Many cosmetic brands are aiming to provide a clean and natural alternative to conventional makeup and skincare by embracing veganism, which means their products don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients. Furthermore, they are also choosing to become cruelty free, meaning that they don’t test their products on animals. Not all vegan products are cruelty free and vice versa, so it is important to distinguish between these buzzwords or philosophies to understand what each of them entails, and what they mean for the general consumer.
What’s the difference between vegan beauty and cruelty free makeup?
Vegan cosmetics are defined as products that don’t contain animal ingredients or animal by-products, or any other animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax and honey. Infact, plenty of animal-derived ingredients are commonly used in the production of cosmetics and such products are labeled as organic or natural without necessarily being more ethical. For example, beeswax is a natural ingredient, but it is definitely not vegan.
Vegan beauty products are all about preventing and eradicating cruelty to animals, so a vegan beauty product mustn't be tested on animals. But this is far from reality. We have grown to interpret the term ‘vegan’ as ‘plant based’ and as a result, numerous skincare products and makeup brands are labelled as vegan because they contain plant-derived ingredients, while they have been tested on animals! So vegan beauty isn't necessarily cruelty free, which means the consumer needs to research a particular product and scan through the ingredients list to make sure that they are buying the right product.
If you’ve seen the popular leaping bunny, PETA or Choose Cruelty Free logos, it means that you are buying cruelty free products that haven’t been tested on animals and don’t contain ingredients tested on animals by another party. Secondly, it also refers to the fact that these skincare products must not be sold in mainland China, as according to the Chinese law, all beauty products require animal testing before entering the market. Secondly, all cruelty free cosmetic brands are not automatically vegan. Cruelty free only refers to the fact that beauty products are not tested on animals, but products may still contain animal-based ingredients like beeswax, carmine, gelatin and more. So, if you are skeptical if a company is actually manufacturing cruelty free beauty products, it is best to check their FAQ section.
What are the vegan ingredients used in beauty products?
The philosophy driving vegan skincare products and cosmetics is that they are purely plant-based. Each ingredient is sourced from plants making them chemical-free and without any artificial additives. Which means anything from vegan skincare to vegan cosmetics are actually beneficial for your skin. Natural ingredients like aloe vera, tea tree, jojoba oils and chamomile have been scientifically proven to have purification benefits and they help to treat acne, prevent your skin from clogging and remove excess oils. Marula and apricot oils have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that work wonderfully on sensitive skin. Plant based ingredients in
cosmetics and skincare products are rich in Vitamin B, C and E and can help in cell regeneration, promising a healthy, natural glow.
So, are vegan products actually better for your skin?
Fact is that your skin absorbs 60% of anything you lather on it. Having said that, animal-based beauty products and skincare contain artificial and synthetic ingredients. They also contain uric acid from cows and carmine from crushed insects which are beneficial to treat certain conditions, but they also tend to clog pores causing mild to severe forms of acne.
On the other hand, apart from being good for the planet, vegan makeup brands and skincare products are great for your health since they are chemical free and reduce the risks of skin cancer and other long-term conditions. Vegan products tend to generally have a shorter ingredient list since they only contain natural materials, making it easier to know exactly what you are applying on your skin or hair.
Reasons to switch to cruelty free makeup products
Some beauty brands justify animal testing by mentioning that it serves a purpose to make sure that their skincare products and makeup are safe enough for humans. However, animals used in experiments are most often confined to cages and live through inhumane conditions -- while the tests are beyond cruel. They are maimed, blinded, tortured and ultimately killed.
However the truth is that there are various alternatives to animal testing to ensure the safety of ingredients. From invitro-testing to cultured cell tissues and computer models, the options today are endless.
Lastly, switching to cruelty free and vegan cosmetics helps you discover products that are healthier for your body. Our skin absorbs everything we feed it and deciphering harsh or toxic chemicals is the need of the hour. Look out for parabens, phthalates, fragrance and harmful chemicals. And while you care for your body, think about cruelty free options that are great for the planet too.