According to Pinterest, “vegan lipstick” was among the most searched-for beauty terms in 2019. User searches for lip colours with no lanolin, beeswax or carmine (the crimson pigment, used in food, paint, cosmetics and more, that’s traditionally obtained by crushing minuscule insects), and that are not sold in mainland China (where animal testing is broadly mandatory), were up 150% year-on-year. It’s not a surprising figure, given the astronomical growth in vegan lifestyle. Accordingly, there are such a vast number of lipsticks for vegans that it’s no longer a question of what are they, but which are the best.
I always feel matte finishes are the truest measure of a lipstick brand, as they pose the biggest challenge – colour must be vivid and dense (any fool can make sheer tinted balm); lasting power should be long; lips should remain comfortable, not dry, rough and tight.
In terms of colour saturation minus the busied bees and crushed beetles, it’s hard to beat Smashbox’s new Always On Cream to Matte Lipstick (3; £19). The teardrop-shape bullet draws on colour sharply and precisely, and I found the colour (Fresca, a dirty mid-tone nude) remained unchanged all day, regardless of whether it had been applied over foundation or bare skin. Natural oils make for an almost balmy creaminess rarely associated with mattes. My only gripe is that there’s no tomatoey red in the lineup, which seems an unforgivable oversight.
You’re doubtless sick of my quacking on about e.l.f., so I shan’t dwell, but this wholly vegan colour and skin brand is remarkably good and has helped me through myriad on-the-go beauty emergencies. Its Velvet Matte Lipstick (1; £4.50), in an unsatisfactorily small range of colours, feels way more moisturising than many on the high street, and its only-a-whisper-shy-of-matte finish works in its favour, particularly if super-flat lipsticks feel too punchy a statement for work.
The brand formerly known as Kat Von D has just bid its controversial founder farewell, but kept her vegan manifesto and rebranded as KVD Beauty. The offputtingly naff LA packaging looks set to go, with something more modern to take its place, and products may be renamed along with the brand. So if you’re quick, the old incarnation of the excellent, comfy, almost-matte-but-not-quite Satin-Matte Cream Lipstick can be snagged at a clearance price (2; £11.39 at Debenhams). If you don’t get lucky, keep lips puckered and eyes peeled for the new rollout.
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