Is Urban Decay Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

December 30, 2021

Urban Decay hit the market in the late 1990s in an attempt to cut through the frilly pink makeup brands out there and make something badass but still cruelty-free. So has it kept up with the times by making vegan products too? 

Urban Decay 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 Urban Decay does offer a range of vegan cosmetics, it is not considered a vegan brand.

Urban Decay was founded in 1996 by four entrepreneurs in California, USA. Together – Sandy Lerner, Wende Zomnir, David Soward, and Patricia L. Holmes wanted to build a brand that broke down the mainstream beauty industry and let people get in touch with their edgy or bold side. 

Here's how the brand defines itself: "Reinvention over perfection. Inspiration without replication. Kindness over cruelty."

In 2012, L’Oréal acquired Urban Decay for an estimated $300 - $400 million. 

Before deciding on what to buy, here's what you need to know about Urban Decay's current animal testing policies, vegan ranges, formulation, and sustainability.

Is Urban Decay Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Urban Decay 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.

Urban Decay has a strong cruelty-free message, and it shows. Not only is it PETA certified, but it also has accreditation from Leaping Bunny – this is the only internationally recognized certification that guarantees a brand is cruelty-free.

To top it off, it only offers a range of vegan makeup tools and brushes made from synthetic fibers. 

Vegan makeup brushes are preferred because they are not made using animal hair.

While cutting some fur off a goat can be done in a cruelty-free way, it's hard to find sources that will comply with this. 

This issue stems from the fact that animal hair is usually sourced from countries with few animal welfare policies that are also harder to track from a supply chain standpoint.

You can learn more about this industry here: Can Wool Be Cruelty-Free?

The unfortunate news is that the brand is owned by L’Oréal, which is not a cruelty-free organization as it does test on animals when required by law. 

But the good news is that the brand itself proactively strives to be cruelty-free and vegan. This brings us to the next point:

Urban Decay is Not Vegan

Although the brand is not entirely vegan, Urban Decay has an extensive range of vegan products to choose from, which continues to expand as it eliminates animal-derived ingredients from its formulas. 

If a product is vegan, you'll find the information underneath its picture.

Urban Decay Vegan Website Claim

The two most common animal-derived ingredients that Urban Decay uses include:

  • 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.
  • Beeswax – this ingredient poses many health benefits to your skin and wellbeing. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with essential vitamins.

    However, the brand is slowly starting to use synthetic beeswax instead. So keep reading product labels as your favorite product may be vegan soon. 

    And remember that just because beeswax isn't vegan doesn't mean it can't be cruelty-free. Find out more here: Can Beeswax Be Cruelty-Free

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

Animal Testing Policy and History

Urban Decay has been committed to creating modern, badass and high-performing cosmetics. It's a brand that chooses kindness over cruelty. This has been their intention since it was founded in 1996.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

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


Urban Decay claims to be cruelty-free, and it shows through its extensive accreditation. The brand is both PETA certified, and Leaping Bunny certified. 

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations out there. It seems to only 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.

Leaping Bunny certification proves that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products it sells.
  • 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, are considered and evaluated.

If you see a bunny stamp at the back of your product bottle – that's a really good sign. But don't be fooled by the image itself. A lot of brands are using fake logos to fool 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 Urban Decay Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Urban Decay does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on any cosmetics by law.

While Urban Decay is manufactured in China, it does not test on animals.

This law is purely enforced on international cosmetic products entering China and not on products made within the country itself.

China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most amount of 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 to be aware of. Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

What Urban Decay Products Are Vegan?

Urban Decay has an ever-expanding range of vegan products that doesn't even include its range of synthetic brushes.

Just remember that when it comes to makeup, you need to select the exact shade you'd like to buy to confirm whether it's vegan or not. 

A product's vegan status can depend on its coloring. Anything with a red tone might use carmine and is not vegan.

