the ultimate guide to finding vegan friendly cosmetics

the ultimate guide to finding vegan friendly cosmetics

There are animal products in cosmetics. It’s a fact. Some are animal derived and others are animal by products. Some use ingredients animals were born to make (think milk, honey and beeswax), others use ingredients made from animals.


It’s easy to tell animal made foods at the supermarket. It’s a lot harder to pick out animal made cosmetics.


Are you vegetarian or vegan? Would you be shocked to learn many moisturisers, mascaras, eye shadows and blushers are made from animal products? Would you like to know exactly how to choose vegetarian and vegan friendly skincare, makeup and cosmetics?


If the answer is yes. You’re in exactly the right place. Through the course of this ultimate guide we’re going to be delving into the most common animal made cosmetic ingredients, the strange names they hide behind and their vegan, vegetarian friendly alternatives.


How to choose vegan friendly cosmetics

The secret to all great cosmetic decisions is simple. Get familiar with the ingredients list. Imagine devouring 2 slices of chocolate from completely different chocolate companies. How would they taste? Different, the same, similar? Would one taste richer, darker and velvetier than the other? Would you have a favourite? Would you be able to make a speedy decision?


Your food tastes as good as it’s broken down ingredients. This makes it easy to tell a bargain basement plain chocolate from an Ecuador sourced, 70% raw cocoa alternative. And even if you’re instantly won over by any kind of chocolate taste. You have an understandable ingredients list to fall back on. It’s how you tell fake health foods from the real deal. And ultimately, it’s how you pick out vegan friendly cosmetics from an animal derived crowd.


But hold up. There’s one small challenge in your way. Flip to the back of any cosmetics label and most will read like gibberish. Steric acid who? Glycerin what? Butyrospermum Parkii… huh? Instead of learning the cosmetics dictionary, pin this list of commonly found animal products in cosmetics. Use it to scan your next purchases of vegetarian and vegan friendly makeup and skincare. Simple.


Animal derived ingredients commonly found in cosmetics

A quick word of warning. Some of the animal derived cosmetic ingredients in this list may completely horrify you. While others are a lifestyle choice, some really are made from ground up dead animals. The great news is by using vegan friendly makeup and skincare, you reduce demand for these ingredients and help put pressure on beauty companies to pay a little extra for alternatives which are kinder.


Ready to get going? Let’s make a start my friend…


1) Cochineal Dye/Carmine

What a strange sounding name ‘eh. Cochineal dye or carmine is a bright red powder. Imagine talcum powder, but colour it red. This is carmine powder. If you’re looking for a bright red lipstick, a powdered blush or a tinged red eye-shadow, there may be carmine hiding on the ingredients list.


Carmine is made from ground-up bugs. Usually cochineal insects which feed on bright red cactus berries. And even more specifically just the female kind. 70, 000 female insects get crushed in the making of 1 pound of carmine.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Cochineal, Cochineal Extract, Carmine, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, E120. …


Instead of bug made red powders, vegan makeup uses natural iron oxides. Take a look at this Ere Perez cherry red natural lip tint. It’s got all of the red, with none of the crushed bugs. A vegan and vegetarian win, win


2) Crystalline Guanine

Makeup that shimmers and shines like the sun caught glimmer of a fish swimming through water… may contain exactly that. Fish. Or more specifically fish scales. Guanine is a ground up powder of shimmery fish scales. It’s not animal meat, but it is an animal product. Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Guanine, CI 75170.


3) Shellac

Does it remind you of a certain gel finish nail polish? If you’re thinking about shiny salon perfect nails, you’re thinking along the right lines my friend. Shellac makes things shine and for this reason it’s used in nail varnish, hair sprays and shampoos. It also forms a nice film, which is why there’s a few other sneaky uses, like in sunscreen formulas.


What you might not know is shellac takes its name from the lac beetle. And you guessed it, this means shellac as a cosmetic ingredient is made from female (yes again!) lac bug resin.


