The Ultimate Guide to Cruelty Free Mascaras in 2020
Lashes are totally in right now. The bigger, longer, bolder your lashes the better, right? It seems to be the trend now for so many people to wear falsies or to go out and get lash extensions. Then, there are those of us who want beautiful lashes but also want to keep it simple. Those of us who search for the best cruelty free mascaras on the market.
Here’s the thing, there are SO many options out there. You can spend hours researching and sifting through mascaras and find yourself in a black hole of mascaras so to speak. They all profess the same things – to make your lashes stand out in some way.
We’re not sure about you but the more we learn about makeup and product testing, the pickier we become on what is acceptable. The world has begun to trend towards being more conscious of the products they use, which is great!
In this guide, we’ve put together our top picks for you of cruelty free mascaras.
We feel as though this is an important aspect of choosing the best mascara and there are tons of great options out there that fall into this category.
We have a lot of great information for you, including the reviews of our top picks.
*For UK Mascara customers, please visit our sister site: Best of Cruelty Free UK*
Cruelty Free Mascara – History and Beginnings
When it comes to trying to find the best cruelty free makeup you can’t always take the company’s word at face value. Some makeup brands STILL test their products on animals, despite the demands to stop. You would be amazed at some of the most popular brands that still do animal testing. BIG, well known brands.
The thing is, these brands you’ll see on commercials, in glossy magazines, on billboards, in department stores, and it seems everywhere you look are big names and people will buy them no matter what, so they basically get away with it. On the other hand, there are TONS of brands that have moved to cruelty free and no longer test on animals in any way.
As we do, use your moral compass when purchasing cosmetics to put on your face. Use only cruelty free mascara on your beautiful lashes.
We use mascara clearly as a beauty product but there was a time when that wasn’t the intention of the product. Let’s travel back in time a bit. Mascara-type products date back to ancient Egypt. At the time, they used a mixture of kohl, crocodile dung, water, and honey. They then used bone or ivory to apply the mixture to their lashes. Egyptians did this because they were protecting their souls from evil spirits.
Mascara practices really came into play during the Victorian era. This was a time period in which women spent a ton of time on beauty and looks. Many Victorian women mixed their own mascara, as well as other makeup products. Their version of mascara was made with ashes and elderberry mixed over a flame.
These were all before mascara became a beauty product on the market. In 1917, the first mascara product came out on the market. This mascara product was made with petroleum and black coal dust. These histories are just the beginnings of mascara. It has evolved from there and improved over the years.
A common misconception is that bat guano is used in mascara, but this is actually an urban legend. It’s never truly been noted in mascaras, although guanine (sparkling substance found in crushed fish scales) is used in some beauty products on the market.
The most common concoctions of mascara include iron oxide or carbon black pigment of some sort for the dark color. This pigment is then mixed with some sort of thickening agent. The thickening agent varies across the board but could be something like lanolin, mineral oil, petroleum, paraffin, and candelilla wax. The ingredients are not limited to these items though.
For full disclosure, at one time, turpentine was used for waterproof mascara. This was when waterproof mascara was first being made but this knowledge should make you quite grateful for toxin-free mascaras that we see now.
Below is a quick view of what’s on offer. Further below are our detailed reviews.
Top Picks and Reviews for the Best Cruelty Free Mascaras for 2020
Now let’s get down to business and talk about the goods! We know the real reason you’re here is to find the best cruelty free beauty products to stock up your makeup drawers. Or perhaps, you just need a change from what you’ve been using, and you need some recommendations.
We have a treat for you. We’ve dug and sorted through tons of options to find the best cruelty free mascaras available – and we’re here to share it with you, complete with detailed product reviews.
As a member of the Amazon Associate affiliate program, this site may receive commissions via the links throughout this post, by way of qualifying purchases on amazon.com
Product Size: .4 fl.oz./12ml
Every woman should have waterproof mascara on hand for those days when you know there may be tears shed, or even when it’s allergy season and your eyes just won’t stop watering! This waterproof mascara from Essence is very well-made and it won’t disappoint.
