What Are Vegan Cosmetics? Your Complete Guide to Making the Switch

More and more of us are saying “Yes!” to veganism. 

And it’s not just what we eat. People are deciding that they want to live in a way that harms animals as little as possible and this shift is touching every aspect of life, including what we put on our hair, faces, and bodies.

The multi-billion dollar beauty industry has already decided to take notice as consumers demand cosmetics that are kinder to animals and the environment. Ready to make the switch to vegan products but not sure where to start? This guide will help you start transitioning to vegan cosmetics as smoothly as possible.

divided background (pink on left, blue-green on right) with images of lipstick tube, blush compact. Words "Cruelty Free" on torn piece of lined paper in the center

Understanding Vegan Beauty Products

“What are vegan cosmetics?”, you might ask. Great question!

Vegan cosmetics are completely free from animal-derived ingredients, AND these products are NOT tested on animals at any stage of their development. 

I was surprised to learn how many common ingredients in my medicine chest come from animals. Beeswax is often found in lip balms. Carmine, a red pigment derived from crushed cochineal insects, is used in many lipsticks and blushes. Lanolin comes from sheep’s wool and is often found in lotions and creams while keratin, sourced from the hooves, feathers, and hair of various non-human animals, frequently pops up in hair products.

Then there is the cruelty-free label. It sounds pretty similar to vegan, right? But while cruelty-free products haven’t been tested on animals (which is fantastic!), they could still contain animal-derived ingredients. It’s always a good idea to check the ingredient list for both vegan and cruelty-free certifications before you make your purchase. 

Evaluating Your Current Beauty Products

Let’s start where you keep your household skin, hair, and beauty products. As we get started, I give you permission to throw away any old, unwanted, or expired tubes, jars, and potions. Just like cleaning out your closet before a shopping spree, evaluating what you already own will help you understand your beauty preferences and habits. Plus, you’ll get a clear idea of which of your go-to products are already vegan and which ones aren’t.

You could start by grabbing each product and giving its label a good read. Look for those vegan and cruelty-free certifications I mentioned earlier. Don’t forget to check out the ingredients list for any of those sneaky animal-derived ingredients like carmine, beeswax, collagen, or lanolin.

Feeling pressed for time? Then begin with just the things you use every day.  Maybe toothpaste, body lotion, and shampoo? Or start with just one item that you know is almost finished—maybe an antiperspirant, mascara, or lip balm?

If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably discover that a lot of your favorite products aren’t vegan or cruelty-free. Don’t panic!  That’s really good information. This process isn’t about making you feel guilty or overwhelmed; rather, it’s about increasing your awareness and deciding what decision you want to make next.

variety of cosmetics including lipstick, blush, and mascara, plus makeup brushes and hair scrunchie

Baby Steps…One Product At A Time! 

One tip to simplify your search: look out for certain logos and trademarks that guarantee that the product is vegan. The Vegan Society Trademark and the Leaping Bunny logo are two reliable indicators. These symbols mean that the product you’re holding is free from animal-derived ingredients and hasn’t been tested on animals. Websites like Ethical Elephant can be very helpful as well. 

woman holding a rabbit, face-to-face

The DIY Route

Are you someone who loves a little bit of DIY magic? If so, you might find your vegan cosmetics journey taking an exciting detour. How about crafting your own cosmetics right in your kitchen? Sounds like an adventure, right?

Going the DIY route offers a couple of pretty cool benefits. For one, you’ll have full control over what goes into your products. That means no mystery ingredients and no hidden, animal-derived elements. When you’re stirring the pot you know EXACTLY what’s in there! Considering that our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, having that kind of knowledge and control can be very reassuring.

Plus, you’ll discover countless DIY recipes online that use simple, readily available vegan-friendly ingredients. Whether it’s a nourishing avocado face mask, a refreshing cucumber toner, or a sweet-smelling vanilla body scrub, the possibilities are practically endless.

Stepping Up As A Vegan Advocate

Guess what? You—yes, you—wield a tremendous amount of power. As conscious consumers, our purchasing decisions, our clicks, our likes, and our queries all have a significant impact on the beauty industry. Each product we buy sends a message about the values we support and the changes we’d like to see.

How about using this consumer power to champion the cause of vegan, cruelty-free beauty? Choosing to spend your hard-earned money on brands that respect all beings and value transparency means you’re literally underwriting a kinder, more ethical world. Each vegan selection you make is a vote for a beauty industry that values compassion over exploitation.

Advocating for change doesn’t stop at our own purchasing decisions, however. It’s also about sparking conversations and influencing others—influencing even the brands themselves! Email your favorite non-vegan brands (or message them on social media) and let them know what you want. Brands do listen to their customers, and your request could be the one that nudges them toward a more vegan-friendly path.

Remember, advocacy isn’t about shouting the loudest; it’s about speaking up, again and again, with conviction and consistency. Every conversation you start, every question you ask, and every vegan product you buy brings us one step closer to a cosmetics industry that’s free from animal exploitation. Don’t be shy about wielding your power—you make a difference with every purchase!

divided background (green on left half, yellow on right half). image of reusable shopping bag in center with 3 green leaves coming down from the handle

Spreading the Vegan Love

Once you start exploring vegan cosmetics, you’re bound to come across products that you can’t wait to tell others about.

Whether it’s a luscious vegan lip balm or a cruelty-free mascara, don’t keep these discoveries to yourself. Share them with your friends and family. Who knows? Your excitement might inspire them to embark on their own vegan cosmetics journey. Even someone who isn’t currently considering a change in the way they eat might be delighted to