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Vegan beauty: The best ethical and cruelty-free make-up and skincare

You’ve navigated Veganuary with aplomb and now you’re getting serious about this vegan business.

So how can you carry your love of vegan food into more of your life?

Beauty and skincare are two key areas where people can start making conscious decisions about what they use.

The global vegan cosmetics industry is predicted to be worth a staggering $21.4billion by the year 2027.

It’s a massive growing market and vegan beauty means products are not tested on animals (cruelty-free) and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products.

Most of you will be able to recognise common animal ingredients such as beeswax, keratin and lanolin, but do you really know exactly what they are and how they are derived?

The popular ingredient of keratin, for example, is used for strengthening hair and nails and comes from the skin, bones and connective tissues of mainly farmyard animals such as cows, chickens and pigs.

Lanolin on the other hand is sourced from the oil glands of sheep’s wool for use in lip balms, lipsticks and glosses. However, what do you know about the skincare ingredient squalene?

Did you know that this is an extract of a shark’s liver? Or that the classic rouge colour in your red lipstick and nail polish comes about from crushing insects called cochineals.

We’re also betting you had no idea that your anti-ageing cream probably contains the hormone estrogen, which comes from the urine of pregnant horses.

The list goes on, but thankfully data from Google Trends shows that interest in vegan beauty has been growing steadily worldwide over the last decade and it’s the UK that is leading the way.

A new report released by The Vegan Society has revealed 97% of British shoppers would like to see more vegan- verified cosmetics and toiletries and as of January 2022, the Vegan Trademark has 58,810 products registered, of which 25,981 are cosmetics and toiletries (44%).

This includes make-up, deodorant, skin moisturisers, perfumes, lipsticks, shampoos, conditioners, soap bars and toothpastes with brands such as The Body Shop, Faith In Nature, LUSH and Green People leading the charge.

‘Vegans and non-vegans alike loathe the thought of the beauty products and cosmetics they use being tested on animals,’ says Francine Jordan, Media and PR Officer for The Vegan Society.

‘However, the term “cruelty-free” only refers to animal testing, so an item may be cruelty-free (not be tested on animals), but ironically contain animal ingredients and thus not be vegan. People often confuse the two, which is not surprising, and this is why The Vegan Society encourages vegan product manufacturers to apply for our Vegan Trademark and clearly label their products.’

Thanks to the success of Veganuary (this year the campaign had more than 600,000 people globally officially signing up) and with celebrities such as Fearne Cotton, Deliciously Ella (Ella Woodward) and Ricky Gervais touting the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, veganism is at an all-time high and no longer seen as alternative and hippy.

In fact, 82% of all new vegan items launched in the UK in 2020 came under the beauty category.

In a YouGov survey commissioned by Holland & Barrett last year, 53% of UK adults said they were not confident of identifying a skincare product that contained ingredients derived from animals.

And while The Vegan Society is encouraging the industry to be more transparent about where – or from whom – their ingredients are derived, Francine says doing some research is a good starting point.

‘There are lots of ways animal-derived ingredients can slip under the radar,’ she says. ‘Common cosmetic ingredients including glycerin, collagen, gelatin and lanolin are derived from animal sources or by-products, but watch out for pearl, snail gel, milk protein, cochineal (E120) and tallow, too.

‘Cetyl alcohol might be vegan on a rare occasion but most of the time it comes from sperm whales.

‘Some companies also use latin names for their ingredients, so beeswax could be disguised on a pack as Cera Alba or E901 and colourings and finishes such as carmine – commonly used in red make-up products (manufactured using insects such as cochineal) – which can be disguised under names such as Crimson Lake, Carmine Lake or natural red 4.’

While the industry is going from strength to strength, as with anything, it’s always about supply and demand.

The more we say no to animal products, the more brands will cater for the vegan demand and this can only make it a win-win for both us and the animals in the future.

To start on your vegan beauty journey, give these ethical products a go:

Down To Earth Nail Polish in Power To Change

Change it up

Buy for £12 from Leighton Denny.

Leighton Denny’s nail polishes are vegan and the Down To Earth Collection contains high-gloss, no- fade, chip-resistant shades with 75% of ingredients sourced from plants.

Born To Shine Blush Palette

Cruelty-free glow

Bu for £29 from OPV Beauty.

OPV Beauty create 100% vegan and cruelty-free make-up products. The Born To Shine Blush Palette is six highly pigmented, easy-to-blend hues that work for all ages and skin tones.

Eco Warrior exfoliating bar

Scrub up

Buy for £4.50 from Little Soap Company.

Creating soap bars for all occasions (hands, face, body and head), the Little Soap Company blends essential oils and natural ingredients.

Its Eco Warrior bar contains oatmeal, a natural exfoliant which helps to reduce excess oil and ease skin irritation and itching.

Jelly Bright Essence

Bright stuff

Buy for £13.95 from Boots.

Skin Proud products are all 100% vegan, 100% cruelty-free and PETA-approved. The Jelly Bright Essence is rich in antioxidants and moisture-boosting amino acids.

VitaSkin B Clarifying Mask

Get hydrated

Buy for £15 from Holland & Barrett.

VitaSkin is a vitamin-enriched collection with separate ranges for vitamins A, B and C.

The VitaSkin B Clarifying Mask is 100% vegan and helps soothe and hydrate.

Illamasqua Raven Masquara

Mind your beeswax

Buy for £16 from Illamasqua.

Having replacing beeswax with berry fruit wax, Illamasqua’s Raven Masquara is vegan-friendly and delivers an intense hit of colour and voluminous lashes through its thick, fluffy bristles.

Clean Deodorant Balm

So fresh

Buy for £12.50 from Natural Deodorant Co.

The Natural Deodorant Co. create vegan-friendly scents bursting with essential oils. The Clean Deodorant Balm in orange and bergamot contains antibacterial magnesium and sodium bicarbonate with nourishing coconut oil and shea butter.

FaceGym Active Blast

Up to six times more repairing than traditional collagen

Buy for £45 (seven-day singles) from FaceGym.

FaceGym has launched a vegan collagen skin booster.

Active Blast uses fermented yeast in a super-concentrated form to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, expression lines and hyperpigmentation.

To find out more about The Vegan Society’s Vegan Beauty Takeover Report, visit


Credit: Original article published here.

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