3 Best Cruelty Free Eyeliners For The Ethical Consumer

Isn’t it interesting how many eyeliner looks are named after animals?

From the classics such as the ‘cat’s eye’ to bold fashion statements like ‘fishtail’ liner or ‘raccoon’ eyes, our animal friends are well-represented in our language surrounding makeup. 

Unfortunately, the involvement of animals in our eyeliner products isn’t limited to style names.

A 2019 report by the BBC estimated that roughly 115 million animals are subjected to (and often killed as a result of) animal testing across the globe.

This figure includes animal testing for cosmetics. 

The Humane Society, a leading organization opposing animal cruelty, lists force-feeding, restraint, and routine killing (sometimes by decapitation) as common practices in U.S. animal testing laboratories.

Eye irritation tests, where chemicals are administered into animals’ eyes to check for a reaction, are especially commonplace in eyeliner manufacture.

This practice can cause severe pain and blindness. 

As consumers, every time we choose to purchase an eyeliner product that isn’t certified as cruelty-free, we are supporting these awful practices (which, in addition to being cruel, are terrible for the environment).

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

There are plenty of cruelty-free and vegan eyeliner products on the cosmetics market that look just as good as their animal-tested counterparts. 

Today, I’ll be showing you my favorite cruelty-free and vegan eyeliners that are good for your skin and your scruples! 

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OUR TOP PICK

Too faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Eyeliner

My first recommendation for cruelty-free eyeliner is the Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Eyeliner. 

This eyeliner has received a lot of publicity thanks to rave reviews from influencers and celebrities.

However, it’s a special favorite amongst the vegan community because it’s both cruelty-free and vegan! 

The Better Than Sex eyeliner is waterproof and smudge-proof - so much so that it can stay on for an incredible 24 hours! 

In terms of application, the dual-fiber applicator tip creates clean, striking lines and glides over the eyelid with mesmerizing smoothness and precision.

Once applied, it won’t flake like some other eyeliner brands. 

Plus, it’s fully waterproof, so you can watch as many sad movies as you like or even reenact your own version of The Notebook’s rainstorm scene - it’s not coming off!

While Too Faced’s Better Than Sex eyeliner is vegan as well as cruelty-free, which is fantastic, we should mention that not all Too Faced products are vegan.

For some animal-lovers, this in itself might make the product a no-go.

However, if you’re just looking for a long-lasting, high-quality, cruelty-free, and vegan eyeliner formula, as opposed to a fully-vegan brand, this one absolutely won’t disappoint. 

Pros

  • Lasts for 24 hours - Impressive longevity 

  • Dual-fiber applicator - Easy, smooth application

  • Waterproof - Wear it to any occasion, in any weather 

  • No animal ingredients or byproducts - Vegan-friendly 

Cons

  • Not all Too Faced products are vegan - May not be suitable for stricter vegans 

EDITORS CHOICE

Lavera Liquid Eyeliner - Black 01

Looking specifically for a cruelty-free liquid liner? Check out Lavera’s Liquid Eyeliner!

This eyeliner is formulated using all-natural ingredients, so it doesn’t contain any unpleasant chemicals or synthetic ingredients that might irritate sensitive skin. 

What the formula does contain, however, is a whole host of organic oils!

For example, it’s packed with antioxidants from grapefruit extract and olive oil.

Moreover, because it also contains coconut and argan oils, the formula is highly moisturizing and soothing on the skin. 

The liquid consistency of Lavera’s eyeliner makes it easy to apply with a single stroke of the precise dip applicator.

However, the product does smudge easily, so it’s perhaps not the best choice for all-day wear. 

This eyeliner formula is available in black and brown color options, so whether you like your liner bold or subtle, you can use Lavera to achieve your ideal look!

Unfortunately, like Too Faced, Lavera is not yet a fully vegan company, so some vegans may understandably object to buying from the store.

However, it should be said that Lavera is well on its way to being a completely vegan cosmetics company, with 95% of its current range being vegan-friendly. 

So, if you’ve chosen not to buy from companies that aren’t 100% vegan, but love the sound of this eyeliner, watch this space!

Pros

  • All-natural ingredients - No harsh, synthetic chemicals

  • Contains organic oils - Soothing and moisturizing formula

  • Liquid consistency - Smooth, fluid application

  • 100% vegan formula - Suitable for vegans 

  • Available in black and brown - Room for versatility

Cons

  • Lavera’s range is 95% vegan - Not a fully vegan brand 

  • Not smudge-resistant - Not for long-term wear

BEST VALUE

Urban Decay 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil, Legend - Black, Demi-Matte Eyeliner - Long-Lasting, Waterproof Formula

If liquid liner isn’t your jam, you might prefer Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil! 

A darkened waterline can add an extra sense of dimension to a smoky eye look.

By filling in your waterlines, you can simultaneously make your eyes appear brighter and less tired while showing off your bold, mysterious side. 

However, the waterline is a very sensitive part of the eye.

Any product that you apply to your waterline will be in close proximity to the eyeballs, so it’s even more crucial to be vigilant about ingredients here. 

