Many people, when deciding to go vegan, look to avoid as many animal products as they can, to avoid the exploitation of animals for our benefit, and to reduce their impact on the environment. In addition to food, this includes thinking about clothing and make-up. We’ve written before about vegan clothing. Cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics are also readily available if you make the effort to look for them.
Many skin care ingredients are manufactured using animal products. Here are some common ingredients that you want to think more carefully about:
Honey – an antimicrobial agent, often used as an ingredient in moisturizers, hair care and other skin care products. It’s undoubtedly beneficial for the skin, but it is not vegan. Honey is created by and for bees. Vegan alternatives include avocado or sweet almond oil.
Milk-derived ingredients – examples include lactoperoxidase, an enzyme found in milk that is commonly used to help restore the skin’s natural flora; lactose, a milk-derived sugar used to condition the skin; and lactic acid, which is commonly used in chemical exfoliants to resurface the skin and balance the complexion.
Egg-white powder – is used to help clean up pores and tone the skin, so it’s a common ingredient in face masks.
Squalene is a lipid that can be derived from plant or animal sources, used to condition the skin. It’s often sourced from shark liver oil. Vegan versions can be sourced from olives, wheat and rice.
Guanine is used as a colorant in skin care products. It is often synthesized from fish scales.
Keratin is a protein naturally occurring in the body, that can strengthen your hair and skin. It is usually sourced from animal hooves and feathers.
Collagen and Elastin are trendy skin care ingredients usually sourced from boiled animal tissue and ligaments. Our bodies make these proteins as we need them, but vitamin C and ginseng applied topically, may support collagen production in the skin.
Carmine is a bright red pigment sourced from chochineal beetles. It is frequently added to makeup and nail products.
Not to be forgotten are your makeup brushes. The fibers for non-vegan brushes are sourced from squirrels, foxes and badgers. Cruelty-free brushes are made using synthetic fibers that are just as soft and effective as animal hair. Traditional makeup sponges can be made from real sea sponges, while vegan versions get the same results.
Fortunately there are many cruelty-free and vegan brands available, some of which have been launched by vegan models and actresses. They can be found online, or at major makeup stores such as Sephora.