Top 5 Best Cruelty Free Drugstore Foundations 2021:
- E.L.F. Flawless Finish Foundation
- Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer
- Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation
- COVERGIRL Outlast All-Day Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation
- Physicians Formula The Healthy Foundation with SPF 20
Everyone has skin imperfections that they’d like to hide – that’s pretty much the number one reason people buy foundation. And since this is such an essential part of every makeup routine, often a rather expensive one, we wanted to take a moment to discuss the alternative – drugstore foundation.
Not just any kind of drugstore foundation, though – the cruelty-free kind.
As the beauty industry keeps growing and evolving, you see, drugstore brands – which often don’t get the recognition they deserve – are doing their best to keep up.
Many “high-end” brands transitioned to a more ethical, cruelty-free manufacturing process, and drugstore brands were quick to follow. That transition is far from complete – many brands still have a long way to go – but we applaud those who’ve made it!
So, if you care about whether or not your makeup was animal-tested as much as you do about flawless complexion, stick around, and we’ll help you pick out the best cruelty free drugstore foundation!
Detailed Reviews: 5 Best Cruelty Free Drugstore Foundations In 2021
1. E.L.F. Flawless Finish Foundation – Overall Best
E.L.F. Flawless Finish is a pretty cheap foundation, even for drugstore makeup standards. Still, it doesn’t look – or feel – cheap at all.
A quick look at the frosted glass bottle, complete with an easy-to-use pump, was enough to leave us a bit blown away; there’s nothing low-cost about it.
More importantly, we’re happy to report that the foundation is every bit as impressive:
The oil-free formula feels surprisingly lightweight, considering that it still provides long-lasting, medium-to-full coverage. Plus, you can achieve sheer coverage when needed by adding a touch of moisturizer to the foundation – a neat, little trick shared by E.L.F.
Furthermore, the semi-matte finish is very natural-looking, despite being highly pigmented, and blends easily. It will even out your complexion and hide imperfections without appearing “caked on.”
Also, you can get the Flawless Finish in 40 shades total, which is beyond impressive given that we’re talking about a drugstore foundation – and a cheap one at that. There’s only one other foundation on our list that tops E.L.F. in terms of available shades.
The only thing we didn’t like – and this is more of a preference than a downside – is that the formula is heavily scented. If you prefer a scent-free foundation, this isn’t it.
- A semi-matte finish and medium-to-full coverage
- Lightweight, oil-free formula that blends well and is relatively long-lasting
- Evens out skin tone and hides imperfections
- Excellent shade range
- Frosted glass bottle and an easy-to-use pump for hygienic application
- It’s both cruelty-free and vegan-friendly
- The foundation is heavily scented
2. Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer – Premium Pick
There’s a reason why this Milani foundation is one of the most hyped-up drugstore makeup products around:
It genuinely is a miracle-working foundation – and one of the absolute best cruelty-free drugstore foundations that you could get your hands on these days.
Seriously, if you want full coverage on a budget, this is it!
Also, Milani’s two-in-one foundation scores some significant points in our book for the more-than-impressive shade range. Drugstore foundations aren’t exactly known for their extensive shade ranges; Milani blows the competition out of the water with a total of 45 available shades!
Now, considering that Conceal + Perfect acts both as foundation and concealer, you can expect the texture to be a bit thicker and creamier than others. However, it doesn’t feel heavy or pore-clogging, thanks to the oil-free formula.
You can achieve medium to full coverage without foundation feeling caked on or “suffocating” – and the best part is that it’s also water-resistant.
That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though – the foundation’s notorious for its oxidation issues. Also, while it doesn’t dry out your skin, it may make some dry patches more noticeable.
- Medium-to-full coverage with a satin matte finish
- Thick and creamy texture acts as foundation and concealer
- Long-lasting and water-resistant
- Oil-free formula that doesn’t clog pores
- The foundation is available in 45 shades in total
- It’s prone to oxidation
- May make dry patches more noticeable
3. Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation – Budget-Friendly Pick
Some drugstore brands switched to cruelty-free production fairly recently; others like the Markwins’ Wet n Wild, have been cruelty-free from day one.
But what’s the deal with Photo Focus? What makes it worth considering, other than the fact that it comes from a cruelty-free brand?