To save you some time, here are some of its best-selling vegan items to look through: 

  • All nighter setting spray
  • 24/7 Glide-on eye pencil
  • 24/7 shadow
  • Naked cyber eyeshadow palette
  • Vice plumping shine balm
  • Stay naked weightless liquid foundation
  • Inked brow longwear brow gel

For a full list of Urban Decay's vegan products, you can find them listed here: Urban Decay Vegan Product List 

Vegan Alternatives to Urban Decay 

Overall, Urban Decay is a great option for vegans and provides great alternatives that other brands haven't cared to try yet. It has a clean track record and noteworthy transparency with its consumers.

If you will not support a brand that isn't entirely vegan – it might not be your first choice.

If you're looking for 100% vegan brands that are sustainable, here are some great options:

  • KVD Vegan Beauty, 
  • Bite Beauty, and 
  • Milk Makeup,

Is Urban Decay Natural and Organic? 

Urban Decay is not a natural or organic brand, but it claims to use safe ingredients.

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

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

With makeup, here are some ingredients you really want to avoid:

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

From what we can see, Urban Decay stays clear of all these chemicals. But we still recommend checking ANY cosmetic's ingredients before buying it. 

Does Urban Decay Use Safe Ingredients?

Urban Decay has a good spread of safe and clean ingredients that can benefit your skin. It also avoids using anything that could be harmful.

According to Skin Safe, Urban Decay has an 82% - 100% allergen-free ranking for each product. 

Many of Urban Decay's products are free of allergens such as common preservatives, irritants, gluten, nickel, fragrance, parabens, soy, MCI, fragrance, propylene glycol, and lanolin.

While the brand is not hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, it offers a range of suitable products for these skin types.

Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?

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

There is no reason why cruelty-free products shouldn't be just as safe, if not safer, than anything tested on an animal.

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 really is no need.

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

Is Urban Decay Sustainable and Ethical? 

Although it strives to be ethical, Urban Decay does not openly speak about sustainability as much. 

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

So it's a pity that Urban Decay has not created any public initiatives around preserving the planet or being respectful to the people on it. 

Urban Decay doesn't mention anything about:

  • Supporting sustainable Mica mining.
  • Incorporating various recyclable and recycled plastic, glass and cardboard materials in its packaging.
  • Eliminating plastic packaging where it can (or using recycled options).

Without more information, we don't know where Urban Decay stands and if it's keeping up with the times and demands of modern consumers. 

However, it must follow certain sustainable protocols as a brand under the L’Oréal umbrella – who has donated 100 million euros to the regeneration of ecosystems and 50 million euros in support of highly vulnerable women.

Some of its protocols include:

  • Fighting climate change – one of the biggest ways is by cutting down CO2 emissions from plants and distribution centers.
  • Managing water sustainability – by reducing the amount of water used in plants and distribution centers and creating "waterloop factories" where industrial water is retreated, recycled, and reused within the loop.  
  • Preserving forests – Using palm oil certified by the RSPO sustainable palm oil system. Considering how much harvesting palm oil is contributing to deforestation.  

Final Thoughts

Overall, Urban Decay is a well-developed cosmetics brand that considers various ethical factors. The fact that it is cruelty-free is a step towards a more sustainable future in cosmetics. 

We appreciate that it has a transparent supply chain and is open to the public about its testing, purchasing, and distribution policies. 

It's also fantastic that it is a dedicated cruelty-free brand with various certifications to back it up – including Leaping Bunny.  

Since Urban Decay is not 100% vegan – it might not be the best choice for activists who go the extra mile, especially since it doesn't have any clear sustainability initiatives of its own, aside from what L’Oréal implements. 

While its products may require a little bit of saving, they're not astronomically expensive. So if you can save up a bit, we believe it's a brand worth supporting. 

Is Too Faced Cosmetics Cruelty-Free and Vegan?
Is Versed Cruelty-Free and Vegan?
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}