No Fish In My Lipstick (My Favorite Vegan Beauty Products)

Lots of cosmetics contain things like beeswax and fish enzymes (ew), as well as bone char, albumen (derived from egg whites) and other dairy products. Blech!
Publish date:
September 19, 2012
vegan, vegan beauty products

Confession: My clothes are always wrinkled and I just uncovered my hairbrush in a pile of basement junk where it sat, unused, for the past two years. Considering that I have waist-length hair, well you can see why in 9th grade, my gay boyfriend called me "unkempt." So then what am I doing writing about beauty products?

You see, I have always been fascinated with makeup, but I used to be intimidated by the application process. I was so terrified of doing it wrong that I just sidestepped the entire process.

And when I went vegan three years ago, it was all too easy to enhance my makeup phobia with visions of animal chunks floating around in my lipstick. Luckily, you don't have to eschew pretty products in the name of activism. And in the name of feminine charm (because applying makeup makes me feel sexy in that ready-to-be-bedded kind of way), I have spent the past 6 months cultivating a careful collection of vegan cosmetics.

While many companies call themselves “cruelty-free,” this just means they don't test on animals. This is awesome, but it may not mean they are vegan. Lots of cosmetics contain things like beeswax and fish enzymes (ew), as well as bone char, albumen (derived from egg whites) and other dairy products. Blech! So do some research to make sure you're not smearing dead animal gunk all over your face. Unless, you know, you like that type of thing.

Below is a list of some of my favorite products, which can be found at stores ranging from Sephora to Duane Reade, so they can fit any budget. Because vegans like to pout their DSL and flutter sultry, super-long eyelashes, too. You're welcome.

Urban Decay

This company is my go-to makeup splurge. Here are my favorite products:

Eyeshadow: My favorite colors are Gunmetal (which I rim around my lids for a smokey effect. Hah. Rim.), Lounge, Blackout, Darkhorse, Half Baked and Smog.

Urban Defense Tinted Moisturizer: I am prone to breakouts, and terrified of looking cakey. I prefer minimal foundation so I stick with tinted moisturizer most days. I love this product in Halo, which has SPF 20. Keeps me pale and cancer-free!

Afterglow Cheek Tint: I love Afterglow cheek tint in Bang, which gives me a post-orgasmic glow. I use it on my lips, too!

E.L.F Mineral Powders

E.L.F (Eyes Lips Face) is the most inexpensive quality vegan brand I have found. I buy it at Target and it is so unbelievably cheap. I am a big fan of their mineral powder products. Have you ever noticed how nice and greasy a slice of pizza looks under those fluorescent warming lights? Not so appealing when it's your face. I work in an office with fluorescent lights and so E.L.F's Mineral Booster helps keep me shine-free, even at my 3 pm editorial crunch-time. And when I am craving foundation, their Mineral Foundation in Fair is my standard.


I stumbled on this line (by Salma Hayek!) while bumbling around CVS on my lunch break. It was their lipstick that spoke to me. I've been searching for a good red for a while now -- it's hard to find a good vegan red that doesn't wash me out or make me look like a trampire! So I snatched up Paprika and haven't looked back. It's super creamy, lasts a long time and hasn't ended up all over my teeth yet. Plus it's paraben free and at less than 10 bucks, you can't beat it. I wear the shade in full force out, and blot twice before work to avoid startling my 65-year-old boss.

Zoya Nail Polish

My nails are usually nude, because I always chip them while typing or attempting to play Elvis songs on my ukulele. When I do paint them, I go for a barely-there color since I know “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” will get the best of any brighter hues. Zoya has an impressive 300 shades so I must admit I chose these colors half for their fancy names. Olivia is my favorite name ever and Vivienne because, you know, Pretty Woman.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

Lip Tar: If you're a gloss girl then you need this. NEED. I like Harlot for when I am feeling racy, and Grandma when I'm going for a natural look. Don't let the old lady name fool you. This coral shade is super classy -- more well-dressed older woman than plastic couch covers. I buy these at Sephora or online.

Manic Panic Raven Mascara

This is my go-to black. It doesn't flake and is super-dramatic. I layer it on heavy when I'm going for the whole smokey eye, I-want-you-inside-me type of look. I buy it online.

So what are your favorite vegan beauty brands? Did your 9th grade boyfriend traumatize you by first calling you “unkempt” and then by dumping you on your 15th birthday to date men?