Affordable High Street CF Makeup Starter Ideas

Sunday, 9 August 2015

I'm glad I went cruelty free, but it can be a bit more expensive and harder for me to find cheap, good products than it was before.  Particularly in the UK, we lack lots of affordable, good drugstore brands that are staples in places like the US, and some of our shops barely have anything to offer at all (hello Boots and your usually-only-2 stands of cruelty free make-up...).  If I'd tried to do this as a teenager, I wouldn't have known where to even look, let alone what products to buy, and I'd be out of pocket pretty quickly once I did find some of what were the only options back in my day!

Thankfully, with Superdrug now being Leaping Bunny approved and stocking brands like B., Sleek and GOSH, being cruelty free is much more accessible and affordable for the average person.  So, I thought I'd do a quick breakdown of some of the cheaper, high street options that I'd either recommend through personal experience or research for anyone looking to start their cruelty free collection.  Since this is a stepping stone for cruelty free beauty newbies, I'll only be talking about specifically 'drugstore' options - the kinds of things you can grab in Boots or Superdrug - rather than stuff you have to go hunting for online with an existing idea of where to look.

FOUNDATION:  As someone who is paper white, foundation is hard to find even when you don't shop cruelty free, so the task is only made harder once all of the major brands are crossed off your list of things you can purchase.  Sleek is well known for offering a good variety of shades of foundation, and all of them are under £10.  They also do CC and BB creams, and an affordable primer.  I can't vouch for these personally as I've never tried them, but they seem to have average or above reviews.  GOSH also do a few different foundations (I really want to try their new Foundation Drops!), as do B. Beauty (the latter of which seems to be friendlier to pale folks).  Barry M also has a Flawless Matte Finish Foundation that has good reviews for only £5.99, although their shades don't vary quite as much.

CONCEALER: The best budget cruelty free concealer I've tried so far is Barry M's Flawless Concealer.  Mine is in the shade Ivory, and while I usually prefer a concealer that's a wee bit lighter than my natural skin tone, this is otherwise a perfect match for my skin.  I was hoping it would be a nice dupe for the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer which is incredible but sadly not cruelty free, and although it isn't quite that, it's still good in its own right.  It's super cheap at £4.49 and with a little bit of blending and layering, concealers dark circles and gives my skin a nice, dewy radiance.

BROWS:  Sleek does a range of good, affordable brow products.  Although I haven't tried them, their Brow Kits are very similar to the one I used to use by ELF which I absolutely loved.  GOSH also do some great brow gels for £4.99.  The one I use is Clear, but for some reason they don't have it on the Superdrug website!  They do also offer a Grey Brown shade though, which is pretty impressive since so many brands seem to not realise that not every brunette is warm-toned.

EYE SHADOW: When I think of cheap but quality eye shadows, I always think of Sleek.  Their i-Divine eye shadow palettes are only £7.99 and offer beautiful colours with great pigmentation for the price.  They aren't as buttery and as easily blended as high end brands, but it's hard to argue with a £7.99 price tag.  The Au Naturel palette is a great nude one with some subtle purples and pinks as well as neutral browns, and is a great natural-looking option for budget, cruelty free eye shadow and make-up beginners in general.

EYE LINER:  The Barry M Bold Waterproof Eyeliner in Black is £3.99 and a good, cheap alternative to some high end options.  For liquid eyeliner though, I love the Soap & Glory Supercat eye liner pen.  It's only £6.00 and is very precise and has a nice, dark matte black finish, but be warned because it can be prone to smudging and bleeding if you have very watery eyes or get really sweaty.  For a nice white pencil for the waterline, inner corners and brown highlight, I use the £2.99 Barry M Kohl Pencil in White.

MASCARA:  Other than my PHB Ethical Beauty mascara, my most-used mascara is the Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Super Volume Mascara, which is £10.00 from Boots.  Sadly, a cheap, cruelty free mascara has been like finding a needle in a haystack - most everything I've tried apart from the aforementioned two (which aren't even that cheap) I've found to be a bit rubbish, and everything I haven't tried has very mixed reviews.  Some products like Barry M's Showgirl Mascara or GOSH's Boombastic XXL Mascara either have great or terrible reviews, but I guess they're always worth trying!

