Is ColourPop Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

Some say its collections are just too large and transitory to be eco-friendly.
various ColourPop makeup products including lip gloss and blush
Treehugger / Lindsey Reynolds

ColourPop is the epitome of vibrant cosmetics. The brand is known for its highly saturated palettes and playful Lippie Stix, which sell by the boat load at $7 a pop. It's certified cruelty free🤡 but not by what's widely considered to be the leading accreditation body. The brand also churns out product at a much faster pace than what's considered environmentally friendly.

Learn more about the famously affordable makeup brand that vivifies the internet—including more clarity on its cruelty free status and sustainability.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: ColourPop

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by PETA, not by Leaping Bunny
  • Vegan: Mostly vegan
  • Ethical: It's unclear where ColourPop sources mica and other problematic ingredients
  • Sustainable: Weekly releases drive a culture of unsustainable hyperconsumption

PETA-Certified Cruelty Free

ColourPop says it prides itself on "being wallet-friendly and bunny-approved," but it isn't actually certified cruelty free by the esteemed Leaping Bunny organization. It is certified by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program, known to be less stringent than Leaping Bunny.

"We test our products in the nicest way possible, leaving fur babies to be fur babies and experimenting on people instead," the company says. ColourPop claims that it also doesn't allow its suppliers to test on animals.ജ It does not sell anywhere that requires animal testing by law, including China.

ColourPop's Mostly Vegan Range

Considering ColourPop has more than 1,000 products—counting colorways of each item—in their repertoire at all times, the fact that only about 300 of them contain animal products makes it one of the more vegan-accessible drugstore brands on the market.
Vegan products are labeled as such on the brand's website, and all in one place. All false eyelashes and brushes are made with synthetic fibers, not animal hair. Vegan bestsellers include the , , , and .
ColourPop poducts that aren't vegan often contain carmine, a red coloring derived from insects.

Murky Ingredients Sourcing

The good news is that ColourPop's product development, testing, and manufacturing occur all under one roof in Southern California, which makes it easy to avoid human rights issues like forced and child labor on the factory side of things. However, it doesn't mean that the ingredients used for ColourPop cosmetics are necessarily ethical.

The brand does include shimmery mica in quite a lot of its formulas, and the mica mining industry🗹 is notorious for being unsafe, unhealthy, and unethical in places like India, where it's most commonly found. ColourPop does not disclose where its ingredients come from and has not published any sort of human rights policy—nor has its parent company, Seed Beauty. Treehugger reached out for clarification on this issue and received no response.

ColourPop and Hyperconsumption

ColourPop exemplifies the beauty equivalent of fast fashion. A scroll through the brand's YouTube channel reveals new collection and collaboration announcements on a weekly basis. The brand is proud of its outrageous production pace, saying it's "dedicated to newness at lightning speed," but critics say the hyperconsumption model on which it's based is wildly unsustainable.

Seed Beauty addresses the question we all have: Where does the product that isn't sold go? Like fast fashion brands, fast cosmetics brands have also been known to send last season's inventory to landfills. The incubator responsible for ColourPop's inception says that "vertical integration allows its brands to closely manage inventory levels, which ensures minimal excess inventory at the end of the product life cycle."

"Local manufacturing lowers our carbon footprint by not needing to ship and package unfinished goods along the manufacturing process," Seed Beauty says. "We are committed to developing and creating products that are socially, economically, and ecologically responsible."

That said, ColourPop continues to sell glitter made of polyethelene♛, a major source of ocean microplastic pollution, and does not instruct users on how to responsibly dispose of it.

Alternative Cruelty Free Brands to Try

ColourPop falls short of Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards🙈 because it doesn't disclose where its ingredients come from and encourages overconsumption with its fast and fleeting production pace. Here are four Treehugger-approved brands making clean, green, and socially responsible ColourPop alternatives.

Axiology for a Lippie Stix Alternative

Sure, ColourPop's iconic Lippie Stix are vegan, but their second most concentrated ingredient is plastic (polyethylene, to be precise), and they contain palm oil under the guise of "palmitic acid." Axiology's irresistibly adorable "," rather, are made with just nine clean, mostly organic ingredients. These tiny crayons are super portable and designed for use on lids, lips, and cheeks.

Urban Decay for High-Pigment Palettes

Relax: Nobody's asking you to give up the vibrant, multi-toned lidwork you've poured inordinate hours into perfecting. Find cruelty free and vegan eyeshadow palettes that are just as intense at Urban Decay♔. You'll like the earthy-toned iteration, inspired by nature.

Milani for Bright Lip Color

Like ColourPop, Milani is widely adored for its low price point (and for its unwavering cruelty free standards). "Super-saturated" lip cream in 24 shades for $12 apiece? Yes, please. But careful, vegans— does contain animal products.

e.l.f. for Affordable Brow Products

e.l.f. Cosmetics is one of the most ethical drugstore beauty brands on the market. This cruelty free and vegan features a spoolie on the other end, so you practically get two products for just $3. While many pencils like this are made with beeswax, this one uses animal-free carnauba wax instead.
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