You get a full false lash effect with dramatic volume and the perfect sculpted lash. One of the best things about this mascara is you shouldn’t have to worry about clumps and globs because of the unique fiber brush that has a conical shape.
This mascara is designed to stay all day. When you’re ready to take it off, you should use a gentle makeup remover or coconut oil for removal. This company & product are formally acknowledged by PETA as a cruelty-free mascara.
- PETA accredited company
- Stays on all day
- False lash appeal
- Get dramatic volume and shape
- Waterproof mascara option
- As the mascara ages, it might turn flaky during wear
- Does not hold straight lashes in a curled position for an extended length of time
Product Size: .3 fl.oz./9ml
If you’re in the market for a high-quality volumizing mascara and you can afford to spend a little more on your makeup, this is an excellent option! This mascara from IT Cosmetics does cost a bit more than your drugstore brands but it is well worth every dollar.
IT Cosmetics is a well-known quality brand. This super black mascara is designed to stretch and volumize your lashes to give them a long and full effect. You don’t have to use multiple coats, although you can. You get incredible results with a single coat. Each lash gets specialized attention.
They chose the title superhero with the line “you do it all and now your mascara does too” which seems fitting for the product. This is a toxin-free mascara and one of the best cruelty free mascara options you’re going to find.
- PETA accredited company
- Formulated with peptides, proteins, biotin, lash-enhancing polymers and collagen
- The best volumizing mascara
- Known and trusted makeup brand
- Only one application needed to last all day
- Does not flake
- No clumping when you apply
- If you don’t use it every day, it tends to dry out
- Somewhat expensive compared to similar options
Product Size: 0.2 fl.oz./6ml
Are you ever jealous of all those ladies that have naturally thick and gorgeous lashes? They can use any cheap mascara or sometimes even no mascara at all and have beautiful lashes all the time. Then, there’s those of us who have short, thin lashes and have to apply 6 coats of mascara to even have visible lashes.
Guess what? This option from Honest Beauty is perfect for thin lashes. It gives you extreme length and volume and you certainly won’t need 6 coats to achieve it! This is a mid-priced brand and it’s very well-made. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Honest Beauty is known for their cruelty free beauty products and this is a cruelty free mascara that is even ophthalmologist tested. If you didn’t know, Honest Beauty was created by Jessica Alba. This is a primer and mascara in one, so it boosts length, volume, and definition in a single swipe. This mascara is actually the brand’s #1 best-selling product.
- A best-selling product
- Ophthalmologist tested and approved
- Made without Parabens, Paraffins, Silicones, Mineral Oils or Synthetic Fragrances
- Perfect for short or thin lashes
- Lash mascara and primer in one single bottle
- The wands for both primer and mascara are shorter than normal so may take some getting used to
Product Size: .44 fl.oz./13ml
You’ve probably seen this bright orange bottle in any makeup aisle you’ve ever walked down at your local drugstore or box store. This mascara is readily available and totally budget-friendly and it really is an awesome mascara product.
You never know when you shop the aisles like that if you’re really getting cruelty free mascara or not. The good news is, this one fits the bill! This mascara is designed to give your lashes 10x the volume. It won’t smear, flake, or wear off throughout the day.
Covergirl has been a purse-friendly makeup brand for years and their approach to cruelty free makeup pleases just about any makeup aficionado on a budget. You can buy a 1 or 2-pack and you can also choose from different color options, including black, black brown, very black, and brown. They also have waterproof available as well.
