Is Red Lipstick Vegan?


Whether you reserve red lips for special occasions or rock them daily, finding the best red lipstick can require a lot of trial and error. Does orange-red or blue-red compliment your skin tone? Will you get more wear from a matte or gloss finish? Do you want a deep and sultry shade or one that’s bright and bold? Most importantly, can your red lipstick be vegan and cruelty-free? Yes! Here are some things to consider.

Lookout for Cochineal Extract
Cochineal Extract is the main reason why most widely-available red lipsticks are not considered vegan. Cochineal Extract is a red dye that produces shades of pinks, reds, and purples. It’s made from dried and crushed cochineal insects. In nature, these little critters can be found living off of the moisture and nutrients of cacti. Although some argue that cochineal extract is a non-toxic dye because it comes from natural sources, it requires harvesting insects and that’s not something we can get behind. According to recent FDA updates, Cochineal Extract can be listed as Carmine on an ingredient panel. Carmine is produced by boiling and filtering cochineal insects with other chemicals instead of drying them.

Mind Your Beeswax
Beeswax is made from melting down, straining, and cooling honeycomb. It’s used in many cosmetics, including lipsticks, as a thickening agent to keep products solid and maintain their structure. Although it sounds harmless on the surface, beeswax, honey, and other products that come from bees are commonly sourced from factory-farms which promote unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation. PETA has a great resource here.

Vegan lipsticks are made with beeswax alternatives, like Carnauba Wax. Also referred to as palm wax or Brazil wax, Carnauba Wax is made from the leaves of the palm, a plant that is native to northeastern Brazil. Although it’s technically a renewable resource, there is some controversy surrounding how quickly the palm is being replenished in its natural environment and how that effects surrounding wildlife. A little harder to find, but not impossible to find, is Candelilla Wax. It’s made from the leaves of the small Candelilla shrub native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Lose the Lanolin
Also referred to as wool wax or wool grease, Lanolin is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals. Basically, it’s an oily or waxy matter that helps lubricate and repel water. These properties make it an ideal ingredient for lotions and cosmetics, including highly pigmented lipstick shades- like reds. Again, because lanolin is an animal-byproduct, vegans steer clear of it. There are great plant-based oils that can serve as alternatives to achieve supple red lips without drying or cracking.

Cruelty-Free Check
As always, it’s a good idea to check for a statement or third party seal to ensure your perfect red lip color wasn’t tested on animals. If you’re unsure, call or email the company’s customer service. Or, follow us for a vegan and cruelty-free feed of beauty and fashion goods that pass the test.

We know this is a lot to consider before you buy, but the good news is that there are innovative brands out there who are taking extra steps to reduce negative impacts on animal welfare and the planet. We did some digging and found these great reds that cover all the bases.

Axiology Worth | $28


Image Credit: Axiology

One of our favorite lipstick brands, Axiology is a shining example of how to be ethical, sustainable, and luxurious at the same time. Not only is their entire line vegan and cruelty free, Axiology is committed to using only Candelilla Wax. Even their packaging is sourced from a female-owned recycled-paper boutique! We chose Worth from their line because it’s a gorgeous red with undertones of warm tangerine that applies with a creme-matte finish. SHOP >


100% Pure Hibiscus | $29


Image Credit: 100% Pure

An innovative way to go red without Cochineal Extract or synthetic dyes, 100% Pure uses fruit pigments in this bright Hibiscus shade. The ingredient panel sounds good enough to eat, with fruit extracts from organic cherries, cabernet grapes, and organic plums. As an added bonus it doubles as an anti-aging treatment, coating your lips with antioxidants and vitamins with a semi-matte finish. SHOP >


Hourglass Classic, True Red | $28


Image Credit: Sephora

Liquid lipsticks are a great way to avoid beeswax, as long as you find one that is richly pigmented like the Opaque Rouge Liquid line from Hourglass. We love that Hourglass offers entire vegan lines and is a cruelty-free brand. This liquid lipstick in Classic, True Red not only gives you long-lasting bold coverage, it provides anti-oxidant benefits with ingredients like Cili Fruit and Goji Berry. Plus, liquid lipsticks are a great way to rock a red lip without drying and cracking. SHOP > 


Pacifica Firebird | $10


Image Credit: Pacifica

We love brands like Pacifica who commit to 100% vegan and cruelty-free products. The Devocean natural lipstick line gives you full color without artificial dyes at a super affordable price point. We love this Firebird shade as a deep red. The ingredient panel is an added bonus, with recognizable inclusions like sunflower oil, shea butter, and extracts from cranberry, tomato, and beetroot. And, their outer cartons are 100% recyclable. SHOP >


Troi Ollivierre Beauty Parker – True Red | $28


Image Credit: Troi Ollivierre Beauty

Troi Ollivierre Matte Luxe Lipsticks are a vegan and cruelty-free line with a chic and classic appeal. The Parker- True Red gives you that highly-pigmented orange-red look without the drying. The line is designed and mixed by Troi Ollivierre, who is credited as playing an instrumental role in creating J. Crew’s simple, yet modern but sophisticated look. SHOP > 


Au Naturale Spanish Rose | $22


Image Credit: Au Naturale Cosmetics

If you’re looking for a really deep red, try Spanish Rose by Au Naturale. The company’s entire product line is made with natural, gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and organic ingredients. That means you can have a sultry, romantic red lip that has a matte finish without synthetic preservatives, toxins, or fillers. SHOP >