Illamasqua is all about using high-quality cosmetics to explore self-expression with an anti-conformist attitude. While the brand is proudly cruelty-free, we want to know if it could ever go vegan since using highly pigmented colors is its lifeblood?

Illamasqua is cruelty-free. It doesn't conduct animal testing on its products, nor does it distribute its cosmetics where animal testing is required by law. While Illamasqua does offer a range of vegan cosmetics, it is not considered a vegan brand.

Pronounced “Ill-ah-mass-kah,” a combination of the words “illusion” and “masquerade,” this brand is as creative as you’d expect.

Founders Julian Kynaston and Joseph Corré built the cosmetics house to pay tribute to London’s reverent subcultures like the punk-rock movement. With Corré being Vivienne Westwood’s son – what else would you expect?

Animal testing has been a huge no-no for the brand since it launched – but could it ever go vegan?

Let’s see what the future holds for Illamasqua as it relies so strongly on its fervent color palettes (that often use animal-derived ingredients).

Is Illamasqua Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Illamasqua cruelty-free cosmetics

Illamasqua is 100% Cruelty-Free

It does not:

  • Test any of its products or ingredients on animals;
  • Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain; or
  • Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.

Illamasqua is classified as cruelty-free with accreditation PETA. While this is a great start, it’s not the gold standard of cruelty-free certification. We’ll explain why later.

Fortunately, the brand is owned by THG (The Hut Group). They want to uphold Illamasqua’s cruelty-free status and ensure they are never associated with animal testing.

This brings us to our next point:

Illamasqua is Not Vegan

Unfortunately, Illamasqua is not vegan. But not all hope is lost – the brand has an extensive range of vegan products that seems to be growing.

Illamasqua has 150 products and shades of vegan cosmetics, that are easy to find as the website has a whole category dedicated to vegan products (that’s actually accurate).

Every now and then, the brand will also label a vegan product with a green “v” stamp next to its picture – but this isn’t consistently seen, so we wouldn’t rely on it. 

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients used in cosmetics that you might find in Illamasqua products include:

  • Honey & beeswax – these ingredients pose many health benefits to your skin and wellbeing. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with essential vitamins.

    Just because beeswax isn't vegan, it doesn't mean it can't be cruelty-free. Find out more here: Can Beeswax Be Cruelty-Free?
  • Carmine – this ingredient is the red pigment made from the crushed female cochineal insect. A little gross, no? But it is completely harmless and is used in makeup to get those rouge tones.

    To find out why carmine is so cruel and the shocking amount of products that use it, you need to read this: Is Carmine Cruelty-Free and Vegan?
  • Lanolin – this ingredient, like honey and beeswax, is used in skincare and cosmetics because it is incredibly hydrating. It is basically the waxy oil that comes from sheep wool. Lanolin can be cruelty-free – follow this link for more details.
  • Squalane ­­ is a cosmetic ingredient predominantly harvested from sharks' livers but can also be derived from plant sourced.

    Squalane is a great ingredient because it mimics your skin's natural oils. It's anti-inflammatory, packed with antioxidants, and non-comedogenic.

If you're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Illamasqua vegan products.

Animal Testing Policy and History

Illamasqua has been committed to creating high-quality, professional-grade, and exclusive cosmetics that are also cruelty-free. This has been its intention since it was founded in 2008.

One point to animal lovers everywhere!

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

Here is a screenshot of Illamasqua's official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from their website:

Illamasqua cruelty-free website claim


Illamasque is PETA certified, which is not a bad start. It’s also covered by the UK legislature, which states that it is illegal to test any cosmetics on animals in the country.

However, seeing more certification from them would be nice since they’re a proudly cruelty-free brand.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations. It seems only to require a brand's written consent that abides by the PETA code of conduct.

Certification from Leaping Bunny is ideal because it holds rigorous standards and does regular audits to ensure they are upheld.

The Leaping Bunny association is very strict and reliable, which ensures that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products they sell.
  • No animal testing is conducted by the brand suppliers or on their ingredients or formulas.
  • No animal testing is done by someone else that the company itself paid for.
  • Any other form of testing (beyond ingredient and consumer safety), such as worker safety and environmental health, is considered and evaluated.

If you see a bunny stamp on the back of your product bottle – that's a good reminder that Illamasque is PETA certified. But don't let the image itself fool you. A lot of brands are using fake logos to deceive consumers.

Do your homework and see which products are genuinely cruelty-free first. This article will help you: Which Cruelty-Free Logos Can You Trust?

Is Illamasqua Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Illamasque does not distribute its products to China or any country requiring animal testing on cosmetics by law.

However, Illamasque does allow you to purchase cosmetics online and ship them directly to consumers in mainland China.

This means that products will not be tested before arriving at a shopper's delivery address.

China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used per year.

However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes.

Here’s how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

What Illamasqua Products Are Vegan?

Illamasqua offers a wide variety of vegan products that don’t compromise on quality.

One of the most popular animal-derived makeup ingredients brands like to use is carmine. Its crimson hue gives makeup a vivid color that is hard to replicate using vegan ingredients.