The female lac bug spends its life living off tree sap and excreting out shellac resin. Although shellac isn’t made from ground up bugs, when it’s harvested the bugs habitat is raided, which is why it’s thought up to 300, 000 bugs are killed for every 1kg of shellac made.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Shellac cera, shellac wax, shellac or try the new and very vegan friendly Ere Perez nail polish range.


4) Silk powder

Silk is not just used to make clothes, it’s also used to make face powder. Strange but true. Silk fibre can be ground up into powder to make a cream, white colour ideal for pale skin tones.


Now comes the not so nice bit. Silk is made by boiling silk worms inside of their cocoons.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Serica Powder, silk powder.


5) Hyaluronic acid

Head to any cosmetic counter with dehydrated skin and they’ll likely recommend you a serum or cosmetic with hyaluronic acid. An ingredient able to hold over 1000 times its own weight in water.


Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in your skin… and in many feather coated animals Hyaluronic acid can be made synthetically or extracted from the red comb of a male chicken.


When you read an ingredients label, unless the product has vegan certification, there’s really no way to tell.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Hyaluronic acid, Sodium hyaluronate.


…And don’t worry, if you have dehydrated skin in need of moisture there are many other vegan friendly alternatives, like oat milk for example. Read more here.


6) Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is found mostly in anti-ageing skincare products. It’s full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It can help condition, soothe, nourish, regenerate and protect skin. It tastes like condensed milk, but luckily your skin doesn’t know.


Royal jelly is made by bees. What you might not know is royal jelly is made by worker bees to feed and grow bee larva. Take it away and baby bees cannot be born.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Royal jelly, royal jelly extract.


7) Lanolin

Lanolin is a greasy yellow soft wax used to condition and sooth dry, chapped, flaky skin. It’s often used in lip balms, lip sticks and body butters forming a protective barrier which allows your skin to repair itself.


Lanolin is made from wool grease, the ingredient sheep make to waterproof their ‘hair’. Lanolin may be vegetarian friendly but whether it’s vegan friendly is for you to decide.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Lanolin, PEG-75 lanolin, lanolin alcohol, lanolin acid, Hydroxylated lanolin, acetylated lanolin. Essentially any ingredient housing the name ‘lanolin’.


8) Collagen

As your skin ages, your collagen levels decline… and reboosting them with great skincare and an even better diet, can you guessed it, help reverse these changes. However supplying collagen to your skin, does not as you would think, boost collagen levels. Instead collagen building blocks like vitamin C are what’s needed.


Despite collagen having a molecular size too large to be absorbed deeply by skin, you’ll still find it in many anti-ageing cosmetics. It does help your skin hydrate, but the effect is not as fancy (or anti-ageing) as the name suggests.


Collagen is frequently made from calf skin, chicken feet and animal horns.


Want to avoid it? Scan makeup ingredients lists for these names; Collagen, soluble collagen, hydrolysed collagen


The cheats way to finding vegan friendly cosmetics

The more often you look at your make-up and skincare ingredients lists, the quicker and easier it is to find vegan skincare, vegan makeup, vegan mascara, vegan blusher and vegan eye shadow. You can forever more become a vegan cosmetics pro.


However, it does take time. If you want vegan friendly cosmetics and you want them now, there are 3 quick and easy solutions;


1) Vegan stamps of approval

Look for vegan accreditations like the PETA vegan stamp or The Vegan Society stamp, see these logos on the label of your makeup and cosmetics and you know you’re onto a vegan friendly winner.


2) Find vegan friendly cosmetic sections online

Many online retailers are catching onto the fact you want to know exactly what’s in your cosmetics. You can find pre-screened sections for natural, organic and even vegan.


3) Look for vegan packs

You’ll also find vegan friendly packs, which are pre-screened as vegan friendly. It’s like a badge of honour. If you’re searching for vegan friendly makeup, Ere Perez have 3 vegan packs to choose from.


How have you found switching to vegan friendly makeup? Which side of the fence do you sit on? Have you made the swap? Which ingredients are complete no-go’s for you? Let’s chat in the comments below…


Article by Cheryl Woodman.


To learn more about Ere Perez, click here.


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