It’s a camera-ready, light-diffusing liquid foundation designed with one goal in mind – helping you achieve the perfect no-filter-needed complexion.
And no, that’s not just “empty talk.”
Wet n Wild tested the Photo Focus in different photo lighting conditions – from clear blue skies to nightclub lights – to ensure picture-perfect results every time. The main goal was to prevent flash-induced white cast in photos, and the results are mind-blowingly good.
The formula offers buildable coverage – it starts as light and sheer, but you can build it up to medium-to-full coverage – blends quickly regardless of the application method, and most importantly, leaves a matte, natural-looking finish.
Plus, we love the little spatula it comes with because it’s easy to get the right amount of foundation.
Our one major complaint is the not-so-pleasant smell – it’s not unbearable, but the slight chemical odor is there.
Also, it clings to dry patches, but that’s something that a hydrating primer can quickly fix.
- Easy to apply and blend
- Offers natural-looking but buildable coverage
- Near-matte finish that works well for oily skin
- A light-diffusing formula that prevents flash-induced white cast
- Works in different lighting conditions
- Handy spatula-like applicator
- Has a slight chemical-like smell
- May cling to dry patches
4. COVERGIRL Outlast All-Day Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation – Best Long-Lasting Foundation
If drugstore makeup is your go-to choice, there’s no way that you haven’t heard of COVERGIRL – that’s how iconic the brand is.
But did you know that COVERGIRL also put in the effort and earned Leaping Bunny’s cruelty-free certification, too?
If you’re already a fan of their Outlast All-Day line of makeup, you’ll be glad to know that you can use their three-in-one foundation since it’s not tested on animals!
The “three-in-one” part is based on COVERGIRL’s claim of a formula that packs the lasting power of a primer, the easy-to-blend nature of the foundation, and the coverage of a concealer.
And as shocked as we are to say it, it’s as long-lasting as they say! The coverage is medium at best, but it’s very natural-looking – nearly matte and with excellent shine control.
Better yet, the formula contains SPF 20 for a much-needed touch of sun protection – especially now that we’re heading into summer.
And no, it doesn’t feel heavy or caked on, which is a massive plus.
Unfortunately, it seems to struggle with oxidation a bit – we noticed that it turns a darker shade once it dries.
- Long-lasting formula that doesn’t feel heavy
- Medium coverage with a natural-looking, nearly-matte finish
- Provides shine control for natural and oily skin
- It contains SPF 20 for a touch of sun protection
- Emphasizes texture and dry patches
- It turns a shade darker once it dries
5. Physicians Formula The Healthy Foundation with SPF 20 – Best Foundation For Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin, this Physicians Formula foundation is going to be your jam.
This brand is always a safe bet for the skin-sensitive bunch – but this right takes things to a whole new level. It’s called “The Healthy Foundation,” after all.
So, how healthy is it? And more importantly, how does it feel on the skin?
Physicians Formula started as hypoallergenic and free from harsh, skin-irritating ingredients – and now, over eight decades, it’s still going strong.
Coverage-wise, this foundation falls smack-dab in the middle – it’s lightweight and buildable to medium coverage with a satin-matte finish that looks surprisingly good on all skin types, from dry to acne-prone skin.
It’s pretty long-lasting but doesn’t compromise breathability along the way, which is a huge plus.
Better yet, the formula contains SPF 20 and is infused with all sorts of skin-health-boosting ingredients, such as vitamins, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid. As far as “healthy foundations” go, it doesn’t get much better than that.
We’re not the biggest fans of the doe-foot applicator, though. It makes application a lot easier, but it also harbors bacteria – and if you have acne-prone skin, this can be an issue.
- Buildable, medium coverage with a satin-matte finish
- Enriched with hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and antioxidants
- It contains SPF 20
- Relatively long-lasting but breathable and lightweight
- A decent shade range for a drugstore brand
- Hypoallergenic and free of skin-irritating chemicals
- The doe-foot applicator isn’t the most hygienic solution
Things To Consider Before You Pick The Best Cruelty Free Drugstore Foundation
There are two steps to follow when choosing the best cruelty-free drugstore foundation:
Establishing if the makeup brand is, in fact, cruelty-free and then finding the right shade, coverage, finish, and formulation for your skin type.