BLUSH:  Once again, I point you to Sleek!  They have by far the most pigmented, easily blended, affordable cruelty free blushes out there in my opinion.  Their bright pink Flamingo single blush for £4.49 is a personal favourite, and their Blush by 3 palettes for £9.99 are also worth a look.  Although it's no longer available to buy due to it being limited edition, I also have their Candy Collection Blush by 3 which includes a cream blush shade and I still love it.

HIGHLIGHT/CONTOUR:  I just bought the new Barry M Radiant Rod and although I haven't properly tested it out and reviewed it yet, at £3.99 it's a great highlighter for anyone who's new to highlighting but wants to give it a go without a hefty price tag.  You could also use this to add a bit of shimmer to your eyelids or inner corners.  Sleek also does Contour Kits with a contour and highlight shade for £6.49 and Face Contour Kits with a contour, highlight and either a blush or bronzer for £9.99.

FINISHING POWDER:  GOSH does a variety of affordable pressed and mineral powders, including their £9.99 Velvet Touch Transparent Primer & Setting Powder.  I haven't tried it since I swear by my Lily Lolo finishing powder, but the fact that you can use it as both a primer and a mattifying setting powder is pretty cool!  For a cheaper option, you could try dusting one of Barry M's Flawless Matte Perfecting Powders for £5.99 over your foundation.

LIPS: My most-used lip product recently is Sleek's Matte Me Liquid Lipstick in Birthday Suit, which is £4.99, comfortable to wear, lasts for quite a while and is a great matte nude shade for everyday wear.  Sleek's True Colour lipsticks also come in a variety of shades and finishes and are only £4.99.  My favourite budget lip product range has to be GOSH's Velvet Touch lipsticks though, they're £6.99 and definitely the best cruelty free, UK drugstore formula I've tried.  I use the shade Nude quite often, and Lambada is a great, warm red lipstick.  They also just released some new matte lipsticks for A/W which I'm dying to try!

And there you have it!  Some cheaper and easier to find ideas to get you started on your cruelty free journey.

Do you have any affordable, CF drugstore recommendations?


  1. This is a great post and I am definitely looking into becoming more cruelty-free with my make-up.
    Also Make Up Revolution is cruelty free according to their website and Twitter and they are amazingly affordable.

    Rach //

    1. That's true, I totally forgot to include them! Their liquid lipsticks are great for the price and I've heard really good things about their highlighters too.

  2. I WISH this post had been around when I went cruelty-free! I've tried products from a lot of these brands but not all of them - I now have a list of products to investigate. I would agree with you that it's a lot easier to find cruelty-free products in Superdrug, and I love that their own-brand products are all Leaping Bunny approved :) xx


    1. Glad you found it useful! It's funny, I used to sweat by Boots before I went cruelty free but now I only go in there for prescriptions haha.

  3. What a great post! I also love Superdrug - it's such a treasure trove of cruelty-free goodies. I hadn't realised Sleek were cf - hurray! Thanks for all the recommendations and tips :)

    1. Thank you, glad you liked it! I must say Sleek does have some mixed reviews about its cruelty free status, I think some people have been satisfied by their email responses while others felt they were being a bit ambiguous, it seems to depend on which cruelty free lists you check. :/ I'm personally happy with the responses I've received and seen and have chosen to trust them but if it's something your concerned about you might want to do look into it and see what you think.

    2. Thanks for that info, Steph!

  4. This is really useful, thank you. I'm currently using up what non cruelty free make-up I have left before I purchase more and I've been wondering if I was going to have to spend a fortune, so this is great. Also I'd have to say that in terms of eyeshadow, Barry M have a couple of really great palettes. Plus MUA have some paletters that are great Naked dupes and are only like £3 or £4.

    1. Glad you found it useful! I've never tried any of Barry M's palettes before but I've been intrigued, and I've always heard great things about the MUA ones too for the price (you can't go wrong for £4) but haven't tried them yet!


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