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Our Favourite Cruelty-Free Skincare Brands That You Need to Know About

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Main Image – Kalengankonge/Stocksy

We *really* love skincare, especially the cruelty-free kind.

But while we like a bit of luxury as much as the next beauty addict, the prices of some of our favourite high-performing ethical products can be kind of a bummer.

This meant that, for a long time, those of us who loved cruelty-free, effective beauty which didn’t cost the earth were lost in something of a beauty wilderness.

But thankfully no longer.

Lately, an increasing number of new brands have heard the call of the skincare obsessed (us included) and are beginning to offer cruelty-free, ingredient-conscious formulas without the price tag, with products ranging from super affordable to a bit of a treat when your skin needs some extra TLC.

But how do these lines measure up?

Well, we’ve put together a roundup of our fave cruelty-free brands that are filling this gap in the market, and here are our top picks so far.


 

This is new, up-to-date information. We updated this article in March 2024 to add further ways to use the product complete with updated prices.

 


Editor-in-Chief – Sally Underwood

Skin type: Sensitive

winter skin moisturisers sally

Fourth Ray Beauty

Fourth Ray Beauty is the skincare arm of the ever-popular affordable makeup brand, Colourpop.

With more of an emphasis on gentle ingredients rather than hard-hitting actives, Fourth Ray has some really lovely, gentle products for skin in need of hydration.

“While I’m enjoying everything I’ve tried from this brand, my favourite so far is the Good Mood Gel Moisturizer“, says Sally.

 

 

“Despite the addition of dimethicone (which I don’t really enjoy the feel of), I am a fan of many of this bargain moisturiser’s other ingredients, including Damascena rose water, hyaluronic acid, and apple, apricot, cucumber, mango and grapefruit extracts.

Healthline says that “rose water has been used as a beauty product for thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that it can improve your complexion and reduce skin redness” and that “rose water’s antibacterial properties may help reduce acne and the anti-inflammatory properties can reduce skin redness and puffiness.”

On the skin, Sally says this gel moisturiser feels “comforting with the addition of marshmallow extract, and super hydrating, soothing, and cooling.”

“As another plus, this watermelon-scented gel is also alcohol and oil-free.”

Great for: Oily Skin types

Not-so-great for: Those who don’t love silicones in their skincare

 

What other people had to say

It seems this product is great for older skin, with one customer saying “Being 53 I need a good moisturizer! This is amazing! Not only is it a moisturizer that doesn’t make my skin greasy, but it helps my hives on my neck. Oh and it helps with the lines I have around my mouth and eyes. I love this stuff!!!”

A customer who suffers from dry skin said “This is one of the most lightweight and refreshing products I have ever tried. After the first aplication [sic], you notice the change. Absorbs right away, won’t leave a greasy residue and leaves the skin very soft and feeling fresh.

“I live in Puerto Rico and the weather on the Island makes my skin feel dry and this whole company is what I was looking for. I am so happy I found you guys!”

Fourth Ray Beauty’s Good Mood Gel Moisturizer is $14/£12 on the Fourth Ray Beauty website

 


Laura Kemp – Senior Beauty Editor

Skin type: Combination

winter skin moisturisers laura

The Inkey List

This British brand, created by two former Boots workers, Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, drew comparisons as the UK’s answer to The Ordinary when it first launched in September 2018.

Featuring a range of ingredient-specific products, The Inkey List promises fuss-free results with many products priced at under £15.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The INKEY List (@theinkeylist)

 

“I’ve been trying out a few of The Inkey List products, but their oat cleanser really is a game-changer. Especially if you have dry or sensitive skin”, says Laura.

“It works really well on my combination skin because it soothes and gently cleans dry areas while melting off my makeup and SPF, but it doesn’t make my T-zone greasy.

“It contains really gentle ingredients like 3% oat kernel oil to gently remove makeup as well as hydrate and moisturise, and 1% colloidal oatmeal to soothe irritation and help to reduce any redness. 

“It’s also the perfect cleanser to use first in your double-cleansing routine, it honestly feels like it’s melting makeup and SPF away and it feels really thick and luxurious when massaging it into my skin.”

Another plus point for this product is the gentle scent, as well as the fact that it’s suitable for all skin types and is gentle on the eyes.

Great for: Sensitive skin, dry skin, and those who wear a lot of makeup and SPF

Not-so-great for: Those who don’t like using thick cleansers

 

What other people had to say

A lot of The Inkey List customers rave about this cleanser, with one saying that it “has a rich feel when applying to the skin. Rather than stripping and drying my skin, it adds moisture even after I rinse off. I love this cleanser!”

Another user swears by this product, saying “I use this as the first cleanser in my routine and I love it!! Removes makeup so well and doesn’t clog my pores. Also hydrates my dehydrated skin.”

The Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm is $13/£12 on The Inkey List website

 


 

Philippa Pearne – Beauty Editor

Skin type: Oily and acne-prone

winter skin moisturisers philippa

Balance Me

Balance Me was co-founded by sisters Clare and Rebecca Hopkins in 2005 after they started experiencing everything from sensitive skin reactions to hormonal breakouts. Eager to turn to natural skincare to balance their skin, the pair said goodbye to their careers in the city and created Balance Me.

Both were meticulous about the brand and products living up to its name to deliver balanced, happy skin – naturally – for every skin type, solving skin concerns without creating others.

