The MECCA guide to vegan-friendly makeup

Here at MECCA, we know how important it is to have the choice to buy the beauty that reflects who you are and the things you care about – and that includes vegan and vegan-friendly makeup. No longer do you have to hunt around and devour ingredient lists to find the vegan-friendly options out there. But it can be a little overwhelming to figure out where to start, so we’ve rounded it all up for you in this expert guide. Find out exactly what vegan (and vegan-friendly) makeup is, what the difference is between all the terms used to describe vegan-friendly makeup, and our top picks!

I didn’t even know that makeup couldn’t be vegan – so, what is vegan makeup?

Vegan-friendly products are made without ingredients derived from animals and/or animal by-products. They’re just like the beauty you already know and love, but without any ingredients that come from animal sources.

But what kind of ingredients in beauty aren’t vegan? Some common ones include dairy, honey, carmine, marine collagen, silk and snail extracts. Other ingredients can be derived from either animal or vegan sources, such as lactic acid, squalane, biotin and peptides. These ingredients have many benefits in beauty products, but there are also fantastic vegan alternatives out there if you’re looking for a change.

What’s the difference between vegan, vegan-friendly and cruelty-free beauty?

There are so many different terms out there to describe ingredients that it can be confusing. Especially with all the choices there are in the beauty space these days – we don’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed. So, to help, here’s our simple guide to some of the terms used to describe vegan-friendly beauty.

The term vegan-friendly describes products that are free from ingredients derived from animals and/or animal by-products. While the term vegan is similar, it is used to describe brands, rather than individual products. For a brand to be described as vegan, all the products they create must be made without animal-derived ingredients or by-products. In contrast, a vegan-friendly brand may include products are both vegan and non-vegan.

If you value vegan and vegan-friendly beauty, you might also be interested in whether the products you are using are cruelty-free. Cruelty-free beauty refers to brands that don’t test their products on animals. At MECCA, we require brands to also be cruelty-free in order to be represented as vegan or vegan-friendly.

Where do I start with vegan makeup?

Now that we’re done with the definition lesson (the hard part is over!), you might be wondering... where do I start? The good news is that finding vegan-friendly makeup doesn’t have to be difficult. With the broad range of vegan-friendly makeup available, it’s easy to find vegan-friendly products for every step in your makeup routine.

But while it might not make sense to suddenly switch out all the products you’re currently using and loving (one of the most sustainable thing you can do is finish the products you already have!), if vegan values are something that matter to you, then next time you hit pan on your favourite blush or your mascara is all dried up, you might want to try picking from our range of vegan-friendly makeup. We’ve made it easy and rounded up our favourites for a full face of makeup (sans animal-derived ingredients).

What are the best vegan-friendly makeup products…

For face?

A dewy base is the perfect canvas for a full face of makeup, and Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primerizer+ Hydrating Primer is our vegan-friendly pick for a hydrating primer, packed full of nourishing ingredients like algae, triple hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. For foundation, bareMinerals has been in the vegan-friendly makeup game for many years – and their Original Loose Foundation SPF15 is a cult favourite. This mineral powder foundation helps to promote clearer, healthier-looking skin over time, and wears all day without clogging pores or settling into fine lines. Buff in with a flat-top brush (such as Morphe’s V100 – Flat Top Primer and Foundation Brush, launching at MECCA on August 2) for customisable coverage and an effortless, natural finish.

Conceal blemishes and dark spots with RMS Beauty’s “Un” Cover-up, a silky concealer specifically formulated to enhance the natural look of your skin by providing radiant coverage (whilst nourishing with jojoba oil, coconut oil and cocoa seed butter). Set with the By Terry Hyaluronic Pressed Hydra-Powder, a matte-yet-hydrating powder infused with hyaluronic acid, for smooth, glowing under-eyes.

For cheeks?

Lucky for your cheeks, the MECCA MAX Off Duty Contour Stick is vegan (given the entire MECCA MAX brand is, in fact, vegan!), making it easy to swipe on for effortless definition. Up the sunkissed glow with the Hourglass Ambient® Lighting Bronzer, a crowd favourite for diffused, bronzed radiance. And for all your blush needs, Ere Perez’s Carrot Colour Pot is a one-stop shop for vegan-friendly cheeks and lips, with a balmy, carrot-infused formula that adds colour and hydrates.

For eyes and brows?

Kosas are fast becoming a favourite of the TikTok world, with their plant-derived, innovative range of products. Their 10-Second Eye Gel Watercolor Eyeshadow is no exception. This vegan-friendly, water-based gel comes in six dimensional shades, to add sheen and colour to any look (without the glitter). Or if bolder, brighter colour is more your vibe, the new MECCA MAX Zoom Shadow Sticks are creamy, long-lasting formulas that can help you achieve just about any look in seconds.

Further define your eyes with the ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara, a gentle, lash-loving mascara that’s formulated with naturally derived ingredients for lengthened, thickened (and hydrated!) lashes. And for your brows, keep on the defined-but-natural train with the Rose Inc Brow Renew Enriched Eyebrow Shaping Gel, a squalane-infused, sculpting brow gel.

For lips?

If you’re looking for subtle, just-kissed lips, keep it simple by reusing the Ere Perez Carrot Colour Pot on your lips as well as your cheeks. But if you’re looking to add a real pop of pigment to your pout, the Westman Atelier Lip Suede is a luxe mini palette packed with four vibrant shades in matte rouge tones (and plant-derived, nourishing ingredients). Whether using a brush or your fingers, just one shade or customising with a couple, or even adding to your cheeks for a matching flush, this multitasker will quickly become a must-have.

Now you’ve got your vegan-friendly makeup wishlist, book in to learn how to apply your full face in a (redeemable!) 1:1 MECCA Makeup Lesson.


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