Make-up artist Aisling Kelly's guide to the best cruelty-free beauty

In the words of Nicola Connolly, founder of beauty wellness brand Nunaïa, "cruelty free skincare means skincare products that have not been tested on animals." Seems obvious, right?

There's a little more to it. "Animal testing is primarily carried out at the ingredient level," Nicola writes, "so, while a brand may claim ‘no animal testing’ on a specific product their partners – laboratories, clinical testing facilities and ingredient suppliers may still test on animals particularly if they are located outside the E.U."

"When I first started researching cruelty-free make-up," says make-up artist Aisling Kelly, "I genuinely had no idea what the big deal was. I was naive in thinking that, in a time where we can literally grow humans in a petri dish - surely the make-up giants of the world in a beauty industry currently worth over $400 billion would have the moral courage to test their products on in-vitro human skin?"

READ MORE: Natural, organic, cruelty-free and vegan, what do these terms really mean when used in beauty?

Here, Aisling talks through everything to know about cruelty-free beauty and shares an extensive list of cruelty-free brands to shop.


Currently many of the biggest beauty brands in the world still test their products on mice, monkeys, rabbits, dogs, cats, and more. In China, it is illegal to sell cosmetics unless they've been tested on animals – meaning that any make-up brand available to buy on mainland China has had their products cruelly tested on living creatures before they hit stores.

I know, like me, you might be picturing a cute cartoon-like image in your head of a bunny wearing lipstick and eyelashes. Adorable, right? Not really. A simple Google search will blow your mind and break your heart (just do not research this if you're PMS-ing or on public transport - guaranteed tears). I've since been on a journey - my current personal beauty routine is now entirely cruelty-free and for the last two years I've been replacing items in my professional kit with cruelty-free alternatives wherever possible. Slowly, but surely, it's getting there and I'm reassured knowing that a large (almost entire) percentage of the products I use daily have never harmed an animal.

Contrary to popular belief - you can do an entire face using cruelty-free products without breaking the bank. Similarly, if you're the kind of person who likes to be a bit bougie with your beauty - there are countless cruelty-free luxury brands available too.

READ MORE: Make-up artist Christine Lucignano's guide to foundation with diverse shade ranges

To those who might suggest it's difficult to seek out the cruelty-free brands in the squashed beauty aisles of our small little island: trust me, I've done the donkey-work (although no actual donkeys were harmed). I have spent a long time standing in Boots and trekking through giant department stores Googling 'Is *insert brand name* cruelty-free?'

It can be an expedition but it's definitely getting easier. And the good news is I've made your cruelty-free life a whole lot simpler. Here's an extended list of ethical brands available in store and online on our shores (top tip: keep this link in your Notes app so you have it to hand while shopping!).

• Anatomicals
• Aveda
• bPerfect Cosmetics
• bareMinerals
• Barry M
• Battington Lashes
• Beauty Blender
• Bellamianta
• black Up
• Buxom
• By Terry
• Catrice
• Chantecaille
• Charlotte Tilbury
• Code Beautiful
• Cover FX
• Delilah
• Dermalogica
• Dr Bronner’s
• Dr. Hauschka
• e.l.f. cosmetics
• Essence
• Eve Lom
• Eyeko
• Fenty Beauty
• Frank Body
• Fuchsia Makeup
• Hourglass
• Huda Beauty
• Iconic London
• Inc.redible
• IT Cosmetics
• Jane Iredale
• Jordana Tica
• Kat Von D
• Korres
• Kryolan
• L.A. Girl Cosmetics
• Laura Geller
• Lipstick Queen
• Liz Earle
• Mama Mio
• Mario Badescu
• Mimitika
• Neal’s Yard
• Nip + Fab
• Nude by Nature
• NYX Professional Makeup
• Omorovicza
• P.S. Beauty
• Pestle & Mortar
• RevitaLash
• Rodial
• Sand and Sky
• Sarah Chapman
• Sisley
• Sleek
• St.Tropez
• Starskin
• Stila
• Sunday Riley
• Tata Harper
• the Balm
• The Body Shop
• The Ordinary
• TheBalm
• Too Faced
• Trinny London
• Trish McEvoy
• Urban Decay
• Wet’n’Wild
• Zelens
• Zoeva



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Aisling is a regular contributor to IMAGE Magazine, creating incredible looks for our shoots, lending her expertise to beauty features and breaking down the symbolism behind some of the most iconic celebrity beauty looks on Her Instagram is a go-to source for trending looks and make-up hacks. This Sunday 23rd of September, from 11am - 4pm at The Sugar Club on Leeson Street, she's hosting a beauty masterclass, showcasing two different styles – modern glamour and editorial skin – on two different skin tones. Every attendee will receive an exclusive cruelty-free goodie bag, with cult hero products from Kat Von D, Cover FX, Soapbrows, Pro One Cosmetics, iGlow and more. There will also be exclusive discount codes and vouchers for more cruelty-free brands.

Buy limited tickets to Aisling Kelly's make-up masterclass this Sunday here.

Featured image by @katvondbeauty.

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