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Is Elf Cruelty Free & Vegan in 2021?

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Last Updated on 07/05/2021

Do you think cruelty free makeup is just high end makeup items? Allow Eyes Lips Face Cosmetics aka e.l.f. Cosmetics to burst your bubble! They claim to be a cruelty-free brand. But there’s talk of ELF’s China connection too. As a result, you may question whether ELF is truly a cruelty free & clean brand?

Elf Lipstick

There’s no denying, ELF provides superb quality makeup & brushes at an unimaginable price. Many of us started our makeup journey with Elf. I still come back to ELF time & again just for the sheer goodness of the formula & quality at an amazing price. That ‘how’s and ‘why’s of ELF’s being both cheap and cruelty-free often intrigues its loyal customers, including me. They also claim to be vegan. Truly, ticks all the boxes of value added makeup!

Here’s the backstage story of this world famous affordable makeup brand.

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Is ELF Cruelty Free & Vegan in 2021?


ELF – Past & Present

2004 – e.l.f. Cosmetics was established in California, US in 2004 by Joseph Shamah and Scott Vincent Borba. Young business student Shamah & makeup artist Borba wanted to provide professional quality of makeup at drugstore price. They wanted their makeup to be at discount stores & loved by all categories of beauty enthusiasts.

2014 – TPG Growth acquired ELF in 2014.

Currently – Currently ELF Cosmetics is available in 18 countries including US, Australia, Canada and UK. You’ll find this Allure, Glamour and Good Housekeeping featured brand in Target, Ulta  and Walmart.


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What ELF Says about their Cruelty Free Status/Outlook?

According to ELF’s official statement,

“We do NOT test on animals or endorse such practices. Our products do not contain animal-derived ingredients. Beeswax has been replaced by synthetic beeswax and lanolin has been replaced by Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladinpale-2. We currently support HSUS and are partners with PETA in the Caring Consumer Project.”

ELF does not test any of its ingredients on animals. They do not engage third parties i.e. testing laboratories to run cruelty tests on their finished product. ELF avoids direct selling to those countries where animal testing is a mandatory practice for every imported cosmetic. For example, China.

Cruelty-Free Timeline 

2004 – Since its beginning days ELF had an active presence in the cruelty-free community. (Appreciate!)

2005 – In 2005, just one year after its launch, ELF joined in PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies campaign. They made it very clear that they won’t settle for any cruelty based ingredients to create their makeup.

2007 – In 2007, it joined PETA’s Fur Free campaign with its faux leather tweezer packs. ELF won PETA’s most prestigious Trail-Blazer Award for its no-budge commitment towards animal welfare. Till this date, ELF is a loyal supporter and donor of PETA’s worldwide cruelty-free movement.

Elf Ruby Red

Is ELF Cruelty Free?

ELF manufactures in China, but still claims to be cruelty-free. How so? Here is your answer!

Yes. ELF is PETA Beauty Without Bunnies certified cruelty-free brand. ELF doesn’t test its products on animals in any stage of the manufacture process. They don’t engage ingredient suppliers who run animal tests on supplied ingredients.

Also, they don’t sell their products in physical or offline stores in China, to avoid animal testing. ELF makes some of their products in China maintaining its cruelty-free status intact. 


Is ELF manufactured in China?

Yes. ELF manufactures some of their products in China. For instance, their brushes. This is how they provide super cheap products.

However, there’s another side of the story. ELF does make products in China but they don’t sell there. They manufacture only and export. China’s cosmetic safety policies don’t apply on ‘to be exported’ products in skin care, hair care and makeup category. Rest assured, ELF products are still cruelty-free.


Is ELF currently being sold in China?

Yes. ELF sells in mainland China but not by ‘direct marketing’. That means, you won’t find ELF products at any offline stores there.

You have to place an overseas order at the online website. China’s product safety policy mandates animal testing for products sold in ‘physical’ stores.

Overseas online deliveries are free from this inhuman testing. So, ELF remains cruelty free even after being sold in China.

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Is it vegan?

ELF always highlights their products as vegan friendly. It used to make horse hair brushes in the past. However, now they have shifted to synthetic fiber to make their makeup applicators and brushes.

They also transformed all their non vegan products into vegan now. Ditched animal derived lanolin and carmine. As a result, started using their lab prepared substitutes.

Let me remind you one thing here. ELF products are definitely ‘vegan’ but not organic or all natural. If you’re like ‘huh’, then this guide will be useful: What’s the difference among Cruelty Free, Vegan & Organic?

ELF lippie

Do we recommend ELF?

ELF products are cruelty-free, vegan, non comedogenic & hypoallergenic. They are also free from harmful chemicals like paraben, pthalate, hydroquinone. In spite of manufacturing their products in mainland China, they don’t reach out to direct selling market of China.

ELF doesn’t have non cruelty-free owning brand either. ELF provides clear answers to user queries regarding animal testing. The also provide detailed information regarding vegan substitutes of animal ingredients. So, you may buy ELF with all your heart’s content.

Not only animals will love you for this, you wallet will love you as well! (No need to say it was a bad one.)


5 Highly Recommended Products from ELF

  1. e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer

It is one of the major bestsellers from ELF.  The awesome pore blurring effect never fails to stun. Want a perfect flawless canvas for the base makeup to roll on? This one’s the best drugstore shot. It is best suitable for dry to combination skin. They have other variants in this range such as Matte and Luminous.

Shop here: ELF | Ulta

  1. Elf Cosmetics Hydrating Camo Concealer

e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Camo Concealer, often compared to high-end product’s like Tarte Shape Tape is a medium to full coverage concealer for those pesky dark circles. The new upgraded formula is enriched with hydrating rose water. It is available in 25 shades at $6. Overall, a hydrating, good coverage concealer. Blends smoothly and quite lightweight.

Shop here: ELF | Ulta

  1. e.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil

This $2 brow pencil makes many big names in the eye brow makeup run for money. This longtime bestseller comes with a wide shade range and provides naturally fuller brows. Available in 6 shades, it is easy to work with, and you can get it off easily too. Color intensity is natural, and the brush is nice as well

Shop here: ELF | Ulta

  1. e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighter

Looking for a highlighter for all in one glow? Studio Baked Highlighter is what you need! It is a finely milled no-chunk powder. This highlighter adjusts according to the skin tone and provides instant lift to the face. A good highlighter for sure with nice pigmentation, at just $4!

Shop here: ELF(All shades here)| Ulta

  1. Elf Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation

The 40 shade wide range of Elf Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation is one of the best demi matte foundation in the affordable range. The lightweight formula provides awesome coverage too! These are just $6 and offer good pigmentation.

Shop here: ELF (Find all the shades here!) | Ulta

So, yes! Elf Cosmetics is cruelty-free!

Read more:

Is Colourpop Cruelty Free & Vegan?

Is Neutrogena Cruelty Free &  vegan?

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