makeup palette

Photo by Lucy Hannah Photography

I have been a professional makeup artist for weddings and other occasions for 17 years this year, but I have also been a vegetarian for 25 years. Veganism is growing as a movement, and even if people aren’t going completely vegan, many are choosing to avoid animal derived products either for ethical or environmental reasons. I made the decision last year to go 100% cruelty-free in my hair and makeup kit, so I have stopped using products that are known to test on animals such as NARS, Estee Lauder, MAC, Chanel, Lancome, etc. I am incredibly passionate about this issue. I get many bookings for vegan and cruelty-free wedding makeup and hair in Liverpool, so I am actively replacing non-vegan products in my kit with completely vegan and cruelty free makeup and hair products.

What makes a product Vegan?

There are many ingredients in cosmetics, makeup, skin care, and hair products that are derived from animal sources. A vegan product does not contain these ingredients, or contains synthetic or plant-derived versions of these components. I have put together a list of 20 commonly used animal-based ingredients to help you make the choice that is best for you and your lifestyle:

  • Honey, Beeswax, Royal Jelly and Propolis – all produced by bees and/or extracted from their hives
  • Carmine, Cochineal, Shellac – colourants and shine creators derived from beetles or other insects
  • Collagen, Gelatin(e) – made from the connective tissue of cows or fish
  • Lanolin – extracted from sheep’s wool
  • Allantoin – extracted from uric acid from animals
  • Lactic Acid (AHA) – derived from milk
  • Ambergris – used in perfume and fragrance, this expensive ingredient is actual whale vomit!
  • Castoreum – even worse that whale vomit, this secretion from the anal gland of a beaver is used in perfumes and vanilla flavourings
  • Snails – popular in Korean skincare, it is literally snail slime
  • Retinol (retinoic acid) – not all retinol is non-vegan, you need to check with the manufacturer. Retinoic acid is derived from eggs and milk
  • Keratin – popular in hair care products, this is made from ground up animal hair, hooves, and feathers
  • Guanine – ground up fish scales used in mascaras and lipsticks to add shimmer
  • Tallow – rendered animal fat made by boiling animal carcasses
  • Estrogen (Estradiol) – used in many anti-aging creams, it comes from the urine of pregnant horses
  • Some of these sound pretty gross! And this makes me happy that there are so many vegan options available in the modern cosmetic world.

Looking for a vegan friendly makeup artist? Get in touch!

Do cruelty-free and vegan mean the same thing?

In short, no. A product can be cruelty-free, meaning that it and the ingredients used to make it have not been tested on animals. However, it may contain any of the non-vegan ingredients listed above, or others. A product can also say that it is vegan, but it may be tested on animals or owned by a parent company that tests on animals. My advice is to do your research, look at the ingredients, and check the labeling for the leaping bunny symbol. Google is your friend, and I would absolutely recommend checking online if you are unsure about an ingredient or a cosmetic brand’s animal-testing policies. If you also don’t wish to support parent companies who allow their other brands to be tested on animals, you should look at who owns the brand you are shopping. I did a quick poll on my Instagram and discovered that over 80% of my followers did not want to buy from brands owned by a parent company that conducts animal testing. You may be surprised to know that there are only a few massive corporations that own the majority of beauty brands.

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I really hope this post has been informative and given you some knowledge on the subject of vegan makeup and hair products. It is a subject I am regularly asked about. A lot of people don’t realise that their favourite ‘cruelty-free’ brands are owned by a massive multi-national that conducts animal testing on their other products and brands.

The good news is that people are becoming more aware, and making different choices, which will ultimately put pressure on big business to make changes. It is mainly Chinese regulations that require animal testing for any cosmetic products sold in their country. China is making changes, such as they no longer require testing on existing formulas, only on new formulations or ingredients. It isn’t perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.

What are your thoughts about cruelty-free and vegan makeup or other beauty and hair products? I would really love to know your thoughts on the issue. Please let me know in the comments below, or on my Instagram @glamoramamakeup or Facebook.