If you are familiar with the YouTube makeup scene, then you’re probably familiar with Morphe. Their trendy low-cost makeup appears frequently in beauty tutorials and they’ve gained notoriety from their collaborations with beauty influencers and big brands alike. They were early adopters of influencer marketing, collaborating with vloggers and offering promo codes and sponsorships to get their products out there.
This has inspired a legion of dedicated fans and some of the most successful social media marketing in the beauty industry. But along the way, they’ve also gathered their fair share of controversy.
Many makeup lovers are looking for makeup that isn’t just beautiful but also has ethics that they can support. Cruelty-free, or products that aren’t tested on animals, are greatly in demand. So what about Morphe? Can you feel good about buying their products? The answer, unfortunately, is not quite.
Morphe’s Cruelty-Free Stance
Morphe states on their website that they “don’t condone animal testing” and that they don’t test their products or ingredients on animals. However, the company has not received Leaping Bunny certification or an okay from PETA.
While some beauty bloggers list Morphe as a cruelty-free brand based on what the company says on its website, there seems to be some conflicting information. It’s hard to pin down Morphe’s manufacturing details to be assured that there is no animal testing at any point in the process. It’s also strange that the company hasn’t reached out for certification if they are provably cruelty-free.
All of Morphe’s makeup is produced in China. While mainland China does require animal testing for any cosmetics sold in stores in the country, products made for export don’t necessarily need to be animal tested.
While up-to-date information is hard to find, it seems like Morphe, at least at the beginning, was a private label of Crown Brushes. Their makeup shares the same formula as makeup sold by Crown Brushes as well as makeup sold on AliExpress (a Chinese online retailer). Some of that makeup is sold in mainland China. If Morphe is selling the same products from the same factories, then some of the products and ingredients may have been tested on animals at some point in the supply chain.
To be honest, there is even some question over whether or not Morphe-label products are sold in China. Again, it’s hard to find clear information about the company. On their website, they only list international distributors in European countries, but if you change your location to China, the website provides you with buying options, meaning that there is stil risk that their products undergo post-market animal testing.
Ultimately, most experts, including Cruelty-Free Kitty and Ethical Elephant, have not added Morphe to their lists of approved companies, but consider them to be in a gray area. Until Morphe steps up and gets their certifications to put everyone’s minds at ease, they’re just a maybe when it comes to their cruelty-free claims.
It’s important to know that while Morphe offers vegan cosmetics, not all of their products are vegan. Unfortunately, some of their products that were previously vegan had been reformulated to contain animal products without consumers being notified. The biggest controversy was over their collaboration with beauty influencer Jaclyn Hill.
If you want to shop for products confirmed to be vegan, you can visit their vegan collection page here. Some of their popular primers and concealers are vegan, as well as their versatile lip and cheek color sticks.
Is Morphe Good Quality?
Morphe has a cult following of fans who love their trendy palettes, their brush sets, and their concealers. And for some people, it works well. The prices are also very low, which attracts many people. On average, you can get a 35-shade eye makeup palette for under $30 and a dozen makeup brushes for less than $50.
Of course, when your business model includes constantly churning out new products at a low price, there may be some shortcuts taken in terms of quality. A common criticism of the brand is that there is inconsistency between products, with some very impressive palettes and others that are underwhelming.
Some colors don’t have as much staying power or pigment as others, but of course, everyone’s threshold is different, and everyone has different expectations from their makeup. Here are a few things to consider about their quality before you buy.
Controversial Ingredients and Products
Morphe products contain some ingredients you may want to be aware of if you have allergies, sensitive skin, or simply want to exercise caution when it comes to your future health or the health of the environment.
Talc is the main ingredient in many of Morphe’s powder-based makeup products. For many years people have been concerned with talc’s potential cancer risks, mainly because there is a risk of asbestos contamination in talc. If inhaled, this can be a serious carcinogen. This mineral is currently unregulated for use in the US.
Mineral oil is an inexpensive by-product of refining petrochemicals. While it is filtered and cleaned before being put into any skincare products, it’s important to note that this is not an eco-friendly ingredient. It is impossible to produce this in a sustainable way.
Lanolin can be a deeply moisturizing ingredient. This oily wax naturally occurs in sheep’s wool. When the animals get their yearly haircut, lanolin can be extracted from their fleece. While it doesn’t harm the sheep to have the lanolin washed out of their wool, this is an animal-derived ingredient, meaning anything that contains it isn’t vegan.
While lanolin has been used for most of human history to treat dry, cracked skin due to its similarity to our skin’s natural oil secretions, it can be an allergen. If you are allergic to wool, you are also likely allergic to lanolin. Areas around the eyes and mouth can be particularly sensitive, so when lanolin is included in products like eyeshadows, it can be more likely to cause irritation.
Morphe offers both synthetic and natural makeup brushes. The company got its start as a brush company (potentially as a brush reseller, due to their association with Crown Brushes). Overall, these are decent, budget brush options. They aren’t as soft and smooth as higher-end brushes, but they are hard-wearing.
They hold up well and keep costs low, so if you are a makeup artist who needs to constantly sanitize your brushes, some of the eye makeup brushes are good choices. We’d still caution against many of the powder brushes, which may irritate your client’s skin. If you’re looking for something gentle for personal use, they might be a little rough.
With so much about Morphe, their cruelty-free status, and other manufacturing practices, up in the air, you may want to find a brand you can feel more confident about. Here are two that have some similarities to Morphe, like fun collections and low low prices, but are more transparent.
If you love colorful eye makeup collections and are looking for an alternative to Morphe’s palettes, give BH a try. Their fun, saturated eye shadows help you create bold looks, but you can feel confident about their animal testing policy.
Like Morphe, Colourpop has had a series of exciting collaboration projects. They are also very trendy and release new collections frequently. The company keeps their production based in the US to better control the quality, and they have been certified cruelty-free by PETA.
Feel Confident When You Buy
Morphe has been very clever when it comes to marketing and running their business and has become a prominent name in the online beauty community. But as a company, they’re really hard to pin down. It’s hard to get a straight answer when it comes to their cruelty-free status. While they state they don’t use animal testing, there’s just too much conflicting evidence.
Hopefully, Morphe will pursue Leaping Bunny or PETA certification in the future. This will help build trust between them and their customers. Until then, there are other options that are more trustworthy in terms of their animal testing status, and don’t compromise on price or quality.