Thankfully, the Urban Decay 24/7 pencil is free from mineral oil, preservatives, and paraffin, so it’s non-toxic and completely safe for use on the waterline.

The product is also 100% vegan as well as cruelty-free, although this is not the case for all of Urban Decay’s products.

My favorite thing about Urban Decay’s 24/7 eyeliner pencil, though, is how creamy the formula is!

With some eyeliner pencils, the formula is far too dry, requiring a lot of pressure to apply.

This product, on the other hand, applies like a dream and stays put all day long!

What I will say, however, is that the pencil is quite difficult to sharpen.

This is partly the natural downside of the pencil tip being so soft.

It’s tricky to achieve a fine point when sharpening the pencil, so I’d recommend it more for smudged, smoky eye looks than precise winged liner. 

Other than that, I really have very little to criticize concerning the Urban Decay 24/7 liner, except that it contains synthetic beeswax, so it isn’t the all-natural formula many cruelty-free and vegan customers will be looking for.

Pros

  • Waterline-safe - Suitable for all-over eye application 

  • Non-toxic formula - No preservatives, paraffin, or mineral oil

  • Creamy formula - Easy, glide-on application

  • Smudge-resistant - Perfect for all-day wear 

  • 100% vegan - No animal byproducts 

Cons

  • Difficult to sharpen - Not for very fine liner 

  • Urban Decay is not fully vegan - Some primers and palettes contain animal ingredients

RUNNER UP

Elf Cosmetics Studio Intense Ink Eyeliner in Blackest Black, 2.5 Gram

Pen-style eyeliners provide a convenient middle ground between pencil and liquid liners.

They’re perfect for executing bold, inky lines and even smudged styles without the mess of liquid product. 

My favorite cruelty-free eyeliner pen is the Elf Cosmetics Studio Intense Ink Eyeliner!

This eyeliner is completely vegan, as is Elf’s entire range of cosmetics.

Elf never tests on animals and never includes animal ingredients in its products. 

A common drawback to eyeliner pens is that they’re more prone to feathering, which is where the product bleeds unevenly due to lines in the skin.

With Elf’s Intense Ink Eyeliner, this isn’t a problem.

The formula is feather-proof, so it won’t bleed or smudge once dried. 

Additionally, this is a fast-drying formula, perfect for those mornings when you need to do your makeup and rush straight out the door. 

If I had to make a criticism about this eyeliner, though, it would be that it’s not super pigmented.

This formula dries into more of a gray-black than jet-black shade.

This isn’t necessarily a problem, especially if you like a smoky eye look, or if you have the time to apply multiple layers to boost the pigment, but it might not be what everyone is looking for from a black eyeliner. 

Pros

  • Vegan product - Free from animal ingredients 

  • 100% vegan company - Elf’s entire range is vegan

  • Fast-drying - Quick application 

  • Feather-proof - Won’t feather, bleed, or smudge 

Cons

  • Not very pigmented - Gray-black shade 

RUNNER UP

INGLOT AMC Eyeliner Gel 77 | Gel Eyeliner Matte | Black Eyeliner | High Intensity Pigments | 5.5 g | 0.19 US OZ

Feeling adventurous? Why not try something a little out of the box - or rather, out of the pot! 

INGLOT AMC’s Matte Gel Eyeliner is, as you might expect, a gel-based formula that comes in a small lidded pot and applicator brush. 

The formula is highly pigmented and very creamy, meaning that a single application will deliver pigmentation bold enough to last all day - especially since it’s water-resistant. 

Unlike some other gel liners, which can feel a little dry and clumpy, this product is easy and pleasant to apply.

It’s also fast-drying, which is very convenient - although it can have the drawback of drying too quickly, requiring faster application than some competitor products.

While Inglot is not a 100% vegan company, this eyeliner is vegan-friendly in addition to being completely cruelty-free worldwide. 

Pros

  • Highly pigmented - Creates bold, black lines 

  • Creamy consistency - Applies easily 

  • Water-resistant - Durable finish

  • Quick-drying - Saves time 

  • Vegan formula - Suitable for vegans

Cons

  • Inglot is not 100% vegan - Some products contain animal ingredients 

  • Drying time can be restrictive - Requires fast application 

Best Cruelty Free Eyeliners Buying Guide

Eyeliner Type

The first decision you’ll need to make before you start looking at individual eyeliner products is which type of eyeliner you’d like.

Eyeliner Pencils

The most traditional form of eyeliner is the eyeliner pencil. Eyeliner pencils are typically easy to work with, and they’re also eminently practical. 

You can take your eyeliner pencil with you anywhere, including on airplanes, without having to worry about liquid allowances.

It’s far easier to apply eyeliner from a pencil on the go and far less messy.

Pencils are also versatile since they’re suitable for both solid lines and smudged looks.

However, eyeliner pencils can sometimes be difficult to sharpen to a point, especially if they’re very creamy, so fine lines and points can be a struggle. 

