Everything You Need to Know About Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products

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Let’s face it. Most brands in the beauty industry aren’t vegan. A handful of makeup products that you would find in stores contain animal-derived ingredients, which a lot of people don’t quite realise. But despite filling up the shelves in high-end shops to drug stores each day, regular makeup products may soon slowly lag behind natural, plant-based vegan makeup and products, which are on a slow rise to the top in the beauty world. 

From pallets to creams and concealers and even shampoos and soaps, there is quite a demand for these products for a number of reasons. Check out everything there is to know about the beauty world of vegan makeup products.

Important Facts about Vegan Makeup

The Ultimate Guide: What You Need to Know About Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products

What Counts as Vegan Makeup?

Vegan Makeup is essentially products free of any kind of animal by-products. Labels like ‘cruelty-free,’ ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ don’t automatically make a product vegan. While these factors do describe the nature of veganism, there are a lot more standards to meet for them to be called one hundred percent vegan.

Label Check: The Differences Between Vegan, Natural, Organic, and Cruelty-Free 

Natural and Organic Makeup and Products: Are these Vegan? 

When a product tells you that it’s made with natural ingredients, it technically doesn’t mean that every ingredient came from nature. Natural makeup still has minimal traces of other synthetic substances. Organic makeup, however, takes it one step further than natural makeup. It contains more nature-derived ingredients that are non-GMO, not sprayed with pesticides, and are free of any chemically enhanced fertilizers. Vegan makeup can be classified as organic makeup, though they aren’t necessarily interchangeable. For example, some organic brands would contain pure honey or beeswax, which doesn’t meet the vegan ethical standard.  

Cruelty-Free Makeup and Products

Products that are cruelty-free essentially mean that they are certified to not do any sort of animal testing in the manufacturing process. This also applies to vegan makeup, though similar to organic makeup, cruelty-free makeup is still made out of animal derivatives. To know more about cruelty-free makeup products, check out our other article: “30 Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands to Try.”

Because these labels have descriptions and characteristics that make them similar from one another, they can certainly stir up quite the confusion if you’re not careful. Luckily, there are simple ways to tell if the makeup you’re buying is vegan or not. 

How to Identify Vegan Makeup

3 Ways to Tell if Makeup and Beauty Products are Vegan

1. Check the Label

Branding is everything in the beauty world. So when products really are vegan, it’s something that cosmetics companies would try to emphasise as much as possible. Vegan makeup will often say “vegan” from the get-go, which you could always double-check with the other two ways in this list. 

How to Check Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products

2. Ask the Internet 

When in doubt, do a quick search. There are several blogs and forums online that you can read or join in order to fully know if the product you’re searching for is using vegan alternatives or not. PETA has a database online that has a list of selected items that are cruelty-free. Usually, products also contain the bunny logo as an indicator of an approved product.

3. Read the Ingredients List

Unless you’re a true expert in the world of cosmetics, you probably won’t be able to tell if the ingredients listed at the back of your beauty products are animal derivatives. That is because unlike food labels that blatantly state the animal by-products in the allergen information, makeup labels specify what kind of substance is in it without necessarily saying where it comes from. When looking for vegan makeup and beauty products, there are ingredients that you need to avoid.

22 Non-Vegan Ingredients You Need to Check

  • Collagen

Present in a lot of anti-ageing products, collagen is said to have skin repair qualities such as increased hydration and support skin elasticity. Collagen is taken from animal tissue or ligaments, often from cows. 

  • Glycerine

This component in makeup is known to make skin soft and supple for healthy-looking skin. It is generally drawn from animal fats.

  • Lanolin

Lanolin is used for moisturising, usually found in lip balms and lipsticks. This emollient is derived in sheep’s wool.

  • Casein

Also written as Caseinate or Sodium Caseinate, this protein is predominantly found in facial treatments and conditioners. It generally comes from cow’s milk.

  • Squalene

This emollient is used as a natural antioxidant for anti-ageing. Squalene is taken from shark liver oil. 

  • Guanine

Found in many eyeshadow, highlighters, and bronzers, this crystalline is usually gathered from fish scales.

  • Tallow

This emollient is found in animal fat and is also written as Oleic Acid in most products. It can be found in liquid and bar soap, skin products, nail polish, and hair perming treatments. 

  • Carmine

Also written as cochineal, natural red 4, E120, and C.I. 75470, Carmine is a red colourant often used in blushes, lipsticks, and nail polish It is derived from insects.

  • Keratin

Keratin is often marketed as one of the most effective substances for smoothing hair. It can be found in top industry per products, shampoo, and rinses. This ingredient is extracted from horns, feathers, quills, hair, fur, and ground hooves. 

  • Retinol

Known as a powerful source of vitamin A, retinol is found in many skin anti-ageing products. It can be extracted from several animal sources such as full-fat milk, fish, meat and eggs.

  • Polypeptides and Progesterone

These two compounds are commonly found in age-defying products and anti-wrinkle creams. While they can be made synthetically, most are often derived from animal by-products.

  • Lecithin

Found in creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, lipsticks, and other waxy cosmetics, this wax-like substance found in nervous tissue like milk and blood, but often derived from eggs. 

