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True beauty comes from within…literally! If you want enviable, glowing skin, following a vegan diet is a great place to start. But while clean foods nourish your skin from the inside, using a vegan foundation can help us achieve that unblemished look by erasing minor imperfections and serving as a base for other types of beauty products.
Therefore, this is one essential cosmetic no makeup bag should be without!
Unfortunately, the majority of mainstream makeup brands are not vegan-friendly; either as a result of animal testing or harmful synthetic ingredients. You may not be able to pop into the drug store for your vegan-approved makeup, but with a little research, you can find the best cruelty-free foundation for you.
So, what should you look for? What exactly are all those ingredients? Our guide and reviews will make it easier for you to find the right product for your vegan lifestyle.
- What are the benefits of using a vegan foundation?
- What ingredients should I avoid in my foundation?
- What are common ingredients in natural foundations?
- Will vegan foundations work for acne-prone skin, dry skin, or aging skin?
- Can I find a natural product that matches my skin?
- Best cruelty-free foundation reviews
- So what is the best vegan foundation?
What are the benefits of using a vegan foundation?
When you choose a vegan foundation, you solidify your commitment to picking products that haven’t been tested on animals. It’s hard to believe, but in 2017, there are still lots of companies out there performing animal testing.
Here’s a list of just a few of the big-name beauty brands that still test on animals:
- Estee Lauder
- MakeUp Forever
The best cruelty-free foundation brands will also specifically label their products “vegan.” This not only ensures that your beauty product hasn’t been tested on animals, it also means that no animal products or by-products have been used as ingredients either.
Checking the packaging for one of the three main certifiers (see logos above) can help you define which products are both cruelty-free and vegan. However, some of the smaller brands may not have gained certification yet but still produce ethical products, so you’ll have to make your own judgements when shopping.
In addition to the cruelty-free aspect, many vegan beauty brands formulate their products without potentially harmful, synthetic ingredients. Using vegan cosmetics is a big step toward making your beauty routine more natural, which means it’s both gentler on your skin and the environment.
What ingredients should I avoid in my foundation?
There are a lot of potentially harmful additives used in beauty products—way too many for us to cover here! However, there are a few ingredients that you should look out for in foundations in particular. If you see any of the following ingredients included, don’t buy it!
Parabens are compounds used to prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria in personal care and household products. Though this sounds like a good thing (who wants moldy foundation?), parabens are linked to health concerns like hormonal imbalances and the development of cancer. (1)
Women need to be especially concerned: several studies have linked parabens to the development of breast cancer.
Common paraben ingredients are: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.
Phthalates are compounds commonly used as plasticizers or binders, which make products more flexible or durable. In personal care products, phthalates prevent nail polish from chipping, keep hair spray from feeling too stiff, and extend the stability of fragrances.
Research suggests that phthalates are particularly harmful to children and women of reproductive age. Studies have linked phthalates to asthma, attention disorders, obesity and Type II diabetes, autism spectrum disorders, breast cancer and fertility issues.
Here’s the kicker: phthalates are often not listed as such on the label of personal care products. However, if you see “fragrance” listed on your makeup, more than likely it contains a phthalate. (2)
Common phthalate ingredients include: butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), dibutyl phthalate (DnBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-butyl phthalate (DBP), and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).
At one time, mineral oil was the moisturizer of choice in personal care products. Recent research, however, has shown that mineral oil has no benefit for the skin. The bigger issue is that mineral oil is frequently contaminated with toxins. (3)
By avoiding mineral oil in your cosmetics, you reduce your risk of exposure to harmful hydrocarbons. These substances are carcinogenic and may affect our health in other ways that scientists are still researching. Mineral oil contamination builds up in the body and has been found in high concentrations in both body fat and breast milk.
Other names for mineral oil that you might see on a label are: liquid petroleum, paraffin oil, mineral paraffin, and white mineral oil.
What are common ingredients in natural foundations?
The most tragic thing about the continued presence of parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and similar compounds in foundations is that they are completely unnecessary. Natural and vegan foundations provide the same product quality without the chemical load.
Most vegan and natural foundations have three different types of ingredients:
- Minerals – provide skin coverage and sun protection
- Emollients – commonly derived from coconut oil; smooth application and soften skin
- Plant extracts – soothing and protecting; may provide fragrance or color
With that said, it’s hard to make a 100% mineral and plant-derived foundation that has staying power on the shelf and your skin. Vegan-friendly foundations may include additional binding agents and stabilizers. However, the best cruelty-free foundation companies will use natural forms of these products.
RELATED: BEST CRUELTY-FREE DEODORANT | VEGAN MAKEUP BRUSHES | BEST CRUELTY-FREE NAIL POLISH | BEST CRUELTY-FREE MASCARA
Will vegan foundations work for acne-prone skin, dry skin, or aging skin?
In a word, yes!
Vegan foundations may actually be better for problematic skin than standard makeup. The lack of harsh chemicals can mean fewer breakouts, fewer allergic reactions, and more moisture retention. Many vegan foundations also include natural anti-aging ingredients like vitamins C and E.
