Is bareMinerals Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

bareMinerals makeup and skin care products - lipstick, powder, primer, cleansing oil, night treatment, and mascara

Treehugger / Catherine Song / bareMinerals

Bare Escentuals is one of the pioneers of the "clean beauty" movement. The company is known for its iconic bareMinerals loose powder foundation, launched in 1995, but its bill of beauty has since expanded to nonpowder formats, eyeshadow palettes, lip products, skin care, and more.

bareMinerals prides itself on being clean, green, and cruelty free. It is certified by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program and has a wide range of vegan products. It keeps a laundry list of banned ingredients—including chemical sunscreens and microbeads—and even has a recycling program for empty containers. What's not to love?

Here's how Bare Escentuals' bareMinerals makeup performs under each of Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards so you can be sure the brand is actually ethical and sustainable.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: bareMinerals

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by PETA, not by Leaping Bunny.
  • Vegan: Extensive range of vegan makeup and skin care.
  • Ethical: bareMinerals' parent company is a member of the Responsible Mica Initiative.
  • Sustainable: Restricts 2,500 harmful ingredients and offsets plastic use with a take-back program.

bareMinerals Is Certified Cruelty Free by PETA

bareMinerals says it's 100% cruelty free and "will never waver when it comes to this position." However, the brand has been owned by the Japanese multinational cosmetics company Shiseido since 2010, and Shiseido admits that it does test on animals when required by law. China is notorious for requiring animal testing, but bareMinerals has long avoided the Chinese market unlike other Shiseido brands.

That its parent company still tests on animals could be a major reason why bareMinerals is not certified cruelty free by the renowned Leaping Bunny Program. When asked about Leaping Bunny, a brand spokesperson told Treehugger its registration was "proprietary information."

The brand is certified by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program, and Shiseido has laid out its commitments to finding alternatives to animal testing. The company lists a timeline of its efforts, from 1991 to 2018, on its website.

bareMinerals Has Dozens of Vegan Products

bareMinerals is not completely vegan, but it does have almost 90 vegan products clearly labeled as such on the brand's website. Its plant-based product range features everything from lipsticks to mascaras to the Original Loose Powder Foundation for which it's known.

The brand is admired for its simplified ingredients lists—the powder foundation, for example, lists only five—but sometimes those ingredients include hidden animal products like carmine, a red coloring derived from insects. Several of the makeup brushes are made with natural fibers (i.e., animal hair). Synthetic brushes are clearly labeled.

Is bareMinerals Ethical?

One problem with mineral makeup is that relies heavily on mica, the mining of which has long been associated with child labor in India and Madagascar, where most of it comes from. bareMinerals says it complies with its parent company's Supplier Code of Conduct, which prohibits forced labor, child labor, and human trafficking in its supply chain. The document lays out protections around Indigenous people, migrant workers, and more.

While not mentioned in the code of conduct, Shiseido seems to do its due diligence with regards to ingredients sourcing. The company is a member of the Responsible Mica Initiative and has reportedly been "taking action on improving sustainable procurement." It also supplements natural mica with a synthetic substitute, which "has less social concerns."

Shiseido's ingredient policy says that "all ingredients are ethically sourced to minimize environmental impact and maximize quality and credibility." It addresses specific controversial ingredients such as palm oil, essential oils, silicones, and more.

"We only use raw materials from reputable and socially accountable suppliers who share our views on child labor," a bareMinerals spokesperson said.

Charity Work

bareMinerals founded the Power of Good Fund, whose mission is "to elevate and empower women and girls worldwide by supporting gender equality in literacy and learning." The brand donates 1% of all sales to this cause. So far, it has partnered with Room to Read and Girls Who Code, both supporting girls' education.

bareMinerals' Sustainability Efforts

Its clean, green modus operandi has led bareMinerals to restrict some 2,500 ingredients from its products. More than 1,400 of them are already banned in the European Union. Among them are parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, chemical sunscreens, mineral oil, coal tar, and microbeads. The brand claims to use only things found in nature or "clean synthetics."

While its microbead boycott is much appreciated by eco-minded makeup-goers, bareMinerals still isn't perfect in the plastic department. It continues to sell single-use plastic in the form of disposable eye masks. The good news is that customers can return most plastics via the brand's Give Back Get Back recycling program.

Empties can be sent through the mail or dropped off at any bareMinerals boutique. In-store collection centers accept items from any brand, including facial masks, makeup brushes, and toothpaste containers.

Cruelty Free and Vegan bareMinerals Products

bareMinerals is one of the cleanest, most responsible makeup brands on the big-name beauty scene. With its cruelty free guarantee and constantly evolving commitment to sustainability, you can trust that this mineral makeup is doing its best to reduce its impact. Here are some of its signature products.

Original Loose Powder Foundation

The Original Loose Powder Foundation is what put bareMinerals on the map decades ago. It's made with only five ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, iron oxides, and reportedly ethically sourced mica. It also contains reef-safe SPF 15 for added skin protection.

Strength & Length Serum-Infused Mascara

This mascara, unlike many conventional varieties, doesn't contain beeswax, shellac, or any other animal ingredients. It's made, rather, with red clover flower and peptides that are designed to strengthen and nourish lashes over time.

Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer

Complexion Rescue is skin care meets makeup. It's sheer and dewy and made to improve skin texture with hyaluronic acid and olive-derived squalane. Although it contains many more ingredients than the brand's famous powder foundation, 98% come from plants.