With over one million vegans in the UK (and counting), you’d think that shopping for vegan beauty products would be a hassle-free experience, but actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
From trying to decipher the difference between cruelty-free and vegan, to decoding which ingredients are animal-based, there’s no end of personal research involved when it comes to buying skincare, makeup and haircare supplies. In an effort to make things easier, I’ve put together a basic guide to help you identify which beauty products are truly vegan.
Check the product is cruelty-free
For a product to be vegan, it must contain no animal-derived ingredients *and* be cruelty-free. Put simply, cruelty-free means that a product has not been tested on animals. Unfortunately, there are an ever-growing number of high-profile brands that label products as ‘vegan’ when they’re not cruelty-free. This means you have to be extra vigilant when researching the brands you buy from; if a brand tests on animals, then its products are not vegan.
Find out if the product is sold in China
In China, it’s the law that all beauty products must be tested on animals before they’re sold on the market. So, if the product you’re purchasing is sold in mainland China, then it’s categorically not cruelty-free, which means that it’s not vegan. The best way to find out if a brand sells its products in China is to check sites like Cruelty Free Kitty, check the brand’s FAQs, or message them directly.
Watch out for animal-derived ingredients
Unless a brand is 100% vegan, it’s often up to the customer to check the list of ingredients to decipher whether a product is vegan or not. While it’s always recommended that you do this thoroughly, there are a few more common substances to look out for.
For example, if a product contains beeswax, carmine (derived from insects) or shellac (derived from lac bugs) it’s definitely not vegan. Other ingredients to be mindful of include lanolin, glycerine and squalene. However, these particular substances do have plant-based alternatives, so you’ll need to do further research to find out which version the product contains.
Look for trusted certifications
Lastly, the easiest way to find out whether a product is cruelty-free and vegan, is to check for official certifications. The most trusted is The Vegan Society’s trademark; if you see this badge on any beauty product then you can rest assured that it contains no animal-derived ingredients and has not been tested on animals. But be wary, some brands use unofficial ‘vegan’ logos with no real substance behind them, so always double check to see if it’s one you recognise.