It’s 2018, and if you hear that something is paleo, vegan, or even gluten-free, you can no longer assume it’s on the menu. As the beauty world gets more thoughtful and conscientious, I’ve been seeing everything from animal by-product-free soaps to Paleo skincare lines. So if you’re committed to the vegan life: 1) go you! 2) you have a lot of great options for vegan beauty products. But when faced with a long ingredient list, how do we really know when a product is vegan? I checked in with Julie Kim, founder of vegan skincare brand Saison Beauty for tips on how to identify vegan-friendly beauty products—plus, five vegan beauty lines everyone can get behind.
Cruelty-free does not equal vegan
While cruelty-free products usually tend to be concerned about the treatment of animals during the testing process, vegan products take the process a step further and pass on animal by-products altogether in the production process. “When you see the PETA or Leaping Bunny logo on a product, it means that this product is usually cruelty-free and was not tested on any animals,” explains Julie. “ Many people are aware and are concerned about the treatment of animals during product testing and opt for cruelty-free products. But if your beauty products contain animal-based ingredients, you should know that the process to procure those ingredients can be just as excruciating and cruel to the animal as the product testing process.”
Always read the ingredient list
Pay close attention to the ingredient list of your makeup and skincare products. “Some common skincare ingredients to avoid include honey, keratin, royal jelly, milk, lecithin, gelatin, bee pollen, beeswax, collagen, carmine, lanolin, silk, snail mucin, and squalene,” she says. “Many fragrances also rely on animal ingredients like ambergris, castoreum, musk and civet, which should be avoided.” A surprising animal-derived ingredient to watch out for: retinol! For a more complete vegan-approved list, check out this one from PETA.
When in doubt, check with the company
Even if you read the ingredient list thoroughly, it’s difficult to know whether certain ingredients are derived from animals or plants. “Thanks to scientific advancements, many traditional animal ingredients such as collagen, lactic acid, and glycerin are now often plant-derived,” says Julie. “Look for the PETA-approved vegan logo on product labels, or ask the company directly which products are vegan-friendly.” Squalene and squalane, which are traditionally obtained from shark liver oil, is now often derived from olive oil, making it safe for vegans as well.
Don’t forget about your beauty tools.
You don’t have to compromise your vegan lifestyle for soft, high-quality makeup brushes. “Makeup brushes have come a long way, with many great synthetic options available. Avoid brushes made with goat, squirrel, or sable horse hair.” A favorite of beauty bloggers, M.O.T.D.’s super-soft (and wallet-friendly!) vegan makeup brushes are a great alternative.