’s Radiant Creamy Concealer is quite beautiful for all over the skin and for highlighting
Glossier’s stretch concealer is great for undereyes and dry skin. Limited shade options.
Wet n Wild’s Photofocus Concealer is another great option for undereyes and spot concealing. Once again, very affordable. Only six shade options. For correctors, try Wet n Wild’s Cushion Correctors in yellow, green, peach, or lavender for your specific skin concerns.
Wet n Wild makes great, pigmented (sometimes too pigmented in my opinion so be careful), and extremely affordable blushes.
Glossier’s Cloud Paints are seamless and undetectable on the skin. A liquid/ cream formula.
Nyx’s HD blushes are my favorite affordable blushes, my favorite being the shade Pink in Town.
Nar’s powder blushes are the best and most impactful blushes I have ever tried.
Also try Bite Beauty’s Multisticks for some highend, cream to powder, mutlitasking color.
Any of Physician’s Formula’s bronzers, but especially the Butter Bronzer. It smells like coconut and is a creamy, powder formula. Unfortunately this line comes in extremely limited shade options (for the most part light and medium).
I also enjoy Wet n Wild’s Cafe au Slay cushion bronzer for a darker, more red tone. And their contour palettes which are a dupe for more Marc Jacob’s expensive contour palettes.
Nyx makes great highlights in cream, powder, and liquid formulas. Highly recommended, especially the Duo Chromatic line.
Elf’s baked highlighters are beautiful if you work with them a little. Scrape off the first layer of product and they work like a dream.
Glossier’s Haloscopes are beautiful and faultless when it comes to minimal makeup. They leave a wet/ glossy look on the face.
Wet n Wild’s cushion highlight is a light pinky shade that is a dupe for Benefit’s High Beam.
Try Essence’s Pure Nude Highlight for an affordable, glow-from-within powder highlight.
Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Powders in any shade are a great setting/ finishing powder for all skin types and won’t emphasize dry patches.
Physician Formula’s SPF powders are another great setting and refreshing/ oil-soaking option.
Bite Beauty’s Amuse Bouche Line is highly pigmented, great smelling, and my favorite line of lipsticks ever.
All of NYX’s lipsticks which come in a variety of colors and finishes. My favorite lines are their soft-matte lip creams, matte lipsticks, butter cream lipsticks, and round lipsticks.
Wet n Wild’s Catsuit Liquid Lipsticks are some of my favorite Liquid Lipsticks of all time, especially the shades Missy and Fierce and Berry Recognize.
All of Colourpop’s lipstick formulas. Highly affordable with limitless options. Seriously, try these out.
Glossier’s clear lipgloss is fu**ing beautiful and isn’t goopy. I love it and it lasts as long as a lipgloss can last.
Nyx’s butter and intense butter lipgloss. The original butter lipglosses are very juicy and come in a variety of colors. Great for nude glosses The butter lipgloss formula is thicker and more intense. My favorite shades are Oatmeal Raisin and Toasted Marshmallow.
I lover both Colourpop’s and Wet n Wild’s lipliners for less drying finished that stay forever. Nyx’s Slide on Lip Pencils are also a beautiful option (especially the shade Nude Suede Shoes).
Nyx and Colourpop make my favorite singles in many different shades and finishes. I also love Urban Decay’s singles for a more expensive option.
Too Faced Eyeshadow palettes (particularly their Natural Eye Palette and Sweet Peach Palette) are my favorites all around. The Natural Eye palette is more cool-toned while the Sweet Peach Palette is warm toned.
Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Modern Renaissance Palette was well worth the money and has incredibly pigmented shadows. The red shades are my favorites.
Wet n Wild’s Color Icon Palettes are a highly pigmented, affordable option. Try Walking on Eggshells for a more natural, but lovely option, to see what I mean.
For liquid I love Physician Formula’s 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum for a more shiny finish and Nyx’s Epic Ink Liner for a more matte finish. Both are perfect for a cat eye.
Urban Decay makes my favorite pencil eyeliners for definition. My favorite shade is a brown called Whiskey.
Eyebrow Pencils and Gel:
Glossier’s Boy Brow in Brown is my all time favorite brow product. It plumps the brows, tints them, sets them, and applies in seconds. I wear this along all the time.
For eyebrow pencils, try Nyx’s Micro Brow Pencil (truly a quality, though not always a color dupe, for Anastasia Beverley Hill’s brow pencils). However, my favorite cruelty- free brow pencil for my brows is Elf’s two dollar brow pencil in Neutral Brown. Their eye brow powder/ gel duos are also fantastic and easy to use.