- Leaping Bunny certified company
- Best affordable mascara
- Known budget beauty brand & great American company
- Multiple colors and waterproof option
- Gives your lashes up to 10x the volume
- Comes in a funky orange bottle
- Clump-free application
- Product receipt is inconsistent and sometimes dry upon arrival
Product Size: 3 Piece kit – Gel, Fibers & Lash Comb
If you’re a fan of natural solutions, this is a great option and for what it is it’s not terribly pricy. It falls into our mid-price range. When you’re looking for a toxin-free mascara, natural is the way to go. This option from Mia Adora meets all of the requirements, including natural ingredients and hypoallergenic properties.
This is a 3-step mascara so it may take some getting used to, but the end result is longer, thicker eyelashes that will look like you’re walking around with extensions. It’s beautiful and the steps are very easy. You get 2 bottles and they are clearly labeled for your process. This mascara is smudge-proof and waterproof.
You start by applying a gel that lengthens and adds volumes. It also provides a base layer for step 2. Step 2 adds dry silk fibers to your lashes to intensify and volumize naturally. Finally, you finish off with another coat of the magnifying gel to bring everything together. This company also gives back through donations with every single purchase made of this mascara.
- All-natural ingredients
- Noted in places like Cosmopolitan, Today, Real Housewives of NYC, and Miami Swim Week
- The brand gives back through donations
- North American family owned & operated company
- Does not contain Parabens or SLS
- Uses natural silk fibers for added effect
- Can be combined with other mascaras
- Requires a 3-step process that may take some getting used to
- The fibers could potentially flake throughout the day, irritating your eyes
Product Size: .24 fl.oz ./7ml
Tarte Cosmetics is another well-known brand in the makeup industry. Their products tend to be a little more on the pricy side, but they are high-quality products that rarely disappoint. This option is the best vegan mascara you’re going to find, and it comes in a shiny purple bottle!
This mascara is designed as a 4-in-1 mascara that lengthens, curls, volumizes, and conditions your lashes. There are no multi-steps required. In fact, this product advertises that it increases lash volume by 424% and is clinically proven to do so!
This formula is made with vegan-friendly natural products like plant botanicals and waxes. It’s friendly for your lashes and even adds conditioning, which is not a feature you regularly find. You can’t go wrong with this luxurious mascara option.
- PETA accredited company
- Vegan-friendly formula
- 4-in1 mascara – lengthen, curl, volumize, and condition
- Clinically proven to advance volume by 424%!
- Formulated without parabens, petrochemicals, sulfates, preservatives, oil, gluten, dye, talc, and fragrance
- High-quality luxury brand
- Shiny purple bottle
- Dermatologist approved and recommended
- The mascara tends to be clumpy if you’re not careful during application
- Tends to flake a little throughout the day
Product Size: .25 oz./7.1g
There is something to be said about the use of natural and organic products. When it comes to caring about what you use on your body, looking for an organic or vegan mascara is just as important as looking for cruelty free mascara options. This one from Pacifica will be a treat for you in those categories!
At first glance, this looks like your everyday mascara. It falls into the mid-range price category and the bottle is cute with stars and swirls. But it’s what is inside the bottle that really draws you in. This mascara is enhanced with coconut oil and Vitamin B to really treat your eyes.
This mascara is 100% Vegan and Organic. It’s designed to lengthen your lashes and improve their strength. Also, this is a mineral-based mCheck it out at Amazonascara. It stays on all day and separates and lengthens each lash with a simple one-coat process. It’s super easy to use and apply.
- PETA accredited company
- Natural and organic ingredients
- Simple mascara that works quite well
- Does not contain parabens, phthalates, silicone, gluten, mineral oil or petroleum
- 100% vegan, including the brush!
- Lengthens and strengthens lashes
- Mineral mascara
- Available in black or brown
- Provides your lashes with natural nourishment
- Can smear or smudge in cold or wet weather
- Could take 2-4 applications to get lashes to stand out
Product Size: 0.25 fl.oz./7.5ml
Do you feel like it’s nearly impossible to find a mascara that doesn’t bother your eyes? Everything runs or causes itchiness no matter how careful you are? Well, guess what, we found a solution for you! This option from blinc is perfect for sensitive eyes.