Here, we’ll break it down for you!
1. Check If The Makeup Brand Is Cruelty-Free
For any product to be labeled as “cruelty-free,” it can’t include animal testing at any stage of production. We’re not just talking about finished products here:
An authentic cruelty-free product can’t contain ingredients that were tested on animals, either.
Furthermore, the brand shouldn’t hire third-party labs to perform the tests on their behalf, work with suppliers that test raw materials on animals, or sell to markets that require animal testing by law, such as China.
But how can you know if a particular makeup brand is cruelty-free for sure?
It’s hard to talk about these things with absolute certainty because some companies tend to “bend the truth.” After all, “cruelty-free” labeling still isn’t regulated properly.
Many drugstore makeup brands – L’Oreal, Maybelline, and Revlon, included – haven’t jumped on the cruelty-free wagon yet. There are brands that have, though, and if you do a bit of research and look in the right places, you can quickly track them down.
Currently, there are only three organizations that offer this type of information:
Whenever you’re in doubt about a specific product or brand, visit these websites to find out whether they’re listed as “cruelty-free.”
2. Know Your Skin: Type, Color & Undertones
We’ve already covered the “cruelty-free” part of the equation, so you can guess what comes next – the “getting to know your skin and its needs” part.
If you haven’t already, you should figure out your skin type:
Would you say that your skin is dry, oily, acne-prone, or sensitive? Beauty products are typically categorized according to the skin type they’re best suited for – and the foundation is no different.
Now, let’s talk about skin color and foundation shades because we’ve all seen what happens when you don’t do the color-matching right. The tricky thing – and the primary culprit for so many makeup disasters – is that there are two colors at play here:
Your skin color and your skin tone – and no, they’re not the same. You can have the same skin color as someone else, but with a different undertone.
So, avoid shopping for foundations based on recommendations from friends and family and take a second to figure out your undertone by taking a glance at your wrist, instead:
- Cool: Pink, bluish, and red undertones typically have bluish or purple veins.
- Warm: Yellow, golden, and peachy undertones typically have green veins.
- Neutral: A mix of cool and warm undertones.
3. Desired Coverage & Finish
Once you figured out your skin type and did the skin-to-shade matching, it’s time to discuss the third and final factor – the level of coverage and the finish that you’d like to achieve with your foundation.
Coverage plays a role in how light or heavy the foundation will look, which, in essence, determines how much of your skin will be showing through after application.
Unless you opt for a universal formulation with buildable coverage, you have three options here:
- Sheer foundation – Typically very natural-looking and only provides light coverage
- Medium coverage – A bit heavier – enough to cover up blemishes – but still looks natural
- Full coverage – thick and heavy enough to hide dark spots, blemishes, and smooth out any fine lines
Last but not least, decide on the finish based on the overall look you’re going for and, more importantly, your skin type.
Generally speaking, oily skin calls for a matte finish, while dry skin typically looks better with foundations that provide a more dewy finish.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
Choosing the best cruelty free drugstore foundation means taking a stand and doing your part in protecting innocent creatures from the cruelty of animal testing. It’s the loudest possible message we can send to makeup brands – drugstore or not – that hasn’t gone cruelty-free yet.
Here are today’s top picks:
Best Overall: E.L.F. Flawless Finish Foundation
- E.L.F. did it again – premium-feeling packaging at a pocket-friendly price and a highly-pigmented, oil-free formula that lasts long, blends easily and looks natural. Plus, it’s both cruelty-free and vegan-friendly! As far as drugstore foundations go, this one is pretty hard to beat.
Premium Pick: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer
- It’s nowhere near expensive, but the Milani Conceal + Perfect foundation is still our premium pick. The creamy, rich texture that acts as foundation and concealer, the long-lasting, water-resistant, oil-free formula, and the 45 available shades; there’s something undeniably premium-feeling about it.
Budget-Friendly Pick: Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation
- A brand that’s been cruelty-free from day one is always worth recommending, even more so when you need a budget-friendly foundation with a matte finish and buildable coverage. Plus, the light-diffusing formula keeps your complexion camera-ready at all times!