Vegan Skincare: What is it and Why it Matters

When most people think of veganism, they probably think about a diet that incorporates no animal products. While this is a large component of being a vegan, it’s not the only factor that true vegans need to consider.

Veganism is a lifestyle that extends past just eating certain foods. Being a vegan means that you don’t use animal products in any facet of your life, including cosmetics and skincare.

If you’re looking to become a vegan yourself, or just want to be more cognizant about what you’re putting on your skin, here’s a quick guide to vegan skincare.

What is Vegan Skincare?

Veganism is the practice of using animal products in any facet of life. So, vegan skincare is specifically using skincare cosmetics that do not contain animal products, nor products that have been tested on animals or are a result of taking something from an animal even if the animal isn’t necessarily killed to get it.

This means that ingredients like beeswax, honey, lanolin, or keratin are generally avoided. Basically, any product that comes from an animal in any fashion isn’t used in vegan skincare products.

Vegan skincare items are often plant-based or use synthetic materials. Many will use natural alternatives to many popular animal products that are typically used in cosmetic manufacturing. For example, vegan brands might opt for soya or plant waxes instead of beeswax.

Sometimes, you may see an ingredient being referred to as “animal derived.” Lanolin, for example, is often used in moisturizers. It is sourced from washing the wool of a sheep. Though it doesn’t actually harm the sheep, and shearing is a necessary way to keep them healthy, it still would not be considered a vegan product.

Vegan vs. Cruelty Free

Vegan products are also never tested on animals, meaning that they are considered cruelty-free. This means that no animal is harmed during the production process of a vegan lotion, cleanser, or facial mask.

Vegan products will always be-cruelty free, but a cruelty-free product doesn’t have to be vegan. If something is cruelty-free it just means that a product nor its ingredients have been tested on animals by a supplier. With that said, the product itself may still contain ingredients that come from living organisms.

Benefits of Veganism

It’s estimated that anywhere between 1-2% of Americans currently practice a completely animal-free diet. While this might seem like a small number, a growing number of plant-based and sustainable products are making veganism much more attainable. Because of that, it’s safe to assume that this number will only grow in the future.

And there’s good reason why. Being a vegan has a number of benefits, both to yourself and to the planet.

Health Benefits

Those who practice a vegan diet correctly are likely to live a healthier lifestyle than those who do not. Vegan diets have shown to be able to help with:

  • Promoting weight loss
  • Reducing risk of heart disease
  • Lowering chances of contracting certain types of cancer
  • Managing diabetes

As far as skincare, using plant-based cosmetics can be beneficial when compared to animal products, as plants may naturally be able to work in unison with your skin. Since plants are always sourced naturally, it means that they can help promote really healthy complexion.

Also, vegan ingredients like aloe, mint, or lavender can have a ton of positive effects on your holistic wellbeing when used in certain skincare items. They’re also often rich in vitamins, so you can feel confident that vegan cosmetics are providing you with essential nutrients for a glowing appearance.

Environmental Benefits

Aside from personal benefits, veganism has some of the most profound positive influences over the environment. 

For one, going vegan can help conserve water. The amount of water needed for livestock is far beyond the amount necessary to grow plants and other natural products. In fact, the amount of water needed to produce one pound of beef is 1,799 gallons. By comparison, the water footprint of soybeans is only about 216 gallons.

Livestock needed for food or cosmetics play a large role in soil degradation and air pollution as well. When livestock occupy a small space on a farm, they corrode and weaken the soil in the surrounding area. On top of that, deforestation is also necessary to make room for grazing land, which dries out the soil and makes the air more dense. This is especially disturbing considering  cows are one of the biggest sources of methane, a harmful air pollutant.

Vegan products and diets also consume a lot less energy when compared to plant based products. Raising living organisms takes a lot of time and resources, whereas sourcing from natural plants doesn’t take much energy at all.

Potential Drawbacks of Vegan Skincare

Just because your lotion or facial cleanser is vegan doesn’t mean you can’t still have an allergic reaction to the ingredients. One of the only drawbacks associated with vegan cosmetics is that they can still be allergenic, so extra care must be taken when trying any product for the first time.

With that said, many non-vegan products tend to be more irritating than vegan products, especially if they are not sourced sustainably or naturally.

In order to minimize irritation as much as possible, check for labels that products are made without things like synthetic fragrances, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), mineral oils, or sulfates. Products that do not contain these ingredients are not likely to irritate.

Importance of Vegan Skincare

In addition to all of the benefits listed above, vegan skincare items are important to provide wider accessibility for all types of people to enjoy cosmetics and beauty products. For one, it allows fully vegan people to utilize make ups, lotions, and previously unattainable products. But on top of that, it gives greater options for people of different skin types.

Natural, vegan ingredients tend to be less harsh and irritating than chemical or animal-sourced ones. This means that people with sensitive skin types or those prone to allergic reactions might find greater success in these items.

The innovation of vegan skincare has opened the door for future advancements in beauty and cosmetic brands. It has allowed for a greater understanding and appreciation of sustainable beauty in all facets of the industry.

How To Identify Vegan Skincare Products

More often than not, products will contain a seal that denotes the item is vegan and/ or cruelty free. However, you can always take a look at the ingredient list and see if you recognize any animal products yourself.

There is no official certifying agency, but many companies are proud to display a vegan seal on their items if they are able to apply.

Sustainable Skincare

Making sure that your beauty products are ethically produced from natural ingredients is essential, both for your own health and for the environment.

Sustainable skincare ingredients do not harm the animals that they are derived from and can give you a number of specific benefits. This is because microorganisms have uniquely adapted to their environments, allowing humans to benefit from their special properties.

Also, many mammalian products and harsh chemical ingredients might work against your body. For example, salicylic acid might be able to remove oil from your skin, but it will not work with your body to provide holistic effects. Natural and sustainable ingredients will often work in unison with your skin to ensure that there are less chances for side effects and even more benefits.

In Conclusion

Vegan skincare means using cosmetic products that do not contain ingredients derived from animals. It also means that those same ingredients have never been tested on an animal. Things like beeswax are substituted for ingredients that are usually plant based or synthetic instead.

Vegan diets have profound benefits for the body, including promoting weight loss and managing diabetes. However, these benefits can be extended when used externally. Vegan cosmetics also help the environment tremendously by cutting down on water usage, consuming less energy, and keeping soil healthy, especially when compared to animal products.

While vegan cosmetics can still potentially irritate the skin, these types of items have opened the door for more and more people to be able to access skincare that works for them. The trend of sustainable and natural cosmetics is highly important for a healthy body and happy planet.



How Many Vegans Are There Really in the US? - Sentient Media

Water Footprint of Livestock - Union College 

Methane facts and information - National Geographic