What is Vegan Beauty?
Happy New Year, Everybody! With a new year comes a fresh start. Let’s all take a deep breath together. *insert relaxing breath here* Well that was lovely! It’s a time of reflection, personal growth, and positive change. One term you may have heard circling around is “Veganuary.” This is a yearly challenge people embark on to cut out all animal products from their lives for the whole month of January. What might just seem like a fun 31-day challenge at first glance, is really a chance to live a healthier, happier, and conscious lifestyle.
When you hear the word ‘veganism’ what is the first thing to pop into your mind? My guess is that you thought of food. While this is correct, the food you eat is only one part of a veganism. Being a vegan is a complete lifestyle. It consists of the foods you consume, the clothes you wear, and even the beauty products you use. While we might not be thinking of our skincare routines in association to veganism, it is just as much a part of the lifestyle than anything else. Beauty products and companies can contribute to animal suffering without us even knowing it.
So, what is vegan beauty anyway?
Thank you for asking! Let’s get into it. Vegan beauty, in its simplest form, is the practice of using beauty products that do not contain animal products or cause harm to animals. As simple as this may sound, it is slightly more difficult to practice than it may seem. Beauty companies have a sneaky way of incorporating animals into their products in one form or another. This could be through a skincare item containing an animal product, testing on animals, or harming an animal’s home during production. Now, let’s break down each of these sections together.
Use of Animal Products
This is probably the most widely known reason for a product to be considered non-vegan. It is quite surprising just how many beauty products contain animal ingredients and by-products. The scary part is that many times we don’t even know. We could read the ingredient lists top to bottom and back up again and not even know. This is because many of these animal products go by different, very official sounding, names. For instance, Carmine, a red dye found in many lipsticks, is crushed up cochineal beetles. That’s a hard no for me. Another devil hiding in plain sight is gelatin. This product is made from boiling the ligaments and tendons of animals. Eww. It’s important to know all of these sneaky terms so that companies aren’t tricking us into buying products that contain ingredients we don’t agree with.
Here’s a link to our Aware List for a quick reference:
This is closely associated with the term “cruelty-free.” While a product that tests on animals but does not contain animal derived ingredients can still technically be labeled as vegan, it still adds to the mistreatment of animals. Now the important thing to note here is that the term cruelty-free is vastly misused and manipulated due to the lack of regulations surrounding it. In many cases, as long as the FINAL PRODUCT isn’t tested on animals, this label can still legally be used. This means that singular ingredients can be tested on animals without having to be noted on the product. Now, I will note that sometimes companies are not even aware that there is animal testing in their products because individual ingredients are many times brought in by third parties and keeping up with these facts as you go through the supply chain can become quite difficult. This is why it is so important to push brands to do proper vetting of all of the suppliers they are using and ensuring they all follow ethical practices. One way to easily spot if brands truly are cruelty-free is to look for certifications and verification, such as the Leaping Bunny and PETA logos.
Sustainability and Environmental Consciousness
Now this last section is not officially part of what most consider to be vegan beauty, but I personally think it should be! Animals rely on the environment to survive. It’s their home. The beauty industry produces over 75 billion units of plastic every year, and that plastic has to go somewhere…and it’s normally a landfill. Searching for brands that use packaging that’s recycled, reusable, refillable, or compostable is a great place to start. Another thing to look out for is where companies source their ingredients. Certain popular ingredients, such as palm oil, are huge contributors to deforestation. Again, this is where transparency becomes important. Do your research to see how companies package their products, where they are getting the ingredients, and what resources are they using to obtain those ingredients. Again, I know this doesn’t *technically* count as vegan beauty, but defending the homes of these amazing creatures is still very important!
So, next time you’re searching for a new skincare or beauty routine, just remember to keep our furry friends in mind! There are now many companies that have built kindness towards in their brand mission…and we love to see it. Let’s let 2022 be the year we shop with compassion!
By: Taylor Maness