Vegan skincare – it sounds like a simple concept, but if you’ve ever tried to actually change up your beauty products and switch to vegan ones, I’m sure you’ve come across a few confusing hurdles. There are a lot of different terms thrown around – vegetarian, vegan, cruelty-free, natural, organic – which all sound good, but they have important differences in meaning. There’s also a range of different certifications and confusing ingredient names which make the whole area a bit messy. So we’ve put together this guide to give you an introduction to vegan skincare and makeup and help clear things up a little!
Usually, when a product claims to be cruelty-free, it’s saying that it hasn’t been tested on animals. However, different companies use this in different ways. Sometimes they might mean that only the final product hasn’t been tested on animals, but that the individual ingredients may have been. One way to make sure that animal testing has been avoided at every stage of the product’s life is to look for the Leaping Bunny ceritification. A product with this ceritfication needs to meet certain criteria, including that no animal tested has been condusted at any stage. This also has to be the case globally, which means they can’t test any products on animals across their entire company and therefore can’t seel to certain countries. So China, for example, has a law which requires all beauty products to be tested on animals before they can be sold there. So any company which sells in China cannot get a Leaping Bunny certification. However, the Leaping Bunny certification only covers animal testing, and doesn’t have any critera about the contents of products, so a product containing animal products can be Leaping Bunny Certified.
A truly vegan product contains no aniaml products or by-products, and isn’t tested on animals. One way to look out for these products is to look for The Vegan Society certification. The Vegan Society’s criteria includes all of these things so you can be sure that anything with this label is vegan. However, just because one product has the label doesn’t mean the company as a whole is vegan. The Vegan Society say they certify individual products partly as a way to encourage non-vegan companies to provide vegal options in their product line. However, if you only want to support companies that only manufacture vegan products, you’ll need to do a little more digging into the company. It also doesn’t mean that the products are necessarily natural, as there are many synthetic ingredients that do not involve animals. It’s not necessarily related to veganism, but if naturally-derived skincare is important to you, make sure you take a look at the ingredients list.
Greenwashing of Beauty Products
It is very easy and surprisingly legal for a company to pretend to be natural and organic. A non-organic company is allowed to use the term ‘organics’ or ‘naturals’ in its name with nothing to back this up – eluxe magazine has some great examples here. A company can do so much in their branding to make it appear as it they use natural plant-based ingredients, and it doesn’t help that animal products and by-products are named as things which give no indication of what they actually are. Lanolin is taken from sheep’s fleeces, keratin is taken from things like hair and hooves (though there are natural alternatives like phytokeratin), and collagen is taken from animal tissue. So if a product is branded as being plant-based or natural, it can be hard to know if that’s actually true. Plus, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s vegan! Unfortunately, there is little regulation within the beauty industry on branding practices, so try to look out for certifications or actual outright claims of veganism.
What if a company isn’t certified?
Unfortunately, although ceritfication is a great way to see which products meet certain criteria, they pose a barrier to smaller companies – it costs money to get a Leaping Bunny or Vegan Society certification. The amount varies, but if you’re a small company with small margins, you just might not be able to afford to get certified. So what can we do to support these small companies with good practices? Well, if the company says outright that they are vegan, there is a good chance that’s the truth, since they could get into a lot of legan trouble for making a false claim like this. If a company wants to appear vegan when it isn’t, more likely it’ll work on the visuals and branding and avoid making the claim outright. However, you do still need to research what they mean by this. If they claim to be cruelty-free, are they referring to the final product or the entire process? What it comes down to is how trustworthy the brand is and I find that, generally, if they’re transparent about their practices, I’ll trust them on their claims even if they’re not ceritified. Take Organic Surge, for example. They pride themselves on creating natural-based products that are suitable for vegans. They have a section on their website where they outline this, and say that all of their products are vegan except for one, because they haven’t found an adequate replacement. I really appreciate when a company is upfront about their policies and you can easily find all of their policies.
We’d love to hear if you have any tips for finding vegan skincare products, and share your favourite brands, we’d love to hear what you use! Leave us a comment or tweet us @revival_collect