With that said, you should always be sure to do a patch or skin test when trying any new product. A patch test ensures that you’re not allergic to the product before you put it on your face. If you want to learn how to do a patch test, check out this video guide.
Can I find a natural product that matches my skin?
Many vegan foundations come in the same range of shades that you see at a typical makeup counter. To find your foundation match, you have to consider both the color of your complexion and the undertones of your skin. Your complexion is the straightforward description of your skin on a scale of light to dark, but undertones can be a little tricky.
Whatever your complexion, your skin either has warm, cool, or neutral undertones. When buying a vegan or natural foundation, you need to match both your complexion and tone for best results. In general, you can determine if your skin is warm, cool, or neutral by the clothes that you look best in.
If you have cool skin tones, you look best in blues, greens, and purples. Warm skin tones glow in reds, oranges, and yellows. If you’re lucky enough to look good in everything, then you may have neutral skin. (4)
Best cruelty-free foundation reviews
Now we know why, it’s time to move onto which…
Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation is a long-wearing product with a “satin-matte” finish that looks natural and flawless. While totally matte foundations may work well for some occasions, products that have some shine mimic the natural glow of healthy skin.
According to Tarte, the “Amazonian Clay” in the formula is moisturizing and provides a smooth surface for applying daily makeup. Customers say that this product provides great coverage with just a small amount. Tarte devotees are particularly pleased with how it covers blemishes and other imperfections.
We also love that Tarte Amazonian Clay has SPF 15 sun protection and that this product is formulated without gluten, parabens, phthalates, or mineral oil. It also comes in 25 shades!
On the other hand, there are a lot of ingredients in Tarte Amazonian Clay, some of which you may want to avoid. For example, octyldodecyl neopentanoate (say that five times fast) is a synthetic skin conditioner, while butylene glycol is a natural alcohol that may dry your skin.
Tarte has something of a checkered past as a “natural” beauty brand. Some green beauty experts still question just how “natural” their formulas really are and a few of their products still contain carmine, so you’ll have to weigh up whether or not you want to support the brand as a whole.
That being said, many consumers love this product in particular, hence its inclusion here.
- 25 shades to choose from
- Looks naturally flawless
- Full coverage without a lot of product
- Contains synthetic additives
- Alcohol content may irritate dry skin types
- Brand has had some bad press
Ere Perez – Natural Translucent Corn Perfecting Powder
Ere Perez Natural Translucent Corn Perfecting Powder is made out of corn—how cool is that! This vegan powder foundation can be used on targeted spots to control shine or as an overall foundation. It’s biggest selling point is that it won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin.
Ere Perez’s natural foundation is free of parabens, phthalates, and propylene glycol (another drying natural alcohol). Besides corn, the foundation also includes rice powder and capric triglyceride and triheptanoin. The latter two are naturally derived oils, probably used as solvents or moisturizers.
Customers who use this corn-based foundation love how soft it feels against their skin. Ere Perez Natural Translucent Corn Perfecting Powder works great for setting makeup and concealing dark circles under the eyes. Unlike many similar products, there is no harsh or chemical odor.
The pressed powder comes in a compact with an application sponge. Customers liked the convenience but thought the case and sponge felt a little too flimsy. Some women carry around a stiff-bristled brush to apply this powder, which may not work if you like to keep your makeup bag minimal and light.
Ere Perez touts that their translucent powder foundation is “One for All” and will match any skin tone. Since the powder itself is light in color, it’s not clear how well it will work on darker skin. Some customers found that it had a slightly yellow tinge that didn’t match their cool skin tones.
Overall, if you have light, super-sensitive skin, Ere Perez Translucent Corn Perfecting Powder may just be your perfect foundation. Beauties with dark or cool skin tones may have to look elsewhere.
- All-natural—made from rice and corn
- Sets makeup and conceals
- No odor
- Only one shade
- Slightly yellow tinge
- Packaging not very sturdy
Evxo Natural Coverage Liquid Mineral Foundation
Evxo Natural Coverage Liquid Mineral Foundation contains 90% organic ingredients that are gluten and cruelty-free. This vegan liquid foundation also contains aloe, chamomile, thyme, and vitamin E to soothe and nourish skin.
The finish on Evxo Liquid Mineral Foundation is dewy and semi-sheer. You can choose from 6 shades but all are fairly light (nothing past “medium”).
Evxo advises that the product looks darker in the bottle than on your skin, so give it a try before you decide it’s not a match.
Customers of the brand say this product is long-lasting, applies smoothly, and makes a great base for makeup. Evxo foundation is a favorite of women who want a gentle, natural product for their aging skin.
For those with acne-prone skin, the feedback for Evxo is mixed. Some women can wear it with no trouble, but some found it irritated their skin and caused breakouts. As with any new beauty product, do a patch test first and wait at least 24-48 hours to see how your skin reacts.
Because of the “dewy” nature of the formula, Evxo may be a good cruelty-free foundation for dry skin, but some with oilier skin types struggled to keep it on, even with powder or setting spray.
Finally, customers report that this product has a strong, sweet smell, which some people like and others don’t. It’s one of those subjective things!
