Of all makeup products, buying a foundation takes the most time and effort. You must check its shade, coverage, finish, and ease of application to ensure you’re making the right purchase.
But when was the last time you checked the ingredients of a foundation? You probably never did!
Checking ingredients is not on the ‘how to find the right foundation’ list for most people. But it should be for vegans because not all foundations are vegan.
Fortunately, there are many vegan options, too.
I have shortlisted some of the best vegan foundation options to make finding them easier. But first, it’s important to know why not all foundations are vegan.
What Makes Foundation Non-Vegan?
The simplest answer is – animal ingredients.
But what are those animal ingredients, you may ask? So, here’s a non-exhaustive list of animal ingredients commonly used in foundations, making them unsuitable for vegans:
- Beeswax – Obtained from the honeycomb, beeswax may not necessarily have animal ingredients in it, but it is classified as non-vegan due to the harm its extraction procedure causes to bees. It is used as a thickener and emollient in many foundations.
- Amino Acids – These may be plant-based but often derived from animal sources. Animal-based amino acids appear on the label as Sodium Aspartate, Potassium Aspartate, Glutamine, Glutamic Acid, Cystine, and Tyrosene. In foundations, they are used as skin conditioning agents.
- Lecithin – A waxy substance used as an emulsifying agent and a skin conditioner in foundations, can come from a variety of sources but is often taken from eggs and soybeans in the commercial industry. Lecithin derived from soybeans is listed as Soybean Lecithin on labels. If it’s just Lecithin on your foundation label, it’s most likely taken from eggs. Animal-derived lecithin can also appear with the name Choline Bitrate.
- Hyaluronic Acid – Known for its hydrating properties, hyaluronic acid is a highly sought-after ingredient in the skincare and cosmetics industry. Though it can be synthetic and plant-based, natural hyaluronic acid often comes from an animal source, i.e., rooster combs. Look for the terms Sodium Hyaluronate, Hylan, Hyaluronate Sodium, and Acide Hyaluronan on your foundation label. If it has any of these, it’s non-vegan because all these are the names for animal-derived hyaluronic acid.
- Squalene – Used in many foundations for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties, squalene comes from shark liver.
- Tallow – A fatty substance used as an emollient in foundations, Tallow comes from animal carcasses, which may come anywhere from zoos and animal shelters to labs and slaughterhouses. Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Lauric Acid, and Tallow Fatty Alcohol are all different names (forms) of tallow. Vegan alternatives to tallow can be Japan (or Japanese) Tallow, Vegetable Tallow, and Ceresin.
- Guanine – If the foundation you’re considering buying promises a sparkly or shimmery finish, you should check its label for guanine. A widely used ingredient in the beauty industry, guanine is made from fish scales.
7 of the Best Vegan Foundations
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best vegan options available in the foundation category to help you choose a product that’s not just ethical and animal-free, but is also good quality, so you get the best value for your money:
All the foundations on our list are vegan and cruelty-free, but some of them do not come from 100% vegan brands. I will mention it in the details, so you can buy a vegan foundation that best meets your criteria.
1. E.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation – Best Vegan Drugstore Foundation (LINK)
Drugstore beauty brands are known for their affordability. But when it comes to e.l.f, you can expect a lot more. It’s a drugstore brand that goes the extra mile to create products that aren’t just easy on the wallet but are also good quality, vegan, and cruelty-free. Its Flawless Finish Foundation is no exception.
Featuring an oil-free, lightweight formula, the e.l.f. vegan foundation offers super smooth coverage and (as it claims) a flawless, semi-matte finish. The coverage is light but buildable, making it a perfect foundation for both everyday wear and full glam makeup.
With glycerin in it (don’t worry; it’s not from animals), the foundation is deeply moisturizing and blends beautifully, giving a natural look.
E.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation is also free of toxins – sulfates, parabens, and phthalates – and comes with SPF 15. What else do you want?
2. Smashbox Studio Skin 24-Hour Hydra Foundation – Best Long-Lasting Vegan Foundation (LINK)
If you spend a lot of time outdoors and are searching for a foundation that stays put throughout the day, looking as fresh as when you first applied it, head to Smashbox Studio’s isle on your next beauty store visit and ask for their Studio Skin 24 Hour Hydra Foundation.
With buildable coverage, a powdery matte finish, and a good dose of moisture from hyaluronic acid, it’s the perfect choice for those who wear foundation regularly for extended hours. Hyaluronic acid keeps your skin hydrated without making your face look oily.
Smashbox Studio is known for making professional-quality makeup products that can withstand harsh lighting and extended photoshoots, so you can expect their foundation to stay put and fresh the whole day (just what the name claims)
Smashbox Studio isn’t a 100% vegan brand. However, it’s completely cruelty-free. This particular product is also oil-free, paraben-free, and phthalates-free. Its super smooth formula ensures easy application and great blending. Smashbox Studio is also a fragrance-free vegan foundation. What’s not to like about it?
3. Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation – Best Vegan Foundation for Oily Skin (LINK)
Finding a good foundation can be tricky for those with oily skin, and it often takes quite a bit of trial and error to find one that doesn’t make your face greasy after some time. If you or someone you know is facing the same struggle, you must try the Blur Liquid Matte Foundation by Milk Makeup.
Famously categorized as a cool girl brand, Milk Makeup offers a 100% vegan, cruelty-free, clean cosmetics line, including this lightweight foundation.
Often listed by experts as the best vegan matte foundation for oily skin, it helps you get rid of that pesky greasy T-zone and gives a flawless matte finish that lasts for hours.
The matte finish may be its primary highlight, but it’s not the only thing this Milk Makeup vegan foundation offers. It’s also moisturizing and good for the skin.