This is the area in which I have the least experience. All my favorite mascaras aren’t cruelty free. However, I’ve read and heard amazing things about Wet n Wild’s Lash Renegade and Essence’s Princess Lash Mascara. Both are incredibly affordable and I will be purchasing them after my current mascara’s run out.
Setting Spray: Elf’s Makeup Mist and Set and Wet n Wild’s Photofocus setting Spray are great options to refresh and take away the powdery look of makeup. Also NYX’s Dewy Setting Spray to enhance the longevity of makeup.
Brushes/ Sponges: I exclusively use Wet n Wild, Elf, Real Techniques, and EcoTools brushes. All are affordable, as are the Real Techniques Sponges and the EcoTools sponges (my current favorites).
Thank you for reading! What are your favorite cruelty free products? My next step is trying some of Etsy’s affordable, indie, cruelty free makeup brands.
My makeup routine doesn’t change too much when it comes to summer. My normal makeup routine resembles a lot of people’s summer routine: a tinted moisturizer with SPF, loads of sunscreen, SPF powder for touch ups (if I use powder at all), lip balm with SPF (yes, there is a clear theme here), concealer, mascara, lipstick and/or lipgloss, and depending on the day, eyeshadow. I rarely do the full face with bronzer, primer eyeliner, blush, contour, foundation, preferring to go light on face products all year long, especially during summer, but I have some suggestions for lighter wear products that withstand hot temperatures.
SPF: Never skip on this, especially if you have fairer skin (but really no one should skip this step). Elta MD, Cerave, La Roche Posay, Neutrogena, and Glossier all have sunscreen options that work well depending on your skin type, budget, skin tone, and level of skin sensitivity. Think about whether you prefer a chemical or physical formula for your sunscreen.
Base: Tinted Moisturizer with SPF is a summer necessity . They provide enough coverage to even out your skin tone, provide additional, complementary sun protection, and give a glow to your skin. Despite having extremely oily skin, I find the options I’ve listed last a long time and give a pleasant finish to my skin that doesn’t make it look greasy.
My favorites are:
- Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 (my shade is Terre Neuve) because it comes in a variety of shades, gives good coverage, looks very natural, doesn’t break me out (a real concern when it comes to having sensitive acne-prone skin) and the finish is beautiful. However, it is pricey and it is a bit luminous. I do set my T-zone with a tiny bit of powder when I use this during the summer to make sure I don’t look sweaty later on in the day. This is the product I’m currently using and loving right now.
- Dr. Jart’s Gold Label BB Cream SPF 45 because it gives excellent, but still natural looking coverage (especially when applied with a brush), and has a semi-matte finish on the skin. I still need to set this if I want my makeup to last all day but it is rather long lasting. Unfortunately, it only comes in two shades and is pricey, which makes it an unrealistic option for most people. Despite how much I like this, I have to be careful when I use it because the Light/ Medium shade is rather pink on me.
- Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream SPF 30 is a much cheaper option with the least amount of coverage on the list, but it will still even out your complexion rather well. I used this during high school and college and this is the only product my college roommate/ best friend uses on her face (she loves it that much). This product only comes in three shades, which admittedly can make it difficult to work with, but it is sheer enough that a lot of people can utilize one of the options.
Foundation options if you don’t want something with SPF and/or need more coverage:
- L’oreals’ True Match Lumi Cushion is my favorite to wear any time of year and for events because it still looks natural and undetectable on my skin, comes in many different shades, is easy to apply on the go, and can be built up super easily. I wore it for my graduation and it held up for hours. What sucks about it is that it’s not terribly cheap for the amount of product you get and it gets used up rather quickly. I still repurchase it but I only use it on special occasions.
- Maybelline’s Dream Cushion Foundation only has six shades, but it has a less luminous finish than L’oreal if that’s not your thing, is longer lasting (not that I’ve had a problem with the L’oreal Cushion’s lasting power), has all of the application benefits of the L’oreal cushion, and lasts longer produce wise. I still only use it for special occasions because there isn’t a shade that matches me as well as I would like and I find it has more coverage than I want, but it’s still a great product.
This is my favorite beauty product. It’s the only one I find completely necessary and it’s the only one I won’t leave the house without. Putting some concealer on immediately makes me feel better and more presentable, especially since after trying so many, I found the right one. Setting these with the tiniest bit of powder will help their longevity but the Nars option doesn’t really need it.
