Those who follow a vegan diet, by definition, avoid all meat and animal byproducts including milk or cheese. Not surprisingly, many people who keep a vegan diet also opt for strictly vegan skin care products. True, you don’t ingest your skincare, but from a holistic perspective, what you put on your body is probably as important as what you put in your body, so if you’ve chosen a vegan lifestyle and diet, it stands to reason you would seek out vegan products when choosing your skincare.
Just like vegan food products, vegan skincare does not contain any animal or animal byproducts. They are formulated primarily from plants, minerals and some safe synthetic ingredients.
The tricky part here is that there is no individual organization or agency that grants certification on vegan skincare products, so the term can be loosely applied in marketing and there’s no one to blow the whistle on products that may be falsely promoted as vegan. However, there are a handful of independent organizations that do put a ‘vegan’ stamp or certification on beauty products that have been vetted.
The Vegan Society is internationally recognized for granting “official” vegan status to products of all types. Vegan Action is also known world-wide and companies can their products certified through this organization and use their well-known vegan stamp on their products and marketing materials. PETA also offers two stamps of ‘approval’ on products—vegan and cruelty-free.
Skincare labels are notorious for reading like a novel with a long listing ingredients that include many you’ve never heard of and possibly cannot even pronounce. For those who exclusively purchase vegan skincare, there may be ingredients that can be mistaken and or assumed to be acceptable for vegans, but they are not. These are just a few of the more common skincare ingredients that are actually derived from animals:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Stearic acid
Next up on the “need to know” list is the potential for confusion between vegan and cruelty free. Free of animal byproducts does not automatically mean “cruelty free” as well. Even in a case where the skincare product does not actually contain any animal products or byproducts, it may have been tested on animals at some point in the production or quality assurance process. “Cruelty free” in this respect quite simply means the products or ingredients were never tested on animals at any stage of manufacturing. Due diligence is certainly required in this arena, as a product could be vegan but not cruelty free, or cruelty free but still contain animal products.
Now let’s debunk the myth and misconception that vegan skincare is better for you and will not cause irritation or reactions. It’s absolutely true that vegan skincare typically contains fewer ingredients which can make it easier to understand exactly what you’re putting on your skin. Vegan skincare is also rich in vitamins, and may be loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but listen up! Just because a skincare is vegan does NOT mean there is no possibility of an allergic reaction. Vegan skincare contains many ingredients that are plants or plant-derived, and for those with sensitive skin or contact allergies, this can be problematic. For example, coconut oil is a common ingredient, and coconut is an irritant for many with allergies and sensitivities. These products also include many of the essential oils that are popular lately, and since people may not have prior encounter with these oils or awareness if they could cause a problem, it’s important to do your homework, especially if you have known allergies or particularly sensitive skin.
Lastly, there’s the matter of shelf-life. Vegan products can certainly have a reasonable shelf life, and in fact can often last as long as nonvegan counterparts, particularly if they have preservatives that are not derived from animals. Here’s an important caveat—for those with sensitivities and allergies, it is imperative to read the labels and in some cases it may be necessary to avoid those products with preservatives that can be known to irritate. Vegan skincare that is preservative free may have a shorter shelf life, and will do better when kept in cooler temperatures to help extend their shelf life.
Education and a little research is definitely in order to know what you are getting when you purchase vegan skincare. Read your labels thoroughly as they are a great source of information as to what the product does and does not contain and what you can expect in terms of possible irritants and shelf-stability. Generic and off-brand skincare may be fine and can save you a few bucks here and there, but when it comes to your skin, it can be worth spending a little more on those trusted brands that are reputable, with solid reviews from like-minded consumers. Hustle Butter products are always vegan and cruelty free with plenty of consumer and professional testimonials to speak to the reliability and quality of their products.
About the author: Yaffa Baslaw (@yadeinu) is a Freelance Writer with over a decade of experience copywriting and blogging compelling content. She has written for more than 20 companies in the fields of healthcare, skincare, and retail.