Eyeliner Pens

As an alternative to the classic eyeliner pencil, we have the newer development of the eyeliner pen.

These liners often resemble felt-tip pens, and they’re used in much the same way as their pencil counterparts.

The difference is that they deliver a more ‘inky’ consistency and look. 

They can be more prone to feathering than other types of eyeliner, but they’re very versatile and easy to apply.

Liquid Eyeliner

Despite being considered by many to be the easiest eyeliners to work with, eyeliner in pen and pencil form can be deceptively tricky to apply!

Often, it can be difficult to apply the right amount of pressure without causing creases in your eyelids and messing up the smoothness of the application. 

If you’ve found that you’ve had this issue in the past, why not give liquid eyeliner a try?

True, it is a bit of a learning curve (I remember the look of alarm on my mom’s face the first time I attempted a liquid winged eyeliner look), but practice makes perfect!

Besides, liquid eyeliner is generally more resistant to smudging than most pencil liners and some (though not all) pen liners. 

Gel Eyeliner

Gel liner could be considered the mustard of the eyeliner world.

No, don’t worry, it doesn’t burn or anything - it’s just that people tend to either love it or hate it. 

The thing about gel liner is, if the product isn’t up to scratch, there’s not much you can do about it.

While there are ways of making a cheap, budget eyeliner pencil or even liquid liner look more professional, a substandard gel liner will always make itself known no matter what you do. 

A huge benefit of gel eyeliner, though, is its potential for layering.

You can build it up over multiple coats, and gel products are usually pigmented enough to be applied under eyeshadow for extra durability. 

Formula

As well as ascertaining whether or not an eyeliner product is cruelty-free, it’s vital to consider other aspects of the formula.

For example, is it all-natural? Is it dermatologically healthy? What about the consistency? 

I would encourage you to purchase natural or even organic eyeliner formulas wherever possible.

With a product that comes into such close contact with a body part as sensitive as the eye, it’s best not to take any chances. 

Plus, natural formulas often contain ingredients with additional dermatological benefits.

Plant-based oils and extracts (like coconut and grapefruit extracts) and can provide excellent moisturization and minimize irritation. 

In terms of consistency, I’d recommend prioritizing creamy formulas in most cases.

These glide onto the eyes more easily and tend to feel less drying as they set.

A potential exception to this is eyeliner pencils.

Creamy pencil liner feels and looks great, but sharpening can be a real struggle if the tip is too soft.

In this case, you will need to consider whether extra creaminess is worth forgoing extra-fine lines for. 

Ease of Use

There are 2 keys to ease of use in an eyeliner, cruelty-free or otherwise: the consistency and the applicator. 

Now, there are benefits and drawbacks to all eyeliner consistencies.

Liquid and gel liners offer the smoothest application, but they can also be messy to work with.

Gel liner, in particular, can be tricky if you want to execute really fine, pointed lines. 

On the other hand, as I mentioned previously, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between maintaining a light touch and applying enough pressure when it comes to eyeliner pencils and pens.

However, you’ll typically have more success with smudged styles when using pens and pencils as opposed to liquids and gels. 

In short, while different eyeliner consistencies are best suited to different styles, all types can cause application problems…

Unless, of course, they’re paired with a suitable applicator. 

It doesn’t matter how good an eyeliner formula is if it’s coupled with a substandard applicator or brush.

You can be using the creamiest, fastest-drying liquid liner in the world, but if the brush keeps shedding its fibers and bending in the wrong places, your makeup look is never going to turn out exactly the way you want. 

For brush tips, I’d recommend dual fiber construction.

Dual fibers (or duo-fibers) deliver better coverage and precision, and because they tend to be synthetic, they’re almost always vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. 

Where pen-style liners are concerned, prioritize pens with finer tips - unless, of course, thicker lines are your thing! 

Vegan Status

While it’s true that not everyone seeking out cruelty-free cosmetics is necessarily vegan, shopping cruelty-free can be a great first step towards wider animal activism and lifestyle changes. 

If you care enough about animal welfare to make the switch to cruelty-free cosmetics, it may be time to consider taking the next step towards combatting animal exploitation in all areas of life.

No pressure, though - everyone’s on their own path, and any effort to minimize animal suffering, no matter how small, is valid.

Besides, even if not all cruelty-free shoppers are vegan, vegans do make up a significant percentage of customers looking for cruelty-free makeup. 

For these reasons, I’ve ensured that all of the eyeliners I’ve reviewed in this article are vegan-friendly as well as cruelty-free.

However, this does not mean that all of the companies who develop and manufacture the products are 100% vegan. 

This doesn’t necessarily matter to all cruelty-free-oriented customers or even all vegans by any means.

With that said, a company’s overall vegan status is important information where ethics-based purchasing decisions are concerned.

The first step towards creating a better world for ourselves and our animal friends is awareness of where our money is going and what it’s being used to fund.

By educating yourself on a company’s practices as well as the ingredients in individual products, you can make more informed choices that better align with your ethical standards, whatever that means to you. 

Last update on 2021-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API