- Contains aloe to soothe skin
- Good coverage for aging skin
- 90% natural ingredients
- Strong smell
- May irritate acne
- Doesn’t last as long on oily skin types
Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation
Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation comes in 15 shades, including the full range of light-to-dark and warm-to-cool skin tones. Aloe and cucumber extract nourish skin while vitamins C and E help protect against signs of aging.
Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder is certified cruelty-free. The formula is mostly comprised of minerals like mica, coconut oil derivatives to condition skin, and plant extracts. The only synthetic ingredient we found is boron nitride, a compound that absorbs oil.
Natural beauty addicts love Mineral Fusion for its light, buildable coverage. Customers report that this product doesn’t irritate acne-prone skin. The matte finish photographs well for that perfect, natural #nofilter look.
Women with medium and dark complexions were very happy with the color variety of Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder. On the other end of the spectrum, women with very light or cool skin felt it made them look a little flat. This product may not be the best choice for dry skin: some women felt it made their skin drier or settled into wrinkles and pores.
All in all, Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder is a great pick for normal-to-oily, golden tone skin. We love the natural ingredients, soothing additives, and inclusive range of colors!
- Natural mineral and plant extracts
- Certified cruelty-free
- Buildable coverage in 15 shades
- May dry skin
- Not as many light/cool shades
- Matte finish may not work for everyone
Shimarz Liquid Foundation Mineral Makeup
Shimarz Liquid Foundation Mineral Makeup offers natural SPF through minerals, all-natural ingredients, and full coverage for a flawless appearance. Shea butter softens and may help calm acne-prone skin.
Shimarz’s product contains 90% organic ingredients, which is about as good as it gets for those looking for an organic foundation. Customers report that this product works well on dry, acne-prone, and aging skin—an all-around crowd pleaser!
In terms of consistency, there seems to be some disagreement. While some women describe the application as “silky,” others found it to be too oily or sticky. This is a rich, oil-containing product: whether you like it or not will just come down to personal preference.
The most reported issue with this product is the packaging. Apparently, the pump doles out an all-or-nothing amount, so a lot of customers felt they were wasting product each time they used it. The foundation’s strong smell also turned some people off.
Shimarz offers samples and a “correct shade guarantee.” If you buy the wrong color, they make it easy for you to exchange it for the right one. With that said, this organic product only comes in 6 shades, all of which are fairly light.
- 90% organic
- Smooth coverage
- Works well on a variety of skin types
- Only 6 shades
- Has a strong odor
- Pump design may lead to wasted product
Zuzu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation
Zuzu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation can be applied wet for full coverage or dry for a sheer, natural look.
Zuzu Luxe’s cruelty-free powder foundation was designed to work well on every type of skin from oily to dry. The 7 shades are designed to cover every complexion and skin tone.
The minerals in Zuzu Luxe Dual provide natural sun protection. Customers report that this product applies well either as a concealer or all-over foundation. Besides the mineral content, Zuzu Luxe Dual also contains grapes extract and squalane, a natural lipid that may help improve skin texture.
Based on customer reviews, it seems that Zuzu Luxe Dual works well for people with sensitive or dry skin. Those with oilier skin may find themselves reapplying midday in order to keep their look flawless.
Though most customers are happy with the color-matching of this product, some golden-undertone gals found this foundation was too cool for their skin. Another small gripe that came up in reviews was the odd placement of the mirror in the sponge compartment of the compact.
However, this packaging didn’t keep anyone from buying Zuzu Luxe again!
- Mineral SPF
- Very natural ingredients
- Works great on sensitive or dry skin
- May not match all warm skin tones
- Oily skin types may have to reapply
- Odd packaging design
So what is the best vegan foundation?
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If you want flawless skin without the nasty product additives, our pick is Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder. This vegan cruelty-free product is a perfect combination of skin-friendly ingredients and versatile coverage. With 15 shades, most women will be able to find their match.
The formula of Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder includes aloe, cucumber, and vitamins C and E. Customers report that this product works well for concealing and all-over coverage. The matte finish is polished, professional, and photographs splendidly.
Though the ingredient list gets mostly gold stars, synthetic boron nitride may cause some drying of the skin. As a result, Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder will probably work best as a vegan foundation for oily skin. If you have dry or combination skin, you may have to be more choosy about where you apply it.
If you apply foundation to your skin every day, it’s worth thinking about exactly what this delicate skin is being exposed to. By picking an organic, natural, and cruelty-free product, you’re making a positive choice for yourself and other living things.
The best part: you don’t have to sacrifice on performance. Your skin can still look flawless the vegan way!
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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- Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss | Should People Be Concerned about Parabens in Beauty Products? | https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/should-people-be-concerned-about-parabens-in-beauty-products/
- Amy Westervelt | Phthalates are everywhere, and the health risks are worrying. How bad are they really? | https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/10/phthalates-plastics-chemicals-research-analysis
- Michelle Villett | 5 Reasons to Avoid Petroleum and Mineral Oil in Your Skincare | https://theskincareedit.com/2014/10/16/petroleum-mineral-oil-skin-products
- Perrie Samotin | How to Tell If You Have Cool or Warm Skin Undertones | https://stylecaster.com/feature/cool-warm-skin-undertones-194903/