This is an extremely popular tube mascara that is a little bit more expensive but well worth the buy, particularly for sensitive eyes. It has been highlighted in the magazine Allure as a “Reader’s Choice Award Winner”. This mascara is designed to volumize, lengthen, define, and stay on.
The company has gone above and beyond a natural mascara and even incorporated the use of eco-friendly packaging with a recyclable carton rather than a metal tube. This mascara stays on but only requires a bit of water to wipe off at the end of the day. It’s not waterproof but won’t smudge or smear for rain, humidity, or sweat and tears.
- PETA accredited company
- Made in the USA
- Deemed life-proof, stays on for active life wear
- Cleans off easily despite its long wear qualities
- Perfect for sensitive eyes
- Highly rated and called out by Allure magazine
- Company follows eco-friendly manufacturing
- Ophthalmologist approved
- Premium product, premium price
- The brush does not help provide definition to lashes
Product Size: .3 oz./8.5g
One common complaint you hear across the board is that when a person has straight lashes, it’s very challenging to get them to hold a curl. Straight lashes require a quality mascara that will curl them and hold them all day. Unfortunately, this is a feature that many mascara companies fail at.
Not this one! BAD gal Bang! mascara by Benefit Cosmetics is perfect for straight lashes. It’s another option that can be pretty pricy, but we don’t think you will be disappointed with the results. This mascara adds length and volume and uses a brush that will curl your lashes during application.
This mascara is smudge-proof, waterproof, and long-lasting. Once you’ve applied the mascara, you can expect it to stay without fading for 36 hours, which means you can literally go all night! Your lashes will look lush and beautiful for the long haul.
- Lasts up to 36 hours
- Smudge-proof and water resistant
- Volumizes and lengthens
- The best mascara for straight lashes
- Cream-based formula
- Born & bred in the USA
- Allure’s Best of Beauty winner last year
- A bit pricy so just beware that you’re purchasing the real thing when you buy
- Takes a while to dry
Product Size: .44 oz./12.5g
If you want intensively awesome lashes but also want them to have a natural appearance, we recommend trying this option from Stila. Stila is a well-known premium brand that delivers results. This mascara will give you intense lashes with a natural effect.
The brush is curved to naturally form to eyelashes and get a good application over the entire lash while also offering some curl to your lashes. This mascara is designed for intensifying your lashes and works really well if you have naturally long lashes or want a natural look.
This mascara is compared to fiber lash mascara options but without the fibers. The most notable feature is the volume, but this mascara also provides your lashes with plenty of lift and a little length. The curl of the brush is very helpful, and this color is considered triple black for a very dark effect.
- PETA accredited company
- Simple and straightforward with excellent results
- Perfect for naturally long lashes
- Volumizes and intensifies with a natural effect
- Paraben free
- Suitable for contact lens wearers
- Bold and dark color
- Non-toxic formula
- Tends to go on a bit clumpy
- The tip of the brush flares, making it hard to get the corners without smearing
Product Size: .3 fl.oz./9ml
We’ve covered just about every topic available and come down to our last mascara to share with you. What better way to wrap up our top picks than with a popular French beauty brand? Vivienne Sabó features this elegant, lightweight mascara that will improve your lashes and feel like you have nothing on.
Available in black or brown, this is a solid mascara that truly does the trick. It gives you defined lashes with lots of volume and it does it all without clumping or feeling heavy. You don’t have to worry about smudges and flaking. This French beauty secret lasts for long wear.
The wand on this mascara is petite, allowing you to get every last lash and making it so easy to do so. The mascara doesn’t easily smudge but when you’re ready to clean it off, it cleans easily with makeup remover. This company also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
- French beauty secret
- Lightweight mascara
- No clumping or flaking
- Simple mascara that works well
- Defines and volumizes
- Long-lasting and smudge-proof
- The formula is very wet and may take a while to dry
- The lightweight formula doesn’t tend to make your lashes stand out
Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Cruelty Free Mascaras
We’ve shared with you numerous top picks, giving you plenty of categories to find what could be your favorite mascara. When it comes to choosing the best cruelty free mascara, how did we define our ranks?
