For many vegans, animal-free beauty is a no-brainer.
And while bacon bits aren’t lurking in beauty products, you might be surprised what is. For example, beeswax is used in mascaras and lip balms to help attract moisture, while carmine (cochineal)—made from crushed insects—lend red and pink hues to lipsticks.
As veganism generates more interest, a growing number of beauty brands are reformulating products to meet a growing demand.
Vegan Beauty Products in the Mainstream
Vegan cosmetics is a trend that sustainability expert Ashlee Piper hopes becomes more the norm. She says the more that concerned, conscientious consumers support companies that treat animals kindly, the more the industry as a whole recognizes those consumers as a viable, money-spending demographic.
“Now that pioneering companies have proven that you don’t need animal testing or ingredients to create amazing product offerings, I feel the sky's the limit and we have no other choice but to move in that direction,” she notes.
At age 11, Piper found a pamphlet about animal testing and committed to using cruelty-free cosmetics (meaning products aren’t tested on animals whatsoever). Later on she became an ethical vegan, and now uses only cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics, as well as personal care and home care products.
“I was like, ‘I’m not wearing leather or eating animal products, so why would I slather lanolin or carmine on myself?’” Piper says.
Piper, who has sensitive skin, says she notices vegan products tend to be more transparent about their ingredients, in addition to being more natural overall, and her skin responded well to the transition.
While the Federal Drug Administration hasn’t laid out guidelines for vegan makeup, it typically means products that don’t contain animal and animal-derived products such as beeswax or milk.
Vegan Products and Your Skin
Holistic aesthetician and nutrition counselor Susie Fryar uses all-vegan products at her Hawaiian spa, Glow Raw World. Her clients, she says, notice an instant difference once they switch; they don’t get rashes or irritations, and their skin exudes a new, healthy glow.
Fryar mentions one client who had severe face and body acne that she could not clear even after trying several different beauty routines. Fryar suggested she go with a vegan diet and vegan skincare products; within two months, she says, the client’s skin completely transformed.
“When you use vegan beauty products you are putting a much healthier version onto your skin, and since your skin literally eats what you put on it, the ingredients of your beauty product labels should read like a food product you would eat,” Fryar says.
And much like growing concerns that consumers have about genetically modified food, many are increasing their awareness about petrochemicals in beauty products.
Toxins in beauty products are gaining attention on the research side as well, with scientists at the University of California-Berkeley looking into the long-term effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals often found in personal care products. The chemicals they’re most concerned about include phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone.
Choosing Vegan Beauty Products
If you want to take the animal-free path to beauty yourself, start by reading labels.
Even vegan makeup can contain chemicals, although the majority tend to be organic and don’t test on animals. Harsh chemicals like parabens and sulfates can dehydrate skin and cause it to age prematurely.
And know what you want: Coconut oil, jojoba oil, shea butter and rosehip oil are not only vegan, but hydrating and healing as well.
In addition, look for these seals:
- Leaping Bunny: Created by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, this symbol tells you that no animal testing was involved in a product’s formulation or manufacture.
- Certified Vegan: Created by Vegan Action; the group says this symbol means that a product does “not contain animal products or byproducts and [has] not been tested on animals.”
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.