- I use Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for spot concealing and sometimes on my under eyes in the shade Vanilla. It’s my favorite, holy grail makeup item–my only holy grail makeup item. The shade range is extensive and it provides full coverage without looking cakey and simply makes me happy. I wish it cost a whole hell of a lot less though.
- Wet n Wild’s Photofocus concealer is another great option for both undereyes (I find that the Nars concealer is sometimes a little drying for my bizarrely textured undereyes) and spot concealer. It costs 3-4 dollars and works beautifully.
- Glossier’s Stretch Concealer is my favorite option for undereyes but it’s not great for spot concealing, it’s a bit expensive, and while it provides a natural coverage, it doesn’t cover discoloration completely. I use it because it’s hydrating, doesn’t exaggerate problems with my undereye area, and I enjoy the finish but I do set it with a bit of powder because it needs it or it will crease.
- Physician’s Formula has two great cheap options with SPF that have worked better for more than more expensive versions and don’t break me out. Their SPF 30 Talc free loose powder is useful for dusting on your face when you don’t need a lot of coverage (it keeps the oil away rather well) and there is a SPF 30 pressed powder version that provides a bit more coverage and is easy to use for touch ups. Both come in a few shades but the line could use a more range.
- Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting powders are expensive but they’re extremely beautiful and fool-proof. I’ve used mine everyday to set my undereye area and give my skin a beautiful finish since I purchased it for Christmas. One of my favorite products ever.
Highlighters (a year round, but especially lovely in the summer, everyday necessity for me):
- Glossier’s Haloscope is a stick highlighter that comes in three beautiful shades, is easy to apply, and gives a wet look to the skin. My favorite shade is Moonstone.
- Wet n Wild recently came out with a cushion highlighter that I love. It’s also easy to apply (even easier and slightly less tricky than a stick highlighter) and is very inexpensive. It only comes in one shade though 😦
- Colourpop’s highlighters are creamy, nondrying, and can be applied with your fingers or a brush. Comes in a slew of colors and are cheap price wise without sacrificing any quality.
- Nars makes the best liquid highlighters I’ve ever tried because they have lots of impact but can be subtle as well because they melt into the skin. My favorite shade is Copacabana.
- For powder highlight I like inexpensive options such as Colourpop’s pressed powder highlights, Essence’s beautiful and subtle Pure Nude highlighter, NYX’s Duochrome highlights and their Strobe of Genius palette.
- The only bronzer I like well enough to wear consistently is Physican’s Formula great smelling, smooth textured, Butter Bronzer.
Suggestions in this category are super welcome!
I don’t wear blush too often but I have a few light weight options I love for summer
- Glossier’s Cloud Paint truly don’t look like makeup on the skin and my favorite shade Dusk can double as a blush/ contour for those with lighter skin tones.
- Benefit’s Benetint is a classic for a reason. It’s easy to apply, has a universally flattering color, and packs a punch.
- Nyx’s Whipped Lip and Cheek Souffle functions much like the Benetint it’s a bit thicker though and less stain like), is way cheaper, and comes in more colors.
- Bite Beauty’s Multisticks are a lovely cream to powder option that never looks unnatural on the skin but still provides intense pigmentation
- For powder (which is not my favorite during the summer) I use Nars blushes (insanely beautiful, the best blush formula I’ve ever tried), Nyx HD Blushes, or Colourpop’s pressed blush formulas. All great, smoothly formulated, pigmented options.
- Maybelline’s creamy mattes for a cheap but long lasting formula that doesn’t dry out the lips.
- Bite Beauty’s luxurious feeling, pigmented lipsticks that aren’t matte but still last all day long. My favorite lipsticks ever.
- Colourpop’s Ultra Satin Liquid Lipstick for a liquid lipstick formula that won’t dry your lips out at all, comes in many shades, and is inexpensive
- Wet n Wild’s Liquid Catsuits for an intensely pigmented liquid lipstick that won’t come off and comes in some stunning shades. Seriously, try the red one.
- Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatments with SPF for a tinted balm that will hydrate your lips intensely while looking beautiful.
- For glosses: NYX’s butter glosses or Colourpop’s Ultra Glossy Lips for inexpensive, lovely shine in a variety of shades
Other Summer Products:
SPF (seriously don’t forget that), a makeup mist to help your makeup last longer and get rid of a powdery finish (Elf makes a good one and so does Wet n Wild), a beauty blender like sponge or your fingers for application or a brush if you want more coverage, and blotting papers to get rid of unwanted shine (once again look to Elf for a super inexpensive but effective option).
Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you figure out some good summer makeup options. Leave what you like to wear during summer in the comments!