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Veganuary and the Beauty World

What's the easiest element of veganism?

Every year since it began in 2014, Veganuary’s 31-day pledge encourages people from all around the world to try veganism for January and beyond.

Personally I think that by far the easiest elements of veganism – and therefore a great place to start if you are interested – are the cosmetic products that you use (and I’m not just saying that because I own a vegan beauty business!). Seriously – when have you ever heard of someone switching to vegan beauty products and then missing or craving their old non-vegan ones? I’ve certainly never heard of that.

For a beauty product to be vegan it must not contain any animal or animal-derived ingredients. Some common non-vegan ingredients that are often found in all sorts of beauty products are:

  • Carmine (crushed bugs) found in many products, such as lipstick and blusher, to give a red colour. It is said that around 70,000 cochineal insects are crushed to create just one pound of carmine. (Alternatives include beet juice and alkanet root).
  • Animal hair/fur used for the bristles of makeup brushes and for false eyelashes. According to Peta, every year millions of animals are trapped, drowned and beaten to death in the wild, or strangled, electrocuted or skinned alive on fur farms, and makeup brushes are part of this problem! (Alternatives are synthetic fibers).
  • Guanine (obtained from fish scales) found in many products such as lipstick, shampoo and nail polish. (Alternatives include leguminous plants, synthetic peak or aluminum and bronze particles).
  • Squalene (extracted from shark livers) is often found in products such as lip balm, sunscreen, deodorant and moisturiser. According to a 2012 study by Bloom (a non-profit focused on marine conservation), up to 90% of all shark squalene used is for the beauty and cosmetics industries, which corresponds to 2.7 million deep sea sharks caught every year! (Alternatives include derivatives from olives, wheat germ and other plants).

Source: PETA (https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/)

These are just a handful of the many animal-derived ingredients that are commonly found in cosmetic products. Not only are these often sourced in cruel ways, I also personally think it’s a bit disgusting to think about smearing animals’ bodies on our skin in the name of beauty.

How can we avoid these animal-derived ingredients in our cosmetic products?

Glass cosmetic bottle surrounded by flowers

To avoid these ingredients, you want to look for vegan beauty products. Many are now officially certified vegan, but they don’t have to be. In recent years I've noticed that beauty brands are getting better and better at labelling their products vegan, so it's becoming increasingly easy to be able to spot them.

If you are shopping on the High Street, my go-to shops are The Body Shop and Lush, as not only do they have a great selection of vegan products, but they’re also very well known for being cruelty-free (which means they don’t test their products on animals). However, please be mindful that not all of their products are vegan, so it’s still worth checking their clear labelling or asking members of staff.

If you are shopping online, my company Lovethical only sells vegan products from cruelty-free brands; I’ve curated a selection of some of my favourite cosmetic brands and have put them together in one place so that you can easily shop for your vegan goodies. As a bonus, I’ve made it easy for you to filter by a list of other ethical credentials, such as plastic-free packaging, palm oil-free, 100% recyclable packaging or brands that donate to charity.

So, if you're giving Veganuary a go this year then I wish you the very best of luck with it, and I hope that you can see the value in choosing vegan cosmetics whether or not you continue with veganism after January. You can shop my company's great selection of vegan products by clicking here.

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