Are you interested in vegan friendly and cruelty free makeup? It can be tricky knowing which products contain animal ingredients or have been tested on animals at some stage in the production process.
Choosing vegan and cruelty free cosmetics is very beneficial, these products use plant and mineral-based ingredients which are far better alternatives due to the natural properties - they are also preservative and pesticide free.
This guide should help clear up any confusion around what vegan and cruelty free means, what ingredients that are often included in cosmetics are originally derived from animals and also the benefits of going vegan and/or cruelty free.
What’s the Difference Between Cruelty Free MakeUp and Vegan MakeUp?
What is Vegan?
A product can be vegan without being cruelty free and vice-versa, the definition of vegan makeup is a product that doesn’t contain any animal by-products. A by-product can be an animal ingredient or animal derived ingredient, a good example is that a vegan lipstick should never contain beeswax as this is derived directly from bees.
To most people the term ‘vegan’ should also imply that the product isn’t tested on animals however this isn’t regulated so be careful. A product can be tested on animals and still legally claim to be ‘vegan’.
What is Cruelty Free?
A makeup product that is labelled cruelty free should have been produced without any form of animal testing in the creation and production process. The emphasis is really on the ‘creation and production’ as sometimes a company won’t test the final product on animals but will throughout the production process or use ingredients that have been tested on animals by third party’s.
Sometimes a product might say that it is ‘required by law’ to test on animals to comply with various legislation around the world. Please remember that these products are 100% not cruelty free.
What to Do If I’m Unsure
There are a few things that you can do if you are unsure whether a product is vegan or cruelty free, there are established brands and organisations that provide recognised logo’s to certify that a product has meet strict criteria and you can rest assured in your decision.
The Vegan Action non-profit organisation has the ‘Certified Vegan’ logo and the leaping bunny program formed of several animal protection groups with the ‘leaping bunny’ logo both are clearly visible indicators on packaging that will let you know if a product is vegan or cruelty fee or in an ideal world, both.
If you are still unsure the best thing to do is to contact the company directly, if a company gives you a prompt response clearly stating that the product isn’t tested on animals at any stage or is vegan then you’re good to go. If you receive a response that is unclear or don’t get a response at all then it’s probably best to proceed with caution.
Animal By-Products That Are Often In Cosmetics
There are a few ingredients that are often used in cosmetics which are certainly not vegan, here’s some that you should look out for:
- Collagen – Often used in anti-ageing products due to its plumping and firming effect, collagen is naturally produced in animals. In order to get the protein it is normally taken from dead animal’s bones, connective tissue and skin – definitely not vegan friendly!
- Beeswax (aka cera alba, cera lava) – This is taken directly from a bee hive and can be used in eye shadow, foundation or lipstick. It is taken from worker bees and can take six or more pounds of honey to create just one pound of wax.
- Carmine – Known by many different names such as cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, E120 and carminic acid – phew! This deep red colour is taken from crushed insect body and legs.
- Keratin – Used to give you luscious hair this is a protein that is naturally found in mammals, it’s generally taken from hair, nails and horns.
- Guanine (aka CI 75170) – This gives extra shine and sparkle to your blusher, eye shadow and nail polish. It is created by scraping fish scales off dead fish and soaking them in alcohol to create an iridescent solution.
- Lanolin – Known to be used in lip balms and lotions this is fat is a definite animal by-product, it’s created from the grease in sheep’s hair.
- Squalane – Commonly used in various moisturisers and cosmetics this ingredient is made from the oils found in the liver of sharks.
Vegan and Cruelty Free Makeup Brands
Here’s a group of beauty bloggers discussing their views on vegan beauty.