Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty with Lucy Watson

Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty with Lucy Watson

Cruelty free beauty has been on my radar for a while now. I’m super selective about what I purchase – opting for ethical options whenever possible. But I’m also aware that I tend to skew toward high-end beauty products, which simply isn’t an option for everyone. To remain inclusive and accessible, I’ve teamed up with my old friend Lucy Watson to discuss affordable cruelty free beauty!

Meet Lucy

Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty with Lucy Watson

Lucy is a lifelong animal lover who’s been enjoying her journey to a cruelty free life. She’s constantly learning about new products and tweaking her beauty routine. Lucy can spend hours researching new brands and products, and recently started an Instagram account called @effortlessly_vegan to share her findings with the world. (She loves to chat products, so shoot her a DM!) When Lucy isn’t knee deep in beauty research, she works full time as a Program Director for a university graduate program. She also loves to travel and hopes to do a bit of globetrotting in 2019.

Before we start…

I want to demystify the term cruelty free a little bit. By definition, cruelty free products do not harm or kill animals. Simple enough. But not everyone realizes how hard it can be to make that call. For instance, sometimes cruelty free brands are owned by cruel parent companies. In these cases, should you still consider the brand in question to be cruelty free? Well, frankly, that’s a personal decision. In my opinion, continuing to support the brand is perfectly ok. I view it as a form of voting with my wallet – telling the parent company that I care about supporting ethical practices. But if continuing to support the brand doesn’t sit well with you, that’s also valid! Conscious consumerism isn’t cut and dry, and sometimes you have to draw your own lines.

Going forward, I want to establish this space as judgment-free. If you’ve never thought about this stuff, that’s ok. You’re here to learn and that’s great!

And now, please welcome Lucy!

We’ll start with a short Q&A, and then I’ll have Lucy take over.

How has your cruelty free journey been thus far? Are you finding it easy to swap out cruel brands for cruelty free ones, and are you happy with the results of these new products? 

I’ve loved every step of my cruelty free journey. I’m not perfect and am still learning, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy its been to find cruelty free products in places I already shop. A little bit of research goes a long way! For example, I found out that Target has a great selection of cruelty free brands. For that reason, it’s become my favorite place to shop for beauty products. My new beauty products feel better on my skin and I’ve noticed my skin is clearer and brighter! Acne and break outs have all but disappeared, which is a big bonus for my sensitive skin.

Has going cruelty free impacted the way you shop for other things (clothes, cleaning supplies, etc)?

Yes and no. I have recently started converting to cruelty free cleaning supplies, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how mainstream and accessible they are. I haven’t tackled the clothing industry yet, but it is definitely something I want to tackle in the future. One thing I have learned is that you can’t change everything in your house to cruelty free instantly, no matter how hard you try! Taking baby steps is okay. How you choose to proceed moving forward is all that you can do, and I’m trying to be kind to myself in this journey and take it one day at a time.

I know you went vegan recently. So cool! How’s that been?

Going vegan has been so wonderful and has felt like a bit of a rebirth for me. I have become a more intentional person. My heart feels lighter and I have noticed I feel better overall, not just mentally. I’ve found it to be very easy to find vegan alternatives and am loving all of the food I have been eating!

What’s your absolute favorite cruelty free product that you’ve discovered since making the switch?

It’s hard to pick just one but Pacifica has been such a game changer for me, which is a brand not just one product (I can’t choose just one product!). Target and Ulta carry Pacifica. They’re cruelty free, vegan and offer a wide variety of products.

Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty with Lucy Watson

I love their Wake Up Beautiful overnight cream and their Island Vanilla perfume. Also their coconut cleanser…it’s so soothing. I love everything I’ve tried from them and highly recommend their products.

Lucy’s Cruelty Free Journey

I’ve always been very interested in beauty products, finding sheer joy in testing new brands and products. My love of beauty goes way back, and I hold a very special place in my heart for skin creams, cosmetics, and perfumes in particular. My vanity is overflowing with bottles and I have drawers of miscellaneous products strewn throughout my en suite. I’ve always bought products that had the cutest packaging, held the best reviews in the beauty world, or were prominently displayed in my beloved shops like Sephora and Ulta. I wasn’t checking into the ingredients of my products and I certainly wasn’t paying attention to the morals of the companies who sold them.

Until last autumn, that is.

It all started when I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and saw a photo of a suffering bunny. The post stopped me in my tracks, immediately breaking my heart and catching my undivided attention. This poor bunny was missing patches of fur all over its body. Its skin looked raw, irritated, and very painful. The photo’s caption listed all of the beauty companies that still test on animals, contributing every single day to the inhumane treatment of animals. I cannot begin to tell you the shock I felt when I read the list. Nearly every single brand in my makeup bag was on it. I had no idea that these kinds of inhumane practices were so mainstream and felt so naive and frustrated with myself for not knowing more about the products I purchase and the companies I am supporting in doing so.

So I took action. I did a massive inventory of the products and brands I own and cross checked their ethics. Upsettingly, most of the brands I’d been using were not cruelty free. I learned that companies who sell products in mainland China are required by law to conduct animal testing. Alarmingly, some companies will claim cruelty free status despite the fact that they do test on products being sold in mainland China, making this claim both unethical and untrue. For that reason, I now try to purchase Leaping Bunny Certified or Peta approved brands, which are guaranteed to be cruelty free. You can find the bunny logos printed on the back of these ethical products.

Here’s an example:

Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty with Lucy Watson

If you’re unsure about a brand’s cruelty free status, do a quick google search. That’ll usually yield the answer of whether or not a brand is cruelty free.

Let’s Talk Brands

I love to shop cruelty free but am a girl on a budget, so I have found some cruelty free brands that align with my morals and also don’t break the bank. The list below highlights drugstore brands at lower price points. Please note, however, that many high end make up brands also test on animals. In fact, the majority of them do.


CruelCruelty Free
BioreThe Ordinary
Neutrogena Pacifica
OlayNourish Organic


CruelCruelty Free 
L’OrealCoverGirl *
Maybelline e.l.f.
AlmayWet ‘n Wild

*CoverGirl became Cruelty Free certified in November 2018, which is a huge stride for the drugstore make up industry!

Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty with Lucy Watson


CruelCruelty Free
ChanelGood Chemistry
Jo Malone Pacifica
BurberryThe Body Shop


CruelCruelty Free
Arm & HammerMeow Meow Tweet


CruelCruelty Free
CrestSchmidt’s (I love the wondermint flavor)
ColgateNature’s Gate

Nail Polish

CruelCruelty Free
Sally HansenPacifica

Hope you found this post helpful! Do you have any cruelty free beauty favorites? Drop ’em in the comments. We’d love to hear about them!

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