The foundation contains vitamin E, which keeps your skin moisturized, and bilberry extract, which contains antioxidant properties, helps prevent and fight against free-radical damage. It’s also silicone-free.
This Milk Makeup vegan foundation is manufactured with a special blend of coconut waxes and blurring microspheres to ensure smooth application, seamless blending, and good coverage for skin imperfections.
The water-based, oil-free formula of this vegan and cruelty-free liquid foundation helps prevent the cakey look and gives a nice natural finish with full coverage.
4. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Flit’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation – Best Vegan Foundation for Oily Skin (LINK)
The entire cosmetic range of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna is fabulous. But I particularly love this foundation – for more reasons than one. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, long-lasting, and comes in 50+ shades.
If not for any other reason, you gotta love this product for its inclusive shade list. It’s just incredible (other brands should take notes).
The vegan foundation offers a soft, matte, natural finish while blurring or hiding the appearance of pores, making your skin look flawless. Living up to its claim, the foundation stays put for several hours.
Another incredible characteristic of this vegan foundation by Fenty Beauty that users rave about is its quality of adapting to the weather. It doesn’t excessively moisturize your skin or dry it out. There’s got to be some real science behind the formula. But whatever it is, we love it.
Among other animal-free ingredients, the foundation contains papaya and pineapple extracts that help soothe and brighten the skin. I can’t find any reason not to love this foundation.
But what may be a bummer for some is that Fenty Beauty isn’t a 100% vegan brand. This particular product, however, is vegan, and the brand is completely cruelty-free.
5. INIKA Organic Liquid Foundation – Best Vegan Foundation for Dry Skin (LINK)
It’s not only people with oily skin that struggle to find the right foundation, but those with dry skin are also in the same boat.
Dull, dry, dehydrated, patchy skin is the biggest obstacle to getting a smooth finish. It is this type of skin that you often see foundation cracking on, which looks BAD.
If this sounds like your foundation story, get yourself the INIKA Organic’s Liquid Foundation. It’s pricier than other options on our list but totally worth spending on for those with dry skin.
Think of a super-rich moisturizer turned into a foundation – that’s what users and experts say INIKA Organic’s vegan liquid foundation is.
Made with a 100% vegan natural formula, the foundation is packed with several trusted moisturizing and healing ingredients of the skincare industry so that you can expect good results.
Some of its hero ingredients include aloe vera, avocado, green tea, hyaluronic acid, cocoa, shea butter, vitamin E, and rosehip oil.
INIKA’s organic vegan foundation not only improves the appearance of your skin from the outside but also delivers a good boost of beneficial ingredients deep into the skin to promote healing and hydration from within.
Do your dry, dehydrated skin a favor by purchasing this super luxe certified organic vegan foundation from INIKA Organic.
6. Ere Perez All Natural Oat Milk Foundation – Best Vegan Foundation for Dry Skin (LINK)
Need a hydrating vegan foundation for your dry skin but can’t afford the one from INIKA? Here’s a more affordable alternative for you.
You might not have heard of this brand, but take my word for it that it is one of the best vegan foundations for dry skin that exist out there.
Made with creamy oat milk known for its super hydrating, soothing, and skin-calming properties, this foundation helps nourish your skin from within while also improving its appearance.
It also has peach extract that’s packed with vitamins A, B, C, and K and offers skin-protecting, anti-aging, and brightening benefits. The fruit extract also helps address hyperpigmentation concerns.
Ere Perez’s oat milk foundation also contains vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The foundation non-greasy formula of Ere Perez’s All Natural Oat Milk Foundation offers medium coverage that can easily be built to full coverage and a soft, natural dewy finish that those with dry skin often desire.
Like Fenty Beauty, Ere Perez isn’t 100% vegan.
7. Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation – Best Vegan Full Coverage Foundation (LINK)
While almost all the foundations on our list offer buildable coverage, if you need a full-coverage vegan foundation in your makeup stash, it’s hard to find a better option than the Amazonian Clay Foundation from Tarte.
Vegan, full-coverage, oil-free, and waterproof with an SPF boost to protect your skin from harmful UV rays – it’s a total powerhouse!
Packed with Amazonian clay, mineral pigments, and vitamin E and free of parabens and phthalates, the Tarte vegan foundation comes in a nice mousse formula that smoothly glides across the skin, providing a flawless finish.
It’s subtly luminous but also works to control the sebum on your skin, giving just the right amount of sheen for a natural glow.
The foundation can last up to 12 hours, making it perfect for daily wear.
Tarte is a cruelty-free brand, but unfortunately, not 100% vegan.
Brands That Make100% Vegan & Cruelty-Free Foundations (Cosmetics)
There are many brands that have ‘vegan’ options in their foundation category, but there are also several that exclusively make vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics.
Our list of the best vegan foundations is comprised of options from both fully vegan and not fully vegan. However, if you’re looking for 100% vegan beauty brands, the following ones are some of your best options:
- E.l.f. Cosmetics
- 100% Pure
- Elate Clean Cosmetics
- ADORN Cosmetics
- Au Naturale Cosmetics
- Gabriel Cosmetics
- Beauty Without Cruelty
There are people who wear foundation every day, and then there are some who only reach for it occasionally. No matter which of these categories you belong to, you got to have a vegan-friendly foundation in your collection when you transition to the animal-free lifestyle.
Choose any from our list that best meets your needs, and you’ll have a great product at hand.
Does your makeup always end up looking cakey, no matter what you do? Check out the following video for some great tips on achieving that flawless makeup look you have been dreaming of (ignore the non-vegan products used in it, focus on the techniques)…
Want to improve your skin health, so your foundation goes on smoothly and looks flawless every single time? Check out my article Best Vegan Skincare Brands to know where to shop your supplies from.