Head to Toe in Ethical Beauty: The Best High End, Cruelty-Free Brands

You might not expect when you create that perfect Kim K contour, that a bunny or a beagle was also once made up in your Benefit brows, Mac lips and Estee Lauder foundation to check for irritants and reactions.

Photo cred: Drunk Elephant

Animal testing is the underbelly of an industry that is worth billions of dollars and crucial to the economy. Countless affordable and high-end brands like L’Oréal, Rimmel, Chanel and Clinique continue to test their products or ingredients on animals (or allow others to do so on their behalf), or sell their products in China, where animal testing is a legal prerequisite to enter the market.

Becoming aware of the prevalence of animal testing in the beauty industry and making the conscious decision to kick cruel companies can be daunting for any beauty addict or rookie. But these companies prove that you can have high-end beauty without supporting cruelty towards baby bunnies and beautiful beagles!

Drunk Elephant

Every vlogger with a lighting rig will tell you that a good makeup day is only possible with a stringent skincare regime. Look no further than the pretty pastels offered by Drunk Elephant Skincare! Founded in 2012 by Tiffany Masterson, Drunk Elephant offers natural, non-fragrant skincare that is designed, tested and made in the USA

The products all lack the Tiffany-dubbed ‘suspicious six’ – silicones, chemical screens, sensitising colourants or perfumes, Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), essential oils and drying alcohols. The quirky name of Drunk Elephant was apparently given after the legend that scandalous elephants eat fallen fruit from Marula trees, which then ferments in their bellies and makes the elephants a lil’ bit tipsy!

Drunk Elephant is available at Mecca Maxima and www.mecca.com.au.


Hourglass is the epitome of high-end cruelty free beauty. Founded in 2004, Hourglass Cosmetics is the crossroads meeting of science, ethics and style. If you’ve ever seen an Instagram flat-lay, you probably caught a glimpse of the picture-perfect Ambient Lighting palette nestled in between other chic brands.

Not only does Hourglass provide instagrammable makeup, they recently released a stylish vegan leather makeup clutch that supports the Nonhuman Rights Project – a nonprofit organisation that aims to change legislation that determines animals as ‘property’.

Hourglass Cosmetics are available at Mecca Maxima, Mecca Cosmetica and via www.mecca.com.au.

Cover FX

The masters of complexion, Cover FX is the vegan brand that was initially designed as a prescription-based product that assisted patients with skin conditions. Cover FX is famed for it’s 40-shade high-coverage foundation, which caters to the lightest and darkest skin tones ever matched by co-founder Victor Casale.

The little bottle of blinding highlight that is the Custom Enhancer Drops are a favourite of beauty gurus and celebrity YouTubers alike.

Cover FX is available at Sephora and www.sephora.com.au.


The birthchild of celebrity hair stylist Jen Atkin, Ouai (apparently pronounced ‘way’, as in the casual form of the French affirmation) is loved by the likes of the Kardashians and the Hadids, as well as everyone’s universal spirit animal, Chrissy Teigan.

The Ouai ethos are rooted in sulphate-free products with minimalist packaging that get the job done without a glam squad, for busy women that are ‘grounded, effortless, smart and cool’.

Ouai is available at Sephora and www.sephora.com.au.

While much of the world moves away from animal testing, China proves to be the last and most stubborn domino to topple. Interestingly, a lab called MatTeck in Massachusetts grows synthetic human skin using surgical waste and sells it to cosmetics companies. This synthetic skin offers a kinder and smarter alternative to animal testing as human skin yields more accurate results!

What are your favourite cruelty-free brands and products? Let us know in the comments below!