Vegan Skin Care – the truth behind the name

A few years ago, if you wanted to make sure the products you are using are 100% vegan, you had to do a lot of research and sacrifice on both quality and prices. There were not many brands committed to the vegan movement, there was very little information available, and the quality of the products was significantly lower compared to the non vegan competitors.


Luckily that is not the case anymore. The Vegan skincare industry has grown, and it has grown strong.


In the 1980s, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were pretty lonely in their attempts to raise the consumers’ awareness. Their campaigns back in the days were quite unsuccessful, especially if we compare them to the global changes in recent years. In fact, 2019 has been declared by The Economist as the year of the vegan. Veganism is a trending topic amongst millennials, with “fully a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans declaring to be vegans or vegetarians.”


The standards that used to be applied only to diet and food choices soon started to apply elsewhere. First in the fashion industry, where wool, leather and silk were not acceptable for vegans. And lately, with the help of social media and some celebrities, people finally started to ask themselves – what exactly are we putting onto our skin?


Of course, the beauty industry, as one of the most profitable industries in the world, recognized the need for products that are animal friendly. According to A Nielsen survey, 43% of respondents said they would pay more for products that have not been tested on animals, while 42% would be willing to pay more for products that do not contain animal products and byproducts.


Today, you have plenty of vegan beauty lines to choose from. Some companies are in it for their moral and eco values, some for the profit. More and more brands these days proudly state on their labels that they are vegan and/or cruelty free.


What is Vegan skin care?


Vegan skincare takes the rules of a vegan diet and applies it to cosmetic products. Basically, vegan skincare products are products that do not contain any animal derived ingredients.


Common skincare and makeup ingredients that are not vegan include: beeswax, honey and propolis, silk, carmine, lanoline, allantoin, gelatin, keratin, collagen, snail slime, squalene, urea and some types of glycerin.

If a product contains any of these ingredients, it cannot be called vegan.


But, “Vegan” Doesn’t Mean “Cruelty Free”?!


Most people who decide to use only vegan cosmetics do so because they care for the animals and their wellbeing. However, just because a product is vegan, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tested on animals. Likewise, a product with a label “cruelty free” can contain animal derived ingredients.


To add to the confusion, there are no global standards and clear guidelines on what products can be called “cruelty free”. For example, the label can state that the product is cruelty free, just because the finished product hasn’t been tested on animals. However, that doesn’t mean that individual ingredients also haven’t been animal tested.


Leaping Bunny Program and PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program are currently some of the most distinguished organizations whose goal is to stop the confusion and shed some light on what is going on behind the scenes of the cosmetic industry. Their certifications make a clear distinction between products that are vegan (not containing any animal derived products) and/or cruelty free (no animal testing has been done at any phase of the production process).


Another common mistake that consumers make is assuming that “vegan” automatically means “healthy” or “natural”. The truth is – just because a product is 100% vegan (doesn’t contain any animal product) doesn’t mean it has to be 100% plant based and natural (it can still contain synthetic chemicals).


Vegan Skincare – Still Developing and Improving…


Not long ago, when the vegan beauty industry was just starting, vegan products were, of course, morally superior compared to the non vegan cosmetics. But that was it. They were by no extension better, safer, of better quality nor they were giving better results.


In fact, consumers that cared about their products being vegan often had to compromise and go with beauty products that used to be underperforming and much higher in prices.


But, things have changed in the last few years. With the development of technology, the newest inventions finally allowed for the products to be able to be vegan and not tested on animals without any sacrificing on the quality.


Beware of the Veganwash……


However, if you are considering to transfer to vegan skincare, be careful. Vegan skincare is still a buzz term, a currently popular movement that many companies would like to exploit. And, since the regulations of the terms “vegan” and “cruelty free” are blurred to say the least, it is easy for these companies to rely on implications and consumers’ assumptions.


Just keep in mind that a label that says “vegan”, means only that, i.e. – does not contain animal derived ingredients. For everything else you care about in a product, such as cruelty-free, eco-friendly, chemical-free, natural, safe or high-quality, you will have to research the product a bit further, instead of assuming that “vegan” includes all these as well.


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Kelly Fielding

Kelly is a passionate writer, enthusiastic yogi and professional sunrise chaser. Kelly has traveled and worked extensively around the world in health resorts, detox centers, and wellness retreats. Specialising in health and wellness, her written work is regularly published in both print and online media. A gypsy heart and lover of nature, Kelly finds inspiration in the world around her and translates her visions into whimsical stories and creative projects.