Is Too Faced Cruelty Free, Ethical, and Sustainable?

Too faced makeup products

Treehugger / Catherine Song / Too Faced

Too Faced is the self-proclaimed creator of glitter eyeshadow. Indeed, cofounders Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson brought sparkly lid color to the world in 1998, and it's been a staple of cosmetics ever since.

The brand is vegan-friendly and certified cruelty free, but can it really be called ethical and sustainable when plastic glitter features so heavily? Learn more about the environmental impact of Too Faced and how it performs under Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: Too Faced

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by PETA, not by Leaping Bunny.
  • Vegan: Not fully vegan but vegan-friendly.
  • Ethical: Estée Lauder claims to source "sensitive ingredients" ethically.
  • Sustainable: Microplastics feature heavily in Too Faced formulations.

Too Faced Is Certified Cruelty Free by PETA

Too Faced is not Leaping Bunny-certified, but it's been deemed cruelty free by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program since 2001. Even though the brand was acquired by Estée Lauder, a company that does test on animals, in 2016, PETA says Too Faced hasn't wavered on its cruelty free commitments, pledging "not to enter any market, such as China, where animal testing is required for cosmetics."

Despite Too Faced's continued commitment to nonanimal testing, the highly regarded Leaping Bunny Program does not certify brands owned by parent companies that sell in China unless the acquisition occurred after certification.

Vegan Products

Too Faced's dedicated vegan product page features 26 cosmetics, including the Better Than Sex Mascara, Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, and Born This Way Foundation. The brand makes its lashes with faux mink fur, its mascara with synthetic beeswax, and its makeup brushes with nonanimal hair.

Products outside of the brand's vegan range might include carmine (an insect-derived red coloring), true beeswax, or yogurt powder. Squalene, an oil that can come from either plants or sharks, is also present in a number of formulas. Treehugger reached out for clarification on Too Faced's ingredient sourcing and received no response.

Ethical Ingredient Sourcing

Too Faced makes no claims on ethics beyond being vegan-friendly and cruelty free. Its parent company, Estée Lauder, has faced immense criticism not just for animal testing but also price fixing, tax avoidance, using conflict minerals, and more.

The company publishes an annual social impact and sustainability report, which includes a section on responsible sourcing. The 2021 report said that more than 90% of Estée Lauder's spending with "suppliers of sensitive ingredients" is covered under EcoVadis, an internationally recognized assessor of environmental and labor practices.

The report directly addresses the use of mica, ever-present in Too Faced formulations, and its efforts to avoid child labor in India. Other "sensitive ingredients" mentioned are shea, vanilla, coconut, and palm oil. Estée Lauder claims that 100% of its palm-based ingredients are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Too Faced and Microplastics

A sustainable cosmetics company is one that tries to minimize its impact in a number of ways, from ingredient sourcing to water conservation, from emissions reductions to packaging. Too Faced hasn't publicly disclosed any efforts to become more sustainable and, in fact, continues to use glitter made from plastic.

Hiding behind the mysterious moniker "polyethylene" on ingredients lists, this common plastic is used widely in Too Faced blushes, eyeshadows, and lip products. The brand even received criticism for launching a pure glitter peel-off face mask in 2017. Still, it remains plastic-reliant and—worse—does not advise consumers on the most environmentally friendly way to remove glitter.

Glitter is, of course, a form of microplastic that contributes to our growing pollution problem. When washed down the drain, it winds up in rivers and soil where it disrupts entire ecosystems, from naturally occurring fertilizer to wildlife reproduction.

Too Faced's continued use of nonbiodegradable glitter contradicts its efforts to protect oceans, such as avoiding oxybenzone or octinoxate—the two chemicals known to cause coral reef bleaching—in all products providing sun protection.

Alternative Ethical and Sustainable Brands

Without the transparency and certifications to back it, Too Faced falls short of Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards, but not to worry—other brands are making glitter from plants. That, and other products bearing resemblance to Too Faced best-sellers, below.

Today Glitter for Biodegradable Glitter

Festival-goers don't have to bid goodbye to glitter forever with Today Glitter's plastic-free iteration, made from eucalyptus. The brand uses only Bioglitter, the first glitter proven to degrade in the natural environment. It's also the only glitter FDA-approved for use on lips.

Honest Company for Mascara

The Honest Company's double-duty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer is a sustainable alternative to Too Faced's popular Better Than Sex Mascara. It does not contain mineral oil, paraffin, or microplastics—only clean stuff, like jojoba esters. Vegans beware, though, it does contain beeswax.

Éminence Organic Skin Care for Lip Plumper

Too Faced is known for its lip plumpers. Here's one that's vegan, organic, cruelty free, and made of food-grade ingredients rather than chemicals. Éminence Organic Skin Care's Cinnamon Kiss Lip Plumper is a mix of cinnamon, jojoba, pumpkin seed, pomegranate, blueberry seed, and clove oils, plus a dash of paprika for extra antioxidants.

Clean Faced Cosmetics for Bronzer

You won't find an eco-friendlier bronzer than the one made by Clean Faced Cosmetics, a beloved vegan, zero-waste, and "mostly organic" Etsy shop. This stuff comes in a reusable tin and is made from cocoa powder, turmeric, and ethically sourced white mica—that's it.