One of the many trends in cosmetics and personal care products in recent years are vegan beauty products. Many companies, particularly those that fall into the spectrum of ‘natural’ and organic tout their products as being vegan. While this is helpful for people who live a vegan lifestyle, it is not always an indicator of quality to those buying natural and organic products. In some instances the word ‘vegan’, just like ‘gluten free’, is nothing more than a ‘creative’ marketing tactic. What exactly are vegan beauty products, what do they offer, and what does this mean for natural and organic cosmetics and beauty products?
The word vegan is used to describe a person that does not eat or use any animal products. Similar to vegetarians, vegans do not eat meat, however, the philosophies diverge as vegans do not eat any other animal products, which include food and cosmetic ingredients such as butter, beeswax, lanolin, lactic acid, and common ingredients like cetyl alcohol and glycerin. Therefore, vegan beauty products are primarily plant based and may contain some synthetic ingredients. Many vegan friendly beauty products are cruelty-free, meaning they not only contain to animals products but are not tested on animals.
VEGAN BEAUTY PRODUCTS
‘Vegan’ doesn’t mean ‘chemical free.’ The quality of ingredients depends on the product, as many companies offer products specifically for their vegan customers. Many of the products featured in Label Poise are technically vegan, but some are not the best quality product available. Determining how ingredients are derived is impossible, unless it is specifically labeled or you contact the company directly. The cosmetic industry has overall moved away from using animal derived ingredients, opting for plant derived, however some ingredients are animal or petroleum derived. Some ingredients, such as lanolin and beeswax are easily identifiable to avoid. The main concerns are in facial cosmetics, such as lipstick, lip balms, eyeshadows, and some foundations, and some hair and skin products.
Lanolin is not as common as in the past, but it is still used in many lip care products, including some that are 99.9% natural, which is not a misnomer but lends to the ambiguity of the word ‘natural.’ Natural has no set definition. Though many tend to think of ‘natural’ as plant based, the term holds no definitive meaning. Beeswax is likely one of the biggest culprits, as it is heavily used to replace synthetic emulsifiers and thickeners in natural and organic products. Beeswax can be found in many lip balms and skin products, though it is not as common in hair products. Some products, such as nail polish, use ‘vegan’ as a marketing tool. Though the products are vegan, nail polish is essentially paint, i.e. chemicals, solvent, and mineral pigment, which typically requires no animals. Though some may have used animal additives in the past, most nail polish brands, even the mainstream ones, are vegan. The difference is that only some of them choose to label or market their products as vegan.
Vegan beauty products are great not only for vegans, but for all consumers who want to ensure that their products do not contain animal products. My preference is for ingredients that are plant derived, though it is difficult to be certain that some ingredients are not derived from animal or petroleum sources if not specifies. Beeswax is not one of my favorite ingredients, nor is lanolin, so this aligns with some of my preferences though the motivation is not the same. As long as the product meets my label poise and is a high quality product, vegan beauty products are friend and not foe. Several of the products reviewed (Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner, Carter Nail Polish, Evvie Nail Polish) on Nature’s Pulchritude are vegan, just by chance! Look out for more posts delving into vegan beauty products!
Do you use vegan beauty products? Why? What are some of your favorite products?