Luckily Illamasqua has found a way to offer an extensive range of brilliant vegan colors that are just as effective.

To save you some time, here are some of Illamasqua’s most popular and award-winning vegan products to choose from:

  • Raven Masquara
  • Spectacular Face Palette
  • Hydra Veil PrimerSkin Base Foundation
  • Colouring Eye Pencil
  • Beyond Powder- OMG

You can visit their website for a complete list of Illamasqua vegan products, you can visit their website.

Vegan Alternatives to Illamasqua

We love the vegan products that Illamasqua has made so far.  They’re all about developing effective alternative formulas at mid-level prices.

But at this stage, the brand has made no further claims about going completely vegan.

So if you want to support a company that’s 100% vegan or at least making an effort to get there – Illamasqua might not be your first choice.

Here are some similar vegan alternatives you can look at that are within the same price range:

Is Illamasqua Natural and Organic? 

Illamasqua does claim to use safe, simple ingredients. However, it is not considered natural or organic.

Its whole ethos is to make effective formulas and products that anyone can use for self-expression.

Clean vs. Natural Ingredients

The term "natural" is not regulated for cosmetics and skincare. In other words, it doesn't hold one specific meaning.

Usually, it means a product is free of certain more toxic synthetic ingredients, including parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and more. But people also interpret "natural" to mean ingredients of immediate plant origin.

Here's the thing: "natural" doesn't mean it's good for you. Take gluten, for example. It's a natural protein in wheat that certain people are highly allergic to. Even topical application can lead to terrible health issues.

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. Illamasque is no exception – but it can choose to use better or clean synthetics.

If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.

Does Illamasqua Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, Illamasqua has a 91-100% allergen-free ranking for each product. This is quite impressive!

Many Illamasqua products are free of allergens such as top common preservatives, parabens, lanolin, MCI/MI, gluten, nickel, coconut, soy, propylene glycol, oil, and dyes.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Illamasqua is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.

However, certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs.

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

As a conscientious shopper, you must read up on any brand's ingredient list before making a purchase – especially if you live in the United States.

This is because the FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the country. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Given that Illamasqua is a UK-based brand with strict ingredient policies – you don't need to worry too much.

But for good measure, here are the ingredients you want to avoid with skincare and cosmetics:

  • Butylated compounds,
  • Benzophenone compounds, 
  • Carbon black,
  • Triclosan,
  • Phenoxyethanol,
  • Formaldehyde, and
  • Lead or other heavy metals.

Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?

If you’re worried about how safe it is to use cosmetics not tested on animals – please relax and take a sigh of relief.

There is no reason why cruelty-free products shouldn’t be as safe as anything tested on animals.

Not only is it easy to test ingredients without using animals altogether, but there are so many pre-approved ingredients you can use to make cosmetics that there is no need.

If you’re interested, here’s more on the subject: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?

Is Illamasqua Sustainable and Ethical? 

Illamasqua doesn’t market itself as a sustainable brand. It does have “Beauty Not Brutality” as one of its brand pillars, so ethical initiatives are paramount to the company's values.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Creates ethically developed products.
  • Has a recycling program to lessen its impact on the planet.
  • Strives to do more to help people.

It's no secret that the world has a huge waste problem, and cosmetic brands only make it worse by using unsustainable packaging and harmful ingredients.

Some of the ways Illamasqua is taking strong environmental accountability are by:

  • A free-to-use recycling program to divert hard-to-recycle makeup packaging (that isn’t recyclable at most UK plants) from landfills – it’s called RecycleMe.
  • Supporting LGBTQI+ artists and creators with paid campaigns.
  • Having strict policies against modern-day slavery.

Illamasqua’s parent company, THG, has these sustainability initiatives in place:

  • Is a carbon-neutral company (how often do you hear that?)
  • Launched the RecycleMe scheme across brands, encouraging all customers to recycle used products.
  • Ensures water is sustainably used in high-impact parts of the supply chain.
  • Is part of SEDEX, an ethical trade membership organization.

In saying this, Illamaqsua could definitely take more accountability in the following ways:

  • Using more natural ingredients and biodegradable formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Using ethically mined MICA sourced without the use of child labor.
  • Developing more sustainable products, shipping boxes, and recyclable bags.
  • Having green initiatives like net-zero greenhouse gas emission policy, carbon-neutral shipping, or renewable energy use in manufacturing.
  • Using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified).
  • Improving their packaging sustainability with FSC-certified PCR boards.

Final Thoughts

Illamasqua has become an award-winning cosmetics brand that considers a few ethical factors. The fact that they are cruelty-free is a step towards a more sustainable future in cosmetics.

We appreciate that it is transparent with its consumers about its testing, purchasing, and distribution policies.

Of course, since Illamasqua is not 100% vegan – it might not be the best choice for activists who go the extra mile. Especially since the brand also uses palm oil as an ingredient, and we can’t say if it's sustainably sourced.

But we wouldn't shut it down so quickly if we were you. 

One of the main things Illamasqua is proud to support is societal subculture. This exclusive brand is developing and listening to your needs, so keep following its movements.

It might not be vegan today, but if enough people encourage the transition – it could happen tomorrow.

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