Is Milani Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

Milani makeup products, from left: Make It Dewy setting spray; Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer; bronzer; Glow skin tint; Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer

Treehugger / Lindsey Reynolds / Milani

Milani was founded in 2001 by Los Angeles art teacher Lauri Minc, who aimed to bring inclusive makeup to the drugstore market. The brand's signature Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation has one of the biggest shade ranges out there—including 45 hues from alabaster to truffle. Its mission remains "to deliver prestige quality products at affordable prices that fit the needs of every skin tone, look, and attitude" still today.

Milani's values stretch beyond inclusivity, too. The brand is also dual-certified cruelty free and more than half vegan. It protects the environment by avoiding ocean-polluting plastic microbeads and more, but the brand does use some questionable ingredients. Learn more about Milani's ethics and sustainability so you can decide whether its superbly accessible, melanin-friendly cosmetics are right for you.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: Milani

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by PETA and Leaping Bunny.
  • Vegan: Vegan products make up almost 70% of Milani's range.
  • Ethical: The sources of mica, palm oil, and other problematic ingredients remains undisclosed.
  • Sustainable: Avoids plastic in product formulations but not packaging.

Milani Is Leaping Bunny-Approved

Milani has been certified cruelty free by Leaping Bunny since 2014. A blog post by the brand clarifies the term "cruelty free" and the process it went through to obtain certification. Leaping Bunny requires brands to "sign an agreement that states that they will not and have not in the past test on any animals during any stage of the development of their product," the blog post states. And all the brand's ingredient suppliers must do the same.

Milani has also been certified cruelty free by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies, a program known to be less thorough than Leaping Bunny. Although the brand is sold internationally, in 75 countries, it is not sold in mainland China because of Chinese animal testing requirements.

Milani Is Vegan-Friendly

Milani says "using vegan formulas is a foundational element to who we are." The brand offers roughly 120 vegan products, which is almost 70% of its total range. These items are listed on the website under their own section conveniently accessible from the homepage.

In addition to complexion products, skin care, mascaras, liners, and powders, the brand's two makeup brushes are also vegan-friendly, made from synthetic fibers rather than real animal hair.

Milani products that are not vegan might contain beeswax (labeled "cera alba"), carmine (an insect-derived red dye), and/or lanolin (oil from sheep's wool). The squalane it uses comes from plants, not sharks.

Ingredients Sourcing

Though cruelty free and exceedingly vegan-friendly, one thing Milani lacks is transparency around controversial ingredients like palm oil, mica, and shea butter. All of these ingredients have been linked to human rights issues including exploitation, trafficking, and child labor.

Mica, the mineral dust widely used to add shimmer to makeup, is mined primarily in India. Repeated contact with this dust can lead to lung disease, including the namesake mica pneumoconiosis, and other medical problems. Likewise, pesticides in the palm oil sector wreak havoc on factory workers, even believed to cause nose bleeds and skin irritation.

One way to know your cosmetics are made with ethical and sustainable mica and palm oil is to source products that comply with the Responsible Mica Initiative and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Unfortunately, Milani is not a member of either and did not respond to Treehugger's requests for clarity around ingredients sourcing.

Milani and Plastic Pollution

Plastic is a serious problem in the cosmetics industry. According to Zero Waste Week, 120 billion units of plastic are produced globally each year just for makeup.

Unfortunately, Milani isn't doing much to combat the problem on its own packaging front. In its formulations, however, Milani avoids plastic microbeads—a major source of ocean microplastic—and isothiazolinones, powerful synthetic biocides designed to kill any living thing à la pesticides (now, imagine what damage they could do once washed down your drain).

Fan-Favorite Milani Products

OK so Milani isn't perfect when it comes to ethical ingredients sourcing or sustainable packaging solutions, but could you find another mostly-vegan, dual-certified cruelty free brand with the inclusivity of Milani, and at the price of these products? Probably not.

Here are three products Milani fans love.

Baked Blush

Staying true to its name, Milani's "permanently popular" blush is sunbaked on real Italian terracotta tiles. Available in a dozen peach-to-magenta shades, this cheek color is paraben-free and vegan.

Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer

You probably won't find an $11 foundation-concealer combo with the shade range and clean makeup of this cult classic. Vegans beware, though: It contains beeswax.

Make It Last Setting Spray

You may have seen this setting spray gracing the feeds of influencers you follow on Instagram and TikTok. Indeed, it's an influencer favorite. The brand urges you to wear it under or over its Conceal + Perfect Foundation-Concealer for a smoothed-over and longer-lasting finish.

View Article Sources
  1. "Milani." Leaping Bunny Program.

  2. "Cruelty-Free Makeup: Why Is It So Important?" Milani Cosmetics.

  3. "Is Milani Cosmetics Cruelty Free?" PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.

  4. Richards, Guy A., et al. "Mica Dust as a Cause of Severe Pneumoconiosis." American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2002.

  5. Myzabella, Nuruly, et al. "Occupational Health and Safety in the Palm Oil Industry: A Systematic Review." The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2019.

  6. "The Zero Waste Home." Zero Waste Week.

  7. "Ingredients We Do Not Use in Our Formulations." Milani Cosmetics.