So, you’ve decided to go vegan finally. You have been mastering new cooking skills, changing your weekly grocery shopping, got rid of your leather wallet, saved the addresses of all the delicious vegan restaurants in your area. Now it’s time to take a closer look at your makeup and toiletries to make sure they’re 100% animal-free. Unfortunately, this is often a pretty daunting task, as (unbeknownst to many) animal products make for some of the most common ingredients in almost all beauty products.
Animal testing, although rapidly declining in popularity, is still one of the main factors swaying vegans to buy a certain beauty product rather than another. Still, even if your trusted deodorant or favorite lipstick is labeled as “cruelty-free,” meaning not tested on animals, it doesn’t mean it’ll be safe for a vegan to purchase and use.
So, what’s not vegan in popular beauty products? Here we list the top 10 most common animal ingredients that might be hiding in your everyday beauty products. Be prepared for some shocking discoveries!
Carmine, also known as cochineal or natural red 4, is a red dye commonly found in red lipsticks and nail polishes. This substance is derived from crushing a specific female bug, the cochineal scale, producing a vibrant and deep red pigment that is more likely than not going to be featured in your favorite lipstick. If you want to keep bugs out of your makeup, stay clear of carmine.
Lanolin is featured in both beauty products and food products, such as commercial breakfast cereal. This substance comes from sheep wool, more specifically from the built-up sweat of sheep’s skin and wool. Lanolin works as an emollient, with its moisturizing properties making it the number one choice for many hair and skin products.
Shellac is another common ingredient derived from bugs, specifically lac bugs. Just like with carmine, thousands of tiny insects have to be killed and crushed in order to produce this resinous substance, mostly used in nail gels and other nail products. Next time you see a shellac manicure advertised, you’ll know what it really costs!
Guanine is a popular product found in different types of makeup, from blushes to eyeshadow. This substance gives the eye-catching sparkle we sometimes look for in eye and face makeup. Where does it come from? It’s really something fishy: scraped dead fish scales.
Glycerin can be tricky, as it can be derived from both animal and plant products (vegetable glycerin). In its not vegan-friendly form, it’s derived from animal fats, featuring in most soaps, creamy moisturizers, hair care products, and makeup.
Honey is not the only animal product coming from the hard work of bees. Beeswax is what keeps liquid emulsions together, and it is incredibly common in all types of cosmetics, but especially lip balms and mascaras. Your go-to scented candle is likely to have beeswax in it too – so soya wax is the way to go.
Keratin is all the rage in hair care products, from conditioners to even hair straighteners. Its strengthening properties make it the number one choice for strong nails and hair. You’ll be surprised to know its origin: the actual hairs and horns of animals.
The buzzword of the anti-aging beauty industry has quite a horrific background. Collagen is extracted from the bones, tissue, and ligaments of cows, not unlike the very not veggie-friendly gelatin. In our opinion, no time-turning properties are worth that much animal suffering!
9. Oleic acid
Also known as tallow in the food industry, this type of animal fat is used as an emollient in makeup as well as an emulsifying agent is most soaps. Just like glycerin, it can also be derived from vegetable oils, making the animal-derived version harder to spot unless specified by the brand.
Finally, we have squalene, a substance produced from shark liver oil. Although it may sound like an odd or even rare ingredient, you might be surprised to find out it’s very common in all types of moisturizers and deodorants. Did you know that millions of sharks are slaughtered every year for this chemical? If you want to do your part in saving the ocean, you might want to give this one a pass.