  • Shellac

Shellac is often used in hair lacquers and nail polish for that shiny finish. It is specifically derived from the Lac bug.

  • Stearic Acid

This type of acid can be found in deodorant, soaps, moisturisers, and hair products. It is taken out of pigs’ stomachs. 

  • Placenta

Oddly enough, placenta has become less disturbing to think about when it is placed in products such as those for anti-ageing, shampoos, masks, soaps and other hair treatments. This ingredient, however, does come from pregnant mammals to provide nourishment to their fetus. 

  • Ambergris

Ambergris is found in many perfumes as a fragrance fixative. It is made primarily in a whale’s intestinal tract and is taken from their excrement. 

  • Polysorbates

This emulsifier is a fatty edible acid found in a range of cosmetics. 

  • Elastin

Also used in products that use collagen, Elastin is a protein that can strengthen skin and increase elasticity. 

  • Cholesterol

Cholesterol isn’t just found in food apparently. Some cosmetic products such as eye creams, shampoos, and hair cholesterol include this animal derivative. It is usually extracted from blood, nervous tissue, fat, and eggs. 

  • Lactic Acid

Exfoliators are the most common products that contain this acid. It is derived from both muscle and blood tissue from animals.

  • Cera Alba (Beeswax)

Beeswax is used to keep emulsions from separating. It can also be found in most mascaras, lip balms, hand creams, moisturisers, and even moustache creams for men. As the name implies, this wax is extracted from the honeycomb of bees, which is also used in a number of candles and polishes.  

  • Honey

Honey is found in several organic beauty products including face masks, moisturisers, and soaps. It is known for helping acne, boosting skin complexion, and anti-ageing. It is, however, taken from bees.

NOTE: Several of these ingredients, however, aren’t all necessarily derived from animals. Some of these components come with vegan alternatives. Some are synthetically made, others have soya versions or are extracted from vegetables and plant oil. To be sure, you can always verify these ingredients with the last item on the list.

With so many ingredients to look out for, it may seem like too much work trying to look for vegan alternatives for your favourite makeup and beauty product brand, when it really isn’t. Vegan makeup and beauty products come packed with several benefits that will help you out in the long run.

Benefits of Vegan Makeup

7 Perks of Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products

1. Avoid Harmful Chemicals

The chemicals and synthetic compounds in non-vegan makeup are meant to extend their shelf life. Extra components can also make them waterproof, smudge-proof, and longer-lasting. Introducing your skin to these chemicals can cause some serious damage to the skin. Plus, with all the scientific terms all packed in the ingredients list, you may not really know what’s going on your skin.

Vegan makeup and products are all-natural and filled with less chemical ingredients. They may contain fewer ingredients, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not as effective. In fact, natural ingredients maybe even more effective compared to synthetics.

2. Stay Free from Long-term Side Effects 

Regular makeup’s chemical structure may damage skin over time, especially when used excessively. Since vegan makeup is almost chemical-free, this reduces the chance of skin damage over time. 

Safe Natural and Organic Skin Care

3. Lower Your Chance of Skin Irritation

Regular cosmetics and beauty products may contain substances such as preservatives, dyes, and fragrances that can cause irritation and contact dermatitis. Knowing the substances in vegan products don’t contain such chemicals certainly lowers your risk.

4. Protect Your Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is something that a handful of people have to deal with. So if you have skin prone to acne, dryness, flare-ups caused by allergic reactions, or more than one of the three, you don’t have to stray away from beauty products anymore. Switching to vegan products may do you some good. Vegan products come with fewer ingredients and may calm down flare-ups and pores will stay unclogged. Plant-based ingredients are also softer on the skin, which makes it ideal for skin prone to Eczema. 

Vegan Makeup and Cosmetics for Sensitive Skin

5. Take Advantage of Healthy Natural Components

A Natural Skin Health Boost will benefit you from years to come. Natural ingredients such as shea butter, avocado oil, and jojoba oil come with benefits to your skin health including skin softening, hydration, and reduce redness. 

6. Lessen Odour-induced Stress

Some cosmetics and beauty products come with fragrances that can sometimes be very overpowering. These odours are meant to either mask the scent of other ingredients or make it the signature of their brand. Strong scents, however, can cause some people migraines. Vegan products are often odourless and come with natural fragrances that won’t trigger the stress of strong odours.

Environmental Benefits of Vegan Makeup

7. Help Protect the Environment

Not everyone can agree on a total vegan lifestyle shift, but taking one for the environment can surely do everyone some good. Besides being cruelty-free, vegan products also reduce the need for animal by-product and come in recyclable pallets and containers.

Must-Try Vegan Makeup and Cosmetics

8 Must-Try Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products

1. Alima Pure Liquid Silk Foundation

Alima Pure Liquid Silk Foundation

Alima Pure Liquid Silk Foundation is one of the top vegan product choices, being somewhere in the middle of a moisturising liquid foundation and bb cream. This foundation can blend seamlessly on skin, enhancing it to look healthier and much more natural. 

With 5 different shades for all types of skin tones, this foundation can create a fresh and natural-looking glow with the desired coverage.