Did we just pick the first ones that showed up in a Google search? Absolutely not! We put far more thought and effort to the goods we share here than that. We chose some strategic criteria to define our list and then we selected, tested, and researched them all to come up with these select options.
Here are some of the key things we were looking for in the products reviewed here.
- Natural and friendly ingredients – bonus points for ingredients like vitamins, extracts, and coconut water
- Available in varying shades
- Waterproof or smudge-proof functionality
- Comes in a set or uses only 1 step
- Ratings for vegan, natural, organic, hypoallergenic, toxin free, and similar qualities
- Promoted by celebrities
- Safe for use with contacts
- Feasible as a false lash alternative
- Tested by Dermatologists & Ophthalmologists
- Accredited by PETA or Leaping Bunny as cruelty free
- Made in the USA
- Distributor provides satisfaction guarantees
We used this list of strategic criteria as a general guideline. However, you will note that not every mascara meets every single aspect of this criteria. What you will note is that every mascara meets the majority of these criteria points.
The one thing from this list is that not every product shared here are either Leaping Bunny or PETA certified. There are many companies that invest in these important accreditations, but not all do. Importantly, don’t judge the ones that haven’t too harshly. Their primary focus is to keep animal testing out of their manufacturing process. Our primary focus here was to provide you with plenty of options for cruelty free mascara and we stuck to that purpose for the entirety of the guide.
Helpful Tips for Choosing the Best Mascara for You
It’s safe to say that we do not all have the same opinions and preferences. We have different needs and wants when it comes to mascara and that’s why there are so many varying options. Not every mascara on this list will be ideal for every reader.
Our hope, though, is that every reader will find at least one valuable solution here. It would be absolutely perfect if you find multiple ones but if we can help lead you to your new favorite mascara, we will consider it a win!
We thought it might be helpful to share with you some basic tips to consider for choosing your own mascara. These are just a few things you may want to keep in mind.
What’s Your End Goal for Your Lashes?
Choose a mascara that will help you achieve your goal for your lashes. Are you looking for volume or length? Maybe you want both? Then, there are people who have straight lashes or naturally long lashes and their goals are entirely different.
Before you choose a mascara, consider what you want to achieve with your mascara. Did you know that the brush can make a huge difference? For example, an oversized brush gives you full volume while a curved brush spreads and curls.
Lash Type and Preparation
Consider what kind of lashes you have. Are your lashes thick and short or long and straight? What do you do to prep your lashes before you apply your mascara?
Choose a mascara that supports your lash type and will hold. You can use a lash curler before applying mascara but if you need help with the curl you want mascara that will curl and will help hold your lashes in the curled position as well.
Most people turn to black mascara as their go-to, but you can find mascara in many color options. Be sure the options you are looking at have a color that interests you or at least has color options for you to choose from.
Smudge-Proof and Waterproof
Not every mascara is waterproof and that’s quite alright. But the last thing you want is to worry about your mascara smudging because you got sweaty or you subconsciously rubbed your eye.
Be sure to choose something that either won’t smudge or is waterproof. Pay close attention to this detail. Bear in mind, some manufacturers will claim their products are water-resistant. Waterproof and water-resistant are not one and the same. Take this into consideration when deciding what you really want and need to enhance your eyelashes. Sometimes, the mascara just needs extra drying time but it’s best to be aware.
Your eyes can be flashy and bold without spending an arm and a leg. Falsies and extensions are not required to get big, voluptuous lashes. There is literally a mascara to fit every need and eye type out there and you don’t have to use a brand that tests on animals to find a winner.
Good lashes can brighten your day in no time! It’s time to find a cruelty free mascara and to find the best one out there.