While beauty brands are becoming more ethically and environmentally woke, still, many test their products on animals and use animal-derived ingredients. Not to mention all the cheap fillers and toxins that lurk in many products; the European Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients in cosmetics whereas the U.S. as only banned 11. Since our skin absorbs 60% of the products we apply, it’s certainly understandable why one would want to use clean, animal-free products without harmful ingredients. As you may be making an effort to eat more plant-based and cleaner foods, now is also a great time to assess what you are feeding your skin.

Ingredients in many vegan product formulations are plant-derived, often containing more antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are good for the skin and body. Also, animal ingredients used topically can often be harsh on your skin and even clog pores. And of course, for ethical and/or environmental reasons, you might want to ensure your products don’t involve animals in any way whatsoever.

The difference between vegan and cruelty-free

As for animal testing (the “cruelty-free” aspect), while in Europe animal-testing for cosmetics has been band completely, the U.S. is still behind and although there are laws that have been introduced, no sweeping reform has occurred. Therefore, you’ll want to look to see a logo, like the Leaping Bunny approval from Cruelty-Free International, a leading certification for cosmetics, on products. Or, look for something that explicitly states they don’t test on animals.

As for animal ingredients inside a product, the best way to know is by looking for one of the universally recognized vegan symbols, often indicated with a “V”—but not all brands display one. If you have to scan an ingredient list, look out for items like gelatin (usually animal-derived unless stated otherwise), beeswax, honey, casein, and lanolin (grease from sheep’s wool) to name a few.

In honor of some of the transparent, cruelty-free and vegan beauty products out there, we’ve rounded up our top picks that we can’t live without.

1. Resurrection All-In-One Serum, Orpheus

Orpheus Skincare’s Resurrection All-In-One Serum is a brilliant anti-aging product that actually works. Its secret weapon the resilient Resurrection flower—which has been in existence for 25 million years—naturally rich in antioxidants and is known for surviving the most extreme conditions. Orpheus uses plant stem-cell science to create pure, clean extracts with enhanced potency. On the skin, Orpheus serves as a protectant from daily pollutants and UV damage while restoring a more youthful look. The formula is ultra-light and glides on smooth with no scent. The bottom line is this: Orpheus makes your skin feel tighter, more lifted and brighter after just one use. And, this one is most certainly for men too. So when your partner starts to sneak pumps after seeing how good your skin looks, you can tell them to get their own bottle. Buy it on Orpheus' website or on Amazon.

Cost: $125

2. Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara, Thrive Causmetics

Since 2015, this all-vegan cruelty-free beauty brand has steadily increased its offerings and now has a giant selection of skincare, makeup and more. But, there is one product that after trying you won’t want to live without: Thrive Liquid Lash Extension Mascara. It naturally boosts lashes to look more dramatic and longer. It also doesn’t smudge and its extremely easy to remove. Purchase it on Thrive's website.

Cost: $24

3. Matte Lip Whip, Beauty Bakerie

The team at Beauty Bakerie continues to produce, stunning quality makeup. Perhaps most impressive are their matte, smudge-proof all-day wear lip whips. You can’t go wrong with any color, but, Fortune Cookie is a true gem. This Black-owned and led beauty brand is certainly sweetening our lives with their clean, vegan-friendly cosmetics. Available at Beauty Bakerie's website and in Ulta stores and online.

Cost: $20

4. Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation, COVERGIRL

You may have caught COVERGIRL’s latest commercials advertising its foundation which they front and center called a “vegan foundation.” COVERGIRL became the largest makeup brand to become Cruelty-Free Leaping Bunny Certified and are now loud and proud about their newfound commitment to making more ethical products. But how does their line of Skin Milk vegan foundations stack up? For the price—only $9.99—it’s worth every penny. It’s on the lighter side in terms of coverage, but you will certainly achieve that perfect no-makeup look with decent cover plus a dewy glow. Skin Milk is part of COVERGIRL’s latest Clean Fresh Collection which specifically focuses on making 100% clean and vegan cosmetics. Available at Target, CVS, and other retailers.

Cost: $9.99

5. Pacifica Products

Pacifica is a 25-year-old ethically-minded eco-conscious vegan beauty brand that can serve as your one-stop-shop for all-things-beauty. They have some seriously low-priced skincare, makeup, body care and more. One of their newer products and our favorites, is Vegan Care Balm, a lip gloss that can also be used for some cheek color or anywhere else you want a little moisture and shine. Another favorite is the Sea Foam Complete Face Wash for only $10; it sports a light coconut scent and goes on buttery smooth removing makeup and thoroughly cleansing the skin. With so many goodies to choose from at an affordable price point, you can stock up for yourself and extras for gifts. Available for purchase on Pacifica's website, Ulta, and other retailers.

Cost: $5-$25

6. Facial Oil #8, EOSSI Beauty

EOSSI’s Facial Oil #8 is the deputing product from EOSSI Beauty. Two female entrepreneurs out of Colorado launched the brand after nearly a decade in the hemp and cannabis business to create an attainable price-point and high-quality, high-concentrate CBD face oil. Packing a number of botanical ingredients like argan oil—which can effectively regulate amounts of sebum on the skin to help treat acne and soothe skin—vitamin E, and the power ingredient, CBD, which is abundant, about 1000 mg of per bottle. People are increasingly turning to CBD, which is a cannabinoid derived from the hemp and marijuana plant, has been known to help with inflammation, stress and pain management, and overall support of our endocannabinoid system responsible for a variety of processes in the body. skin, EOSSI’s face oil will give you an immediate spectacular all-day glow and you may find that CBD will help alleviate some of your skin woes. Purchase on EOSSI's website.

Cost: $49.95

7. SuperHair, Moon Juice

Moon Juice specializes in skincare and targeted supplements for better hair, skin as well as overall wellness and anti-aging. One of their most popular, SuperHair, is a daily pill packed with antioxidants, adaptogens and other micronutrients that promotes collagen growth and supports hair growth. You’ll have to be patient, but in about 4 weeks after using you will start to see results. This one is especially good if you have thinning hair or hair loss. Plus, there are other micronutrients that are good for your overall wellness. Their entire lineup is vegan and they are extremely transparent about all their ingredients, where they are sourced and what they do in the body. Available on Moon Juice's website.

Cost: $49.95

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