Is CoverGirl Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

CoverGirl cruelty free

Treehugger / Catherine Song / COVERGIRL

CoverGirl is one of the most iconic cosmetics companies in the world. The beauty giant makes BB creams, eyeshadow palettes, skin care, and just about every cosmetic product you could think of—including the one and only Lash Blast Mascara.

In addition to the affordability of CoverGirl products, people love that they're made responsibly. CoverGirl is certified cruelty free, makes vegan products, and seems to be serious about meeting ambitious sustainability targets.

Since being acquired by Coty Inc. in 2016, the brand has separated itself from some of the criticism aimed at its former parent company, Procter and Gamble, primarily surrounding deforestation. Coty is transparent about its supply chains, ingredients sourcing, and sustainability progress.

Here's an assessment of CoverGirl based on Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: CoverGirl

  • Cruelty Free: Certified cruelty free.
  • Vegan: Not fully vegan but has vegan products.
  • Ethical: CoverGirl's parent company publishes regular corporate sustainability reports and is on track to meet ambitious goals by 2030.
  • Sustainable: CoverGirl and Coty are continuously progressing in the sustainability space, reducing their waste, emissions, and plastic use more every year.

CoverGirl Is Certified Cruelty Free

CoverGirl has been certified cruelty free by the Leaping Bunny Program since 2015 and Cruelty Free International since 2018. In fact, it's the largest makeup brand in the world to feature Cruelty Free International's logo. Cruelty Free International is considered to be the global gold standard, performing regular supply chain audits to ensure animals aren't being tested even at the manufacturer level.

Coty, CoverGirl's parent company, is not totally cruelty free but a Cruelty Free International partner. The company says it's been "developing methods that provide a clear alternative to animal testing" for 25 years and "now uses innovative predictive assessment tools such as in vitro, in silico models and molecular modeling systems which deliver realistic testing conditions."

Vegan CoverGirl Products

COVERGIRL Clean Fresh moisturizer

Courtesy of COVERGIRL

CoverGirl is not 100% vegan, but it does have vegan products. Items included in its Clean Fresh makeup and skin care collections, for example, are all vegan and made without harsh chemicals like sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, and talc. Other vegan items—like the Lash Blast Lash and Brow Serum, Outlast Ultimatte Liquid Lipstick, and Clump Crusher Mascara—are clearly marked.

Items not marked as vegan could contain animal products like oleic acid and glycerin. While it doesn't disclose whether these ingredients are plant- or animal-derived, the brand's cult-classic Lash Blast Mascara—not labeled as vegan—contains both.

CoverGirl's Parent Company Has High Ethical Standards

CoverGirl's parent company is a signee of the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative that provides businesses a framework for sustainability and corporate responsibility. It has its own code of conduct for business partners that addresses human rights, discrimination, forced labor, "conflict minerals," and more.

In a 2021 report, Coty claimed it was sourcing 100% of its mica from members of the Responsible Mica Initiative and said its Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil progress was "pending external validation." Currently, 30% of palm oil used in Coty products is RSPO-certified.

The report laid out goals to achieve gender balance in leadership positions by 2025 and "pay equitably for similar roles and performance regardless of gender" by 2022. As of 2021, its executive committee was largely female, and the company was tracking gender pay equity.

Coty is a signee of the Charter for Change, meaning it reports annually on its progress in direct funding, transparency, equality, and more.

CoverGirl Is Becoming Increasingly Sustainable

CoverGirl is surprisingly sustainable for a brand of its size and price point. Although the beauty giant currently relies on plastic—much of it single-use—to package its products, Coty has ambitious targets for reducing its plastic use, emissions, and waste over the next decade. The company reduced greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 23% and its total energy use by 10% between 2019 and 2021.

Coty aims to recycle 80% of its waste and send none of it to landfills by 2030. Currently, only 0.3% winds up in landfills while 75% is recycled.

In 2021, CoverGirl announced that it was trialing new packaging for its pressed powders that used 35% less plastic. It aims to phase out all packaging that isn't recycled, recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025. Currently, products from the Clean Fresh collection are packaged in Forest Stewardship Council-certified, 80% recycled paper.

Sustainable and Cruelty Free CoverGirl Products

Although CoverGirl may not be the most sustainable company in the beauty industry, it's a great budget option that meets the four pillars of Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards. Here are the brand's most ethical and eco-friendly products.

Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara

COVERGIRL lash blast mascara

Courtesy of COVERGIRL

A vegan alternative to the brand's classic Lash Blast Mascara, this "clean" versionTreehugger's favorite natural drugstore mascara—contains no mineral oil, parabens, sulfates, or talc. It's packaged in 80% recycled paper and comes in four shades ranging from pitch black to black-brown.

Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation

CoverGirl Skin Milk foundation

Courtesy of COVERGIRL

Skin Milk also eschews a slew of chemicals and replaces them with nourishing coconut milk and aloe. It's one of CoverGirl's lighter foundations, similar to a BB cream, and comes in 14 shades from porcelain to dark.

Clean Fresh Skincare Priming Glow Mist

CoverGirl priming glow mist

Courtesy of COVERGIRL

CoverGirl's Clean Fresh edit not only covers cosmetics but also skin care. The rose water and vitamin C-spiked Priming Glow Mist aims to brighten and soothe. The oil-free formula is designed for dehydrated skin.

Clean Fresh Pressed Powder

COVERGIRL pressed powder

Courtesy of COVERGIRL

Talc is a mined ingredient (i.e., bad for the environment) that is sometimes infused with asbestos, and some pressed powders contain up to 100% of the stuff. CoverGirl's Clean Fresh Pressed Powder is talc-free, instead using tapioca and aloe vera powder to absorb skin oils.

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