If there’s one thing we can’t get enough of, it’s beauty on a budget. More often than not, however, we end up bingeing on cheap products that save us a bundle but skimp on performance—especially in the realm of ethical beauty. Fortunately, the days of combing through our local health food stores for waxy-feeling creams and lipsticks with the color payoff of a dry crayon are over. Vegan and cruelty-free beauty products are becoming increasingly mainstream and are featuring better-than-ever formulas at accessible price points. Best of all, many can be found right in your local drugstores (we are all about convenience at NYLON). Read on to discover the new animal-testing free and bank account-friendly essentials you won’t know how you ever lived without.
1. ColourPop, Lippie Primer, $5, available at BeBeautyIndo.
If you’re anything like us, “extra” products aren’t your thing—liners, primers, and anything that sounds like an unnecessary step are to be avoided with a capital A. However, after trying ColourPop Lippie Primer, we’re officially converts. Lauded by legions of reviewers as the cheaper, cruelty-free dupe of MAC Prep+Prime, it features microscopic spherical beads that fill in lines, smoothing and plumping your lips while nourishing them with natural butters and Vitamin E. The result? A Photoshop-quality canvas that makes lip color last forever.
2. EcoTools, Complexion Collection Mattifying Finish Brush, $8.99, available at EcoTools.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the brush, that a product is applied with, accounts for over half of its effectiveness. Enter the secret to complexion perfection: Featuring a duo-fiber design, and a blend of super-soft short and long bristles that allow for perfect powder pickup and distribution, the EcoTools Mattifying Finish Brush promises buildable coverage and a lasting shine-free finish. Plus, it’s made with cruelty-free synthetic bristles, sustainable bamboo, and recycled aluminum, so you’re guaranteed to feel as good as you look.
3. Hurraw!, Moon Balm, $4.29, available at Hurraw!.
Everything is better by moonlight. This all-natural, raw vegan balm, formulated with vanilla and blue chamomile, has the dreamiest scent, lulling you to sleep while cold-pressed avocado, rosehip, and argan oils prevent aging, relieve dryness, and saturate your lips with vitamins. Bonus: Its light, bluish tint totally makes your teeth look whiter when you wear it during the day.
4. WotNot, Facial Wipes, $8.99, available at WotNot.
We all love face wipes—what’s not to love about effortless makeup removal? Unfortunately, most of the face wipes out there are loaded with harsh chemicals and skin-stripping detergents that end up irritating the skin and drying it out, doing more harm than good—yes, even the “natural” ones. WotNot Facial Wipes are made from 100 percent natural and biodegradable fibers, chock-full of organic oils, and totally free of parabens, alcohols, and, petrochemicals, and gently cleanse and moisturize the skin while removing even the toughest waterproof makeup.
5. Milani, Brow Shaping Clear Gel, $4.99, available at Milani.
Seriously, we can’t get enough of Milani. Known for bringing Italian beauty secrets stateside, this drugstore staple is affordable and cruelty-free. Brow Shaping Clear Gel is our favorite. It whips brows into shape and helps them stay put without looking frozen—making it the clear winner, over the unethical big-name brands, at just a quarter of the price.
6. Wet n Wild, Max Volume Plus Mascara, $4.99, available at Wet n Wild.
Formulated with macadamia, jojoba, and olive oils for max conditioning and D-panthenol for strength, this bad boy pumps up skinny lashes into a dark, full fringe, if a dramatic look is what you’re after. Plus, at less than the price of an adult beverage, you won’t feel too bad about losing it in a nightclub bathroom. No judgment.
7. Giovanni, Repairing Intensive Hair Mask, $8.99, available at Giovanni Cosmetics.
With everything we put our hair through, revitalizing treatments and masks are always at the top of our shopping list. Full of Omega-3 and six antioxidant compounds, this formula features blackberry and coconut milk to refresh frazzled strands, build strength, and tame frizz, all while locking in moisture. And at a cool $8.99, we’re more than happy to make it a part of our weekly routine.
8. e.l.f., Mineral Pearls, $8, available at e.l.f.
If the phrase “matte glow” doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s time to try Mineral Pearls. Designed to color correct, mattify, and gently illuminate all at once, these soft, silky beads are much like Guerlain’s Météorites Illuminating Powder Pearls at one-seventh of the price.
9. Trust Fund Beauty, Nail Polish Remover Wipes, $2, available at Trust Fund Beauty.
In addition to the never-ending struggle of scraping off glitter polish (ugh), the smell of nail polish remover is almost enough to make us swear off painted nails forever—almost. Enter Trust Fund Beauty’s version: Nontoxic, eco-friendly, and plant-based, this formula smells like mint (!), is totally free of gross chemicals, and amazing at removing the aforementioned glitter polish. Try these travel-friendly wipes for on the go changes, or before you commit to the full-size bottle.
10. Lush, Popcorn Lip Scrub, $9.95, available at Lush.
If you’ve been looking for a vegan alternative to Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn, look no further—this yummy, exfoliating scrub tastes just as good, without all the calories. Jojoba and coconut oils nourish lips, as castor sugar and sea salt gently scrub away dead skin, leaving your lips soft, smooth and ready for that perfect application of matte lipstick. A little goes a long way too, so while the pot may be little, it is fierce.