Affordable cruelty-free beauty

Photo by Laurence Brisson Dubreuil / Graphic by @sundaeghost

The global cosmetics market will reach a value of US $863 billion by 2024, according to a report from Zion Market Research. 

Let me say that again: 863. Billion. Dollars.

I might sound surprised, but I really shouldn’t be. The average foundation from Sephora costs somewhere between $45 to $60, for crying out loud. To top this, social media and influencer culture mean that, nowadays, we’re being advertised to from every angle.

Thankfully, as the cosmetics market has grown, so has the demand for cruelty-free beauty products. In recent years, major brands such as CoverGirl and Glossier have become Leaping Bunny certified, meaning they do not test on animals at any point in their manufacturing process, distribution or sale. A brand doesn’t technically have to be Leaping Bunny certified in order to be cruelty-free, but the certification can serve as a useful tool for consumers.

Despite all this, there still aren’t as many cruelty-free brands as you might think. While many brands don’t involve animal testing in their manufacturing process, they still sell their products in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law. Whether they care to admit it or not, these companies profit from practices of animal cruelty, and China is no small market.

Recently, I took a long, hard look at my beauty collection and decided to do some major decluttering. Left with only the essentials, I vowed to replace them with alternatives that were a) cruelty-free and b) affordable. Easy, right?

Not so much. Sadly, finding quality cosmetics that are both cruelty-free and affordable isn’t always easy. However, after some serious digging, I’ve managed to find some cheap, cruelty-free items in makeup, skincare and haircare. I even made a list! I compared the cost of each of these products to their best selling equivalent at Sephora. These products might not necessarily work in the exact same way, but you get the idea.



Essence get BIG! LASHES volume BOOST mascara — $3.99 for 12 ml


Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara — $32 for 8 ml

This mascara is great for adding volume to my sad, short lashes. I also love that it’s clump-free and doesn’t transfer to my under-eye!


Eyebrow pencil: 

Covergirl Easy Breezy Brow Micro-Fine + Define Pencil — $8.99 for 0.09 g


Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define — $32 for 0.08 g

This eyebrow pencil is amazing for drawing in precise lines that add definition and texture to my sparse brows until I look like friggin’ Brooke Shields (just kidding, I wish). I find that some brow products are either too waxy or too creamy, and this one sits perfectly in between.



Annabelle Perfect Cream Blush — $10.99 for 6.2 g


NUDESTIX Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze Stick — $38 for 7 g

This blush is the SHIT. I seriously cannot get over how much I love it. It is so blendable and natural looking, and also looks amazing as a lipstick. For real, go buy this blush.


Hyaluronic acid serum: 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 — $6.80 for 30 ml


Caudalie Vinosource SOS Deep Hydration Serum — $64 for 30 ml

Hyaluronic acid is an amazing ingredient for dehydrated skin like mine. It draws in moisture to the skin, improving overall texture and plumping fine lines (which yes, I am already starting to notice). I’ve tried all kinds of fancy hyaluronic serums, and this product from The Ordinary works just as well, for a fraction of the price.


Argan oil: 

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil — $6.80 for 30 ml


Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil — $64 for 50 ml

Argan oil does an amazing job of keeping my skin soft and supple without clogging my pores. It’s an awesome source of vitamin E that can also work wonders for your hair! Just a heads up — argan oil has a weird smell to it sometimes, which is totally normal. You’ll get used to it.



Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Shampoo  — $11.49 for 385 ml


Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo — $47 for 473 ml

This shampoo is great because it’s sulfate-free, meaning it doesn’t dehydrate my extremely thick, dry hair. The added moisture also helps bring out my waves and curls, which I love.



Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Conditioner  — $11.49 for 385 ml


DevaCurl One Condition Original Daily Cream Conditioner — $32 for 355 ml

Like its shampoo equivalent, this conditioner is great for those with wavy or curly hair that tends to be on the dry side. It’s silicone-free, which means there is very little product buildup on the hair. Product buildup tends to weigh curls down and make your hair look limp and dull. Oh, and it also smells amazing.


Note: Maui Moisture is owned by the parent company Johnson & Johnson, which does sell some products in mainland China.

Photo by Laurence B.D. / Graphic by @sundaeghost

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