Philippa’s favourite Balance Me product is their Super Berry Cleansing Balm, which contains a unique recipe of Raspberry Seed, Blackberry and Arctic Cloudberry Oils, along with a high concentration of Jojoba and Rosehip Oil to leave skin “purified, refreshed and luminous.”

 


“Like most people, Clare and Rebecca either understand or have experienced things like perimenopause, the cost of living and the importance of protecting our planet, plus, they are mothers to daughters so they really tap into who their consumers are and what they want”, says Philippa.

“The brand is B Corp certified and my absolute favourite product is their Super Berry Cleansing Balm which feels like warm honey when you apply it to your skin.

“It lifts off dirt seamlessly and leaves skin feeling super smooth after every use. I save it for when my skin really needs a treat, so perhaps when I’m hormonal or a bit stressed.”

Great for: Leaving skin feeling super soft, skin that feels stressed

Not-so-great for: This may be too thick for acne-prone skin

 

What other people had to say

This is a popular cleanser with lots of people for its hydrating and soothing properties, with one customer saying they “absolutely love this cleanser from the texture to the smell. It feels so luxurious when applied to the skin and leaves my skin feeling clean yet hydrated. It’s now a staple of my skin care regime.”

While another praised how long it lasts and its non-greasy formula “This is only my 2nd purchase as my first jar lasted me nearly a year which is amazing really as I use it pretty much every single night!! It smells beautiful and leaves my skin feeling clean but not greasy at all.”

Balance Me’s Super Berry Cleanser is $46.80 on the Feel Unique US website/£39 on the Balance Me website

 


Tori Crowther – Contributing Beauty Editor

Skin type: Sensitive, rosacea-prone

winter skin moisturisers

Bloomeffects

Married to a fourth-generation Dutch tulip farmer, the creator of Bloomeffects, Kim van Haaster, quickly discovered that tulips are more than a pretty petal and became enamoured after learning of the the hydrating and rejuvenating benefits of the tulip.

After securing two Dutch government grants in research, Kim’s mission was to create products which are good for you and better for the environment – so Bloomeffects was born.

With decades of experience in the cosmeceutical industry across multiple categories including colour cosmetics, fragrance, haircare, and skincare, Kim’s passion for clean and efficacious skincare that is suitable for sensitive skin comes from her personal struggles with her eczema and allergies – making her products perfect for those with extremely sensitive and dry skin.

Tori’s favourite Bloomeffects product is their Tulip Dew Cream that’s perfect for “especially dry, dull skin looking for deep moisturization and instant radiance.”

Just look how light this texture is:

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bloomeffects Skincare (@bloomeffects)

 

“I’ll be honest, natural skincare isn’t really my thing. My rosacea doesn’t love the essential oil-filled formulas and I find the industry to be a tricky one to navigate with lots of fear-mongering thrown in for good measure.

“However, for the brands that do it well, Bloomeffects really does encompass and celebrate how mother nature can be incorporated into our everyday routines.

“Bloomeffects uses the benefits of tulips, sustainably grown and harvested in the Netherlands, to create unique, beautiful and efficacious products. At first, I wasn’t convinced about the tulips but after trying the Tulip Dew Cream I’m converted.

“This is a beautiful lightweight cream that packs a punch in hydration and moisture. It’s alcohol, fragrance, and paraben-free meaning it’s ideal for very fussy, sensitive skin.”

Great for: Fussy skin, sensitive skin, blemish-prone skin, skin in need of some TLC

Not-so-great for: Your bank balance

 

What other people had to say

And other customers are also raving about this product, one said “no scent (thank you) and gentle. It feels light on my skin. It is moisturizing and makes my makeup look fantastic and glowing. I’m on my 2nd jar.”

Another consumer on the Bloomeffects website said “I love this Dew Cream. I use this cream at night when I feel extra tight or dry on my skin, and it feels lovely after I use it.

“It feels light yet moisturizing, and I’ve never had problems with it being an acne prone skin type.”

Bloomeffects Tulip Dew Cream is $49/£38.36 on the Bloomeffects website

 


The takeaway

The skincare industry has definitely woken up to the demand for cruelty-free, effective- yet not break-the-bank- products; and that’s great news for organic skincare fans.

While some products may be slightly more expensive, there’s now an amazing range of brands and products to suit all skin types and price points.

Enjoy!

 

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Editor-in-Chief

Sally Underwood is a journalist, *serious* beauty fan, and Editor-in-Chief of Live That Glow. Formerly Editorial Director of one of Europe's largest newspaper groups, Sally has been a beauty obsessive since her teen years spent dragging her long-suffering (but immaculately-groomed) friends around every beauty counter in London. She now leads Live That Glow's editorial operations.

Expertise: Skincare, Body care
Education: University College London
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COMMENTS
  • Nishu

    REPLY

    Good molecules makes some amazing product. Great line up, sally. It’s definetly gonna save me some money. It would be great if you could start a series recommending some dupes of the high end products.

    14th November 2019
  • Tatjana Cvejic

    REPLY

    Such a great post!!!!! I have to find a way to get Good Molecules Super peptide serum! I think that one of the main points of your amazing post is your question “Why is it that so many of the brands I fall in love with are so difficult to get in Europe?”

    20th November 2019
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