2. Ilia Beauty Concealer

Ilia Beauty Serum Concealer

Concealer is one of the most basic makeup staples that is quite difficult to turn vegan. Luckily, Ilia Beauty came with a formula packed with botanicals that are gentle on skin. With Aloe and Coconut Oil for soothing and hydrating, the Ilia Beauty Concealer can help boost complexion. The Green Tea Extract and Arnica in the formula also helps calm inflammation. 

This concealer is available in 6 shades for all types of skin tones. It is 100 per cent natural, 35 per cent Organic, and gluten-free. 

3. Lilah B. Virtuous Veil Concealer & Eye Primer

Lilah B. Virtuous Veil Concealer & Eye Primer

The Lilah B. palette acts as both a concealer and eye primer that creates brightened and flawless complexion on the skin and holds the product together well when applied over. This skin hydrating concealer and primer is made from sea fennel, agar, and aloe, which also contains moisturising and skin energising effects. 

This product as well as all others from Lilah B. is gluten-free and does not contain any synthetic fragrances or Parabens.

4. RMS Beauty Madeira Bronzer Luminizing Powder 

RMS Beauty Luminizing Powder

Full-on glam looks wouldn’t be complete without a touch of sparkle. The RMS Beauty Luminizing Powder gives that glow in a silky, shiny finish. This baking powder sets itself apart from the rest by being pressed, which preserves their healing nutrients. It is also free from soy, nano, GMO, synthetic sunscreen and comes in 3 different shades for 3 different looks.

5. Ilia Beauty Eyeshadow Palette and Eyeliner

Take your look to the next step by incorporating killer eye makeup to the mix (with no animals harmed during the process). As always, Ilia Beauty has the essentials for a perfect eye look with the Ilia Beauty Eyeshadow Palette and the Ilia Beauty Gel Liner

Ilia Beauty Eyeshadow Palette

The eyeshadow palette is glen-free and talc-free. With 6 shades, there are 4 Matte colours, one Bronze, and a Dark Violet Tonal Shift.

Ilia Beauty Gel Liner

The eyeliner has a clean formulated and carbon black free soft tip gel that makes blending out easy before setting. This vegan beauty product is surprisingly water-resistant and stays put once it sets. It is also gluten-free.

6. Axiology Lipsticks

Axiology Lipsticks

Your look just wouldn’t be complete without a good lip. Axiology is a vegan lipstick brand that does bold colours that will make you stand out from the rest. It contains vitamin E oil and mango-butter rich in antioxidants that protects the lips from the elements. Organic oils like coconut, grapeseed, avocado, grapeseed, and castor seed moisturise lips, making them softer and well-nourished. It also contains candelilla, a vegan alternative to beeswax that helps retain the moisture and aids with smooth application. 

Axiology lipsticks also come with a light and fresh sweet orange scent to soothe dry, chapped, and irritated lips. It doesn’t fade, but it won’t stain as well. 

7. Coola Makeup Setting Spray

Coola Makeup Setting Spray

Get set and go anywhere without worrying about your makeup fading away. Vegan setting sprays like Coola gives you the opportunity to go the whole day without constantly retouching. With less harmful substances found in this setting spray, you can surely enjoy your everyday makeup free from worry. 

Coola’s formula is consist of plant stem cells that are formed to protect skin with strong anti-oxidants. It has been formulated to reduce skin dryness and reinforce the skin barrier. With algae extract, the skin is left smooth, soft, and hydrated. It also has the essential vitamins and minerals your skin needs. 

This setting spray has a Green Tea scent and is water-resistant. It is more than 70 percent certified organic. 

8. Soleil Toujours Organic Sheer Sunscreen Mist

Soleil Toujours Organic Sheer Sunscreen Mist

Staying out in the sun? The Soleil Toujours Organic Sheer Sunscreen Mist has literally got you covered. With no nanoparticles, parabens, or oxybenzone, this spray-on comes in handy when you’re off to the beach and want protection from the harmful UV-rays of the sun without damaging your skin. 

With an EcoSun Complex formulated with red algae, vitamin C, and other components acting as a natural SPF booster, this ingredient increases skin smoothness as well as decrease wrinkle depth. It also contains green tea extract that aids in UV protection.

Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products

The Verdict: Is Vegan Makeup and Beauty Products Better? 

With the benefits that vegan makeup presents, it’s no wonder why more and more people are flocking towards brands with this label. The advantage that vegan makeup has over regular makeup is the overall effects it has on people with sensitive skin, making it the ideal kind of makeup for the vast majority. The downside is the shelf life, which is much shorter compared to synthetic counterparts that make the products last much longer. There are also fewer selections because of the limited ingredients. Plus, vegan makeup can be a bit pricey. 

But considering all the pros that vegan beauty products have, it may be the best choice for everyone, most especially for those with problematic skin. With the all-natural ingredients plus reduced side effects of long-term makeup use, vegan makeup products are an investment for your overall skin health and beauty.

Getting ready to fill your makeup pouch with high-quality vegan makeup? Alyaka is a leading shop for some of the best vegan and certified organic makeup brands that are available at a fair price range. Shop now at our online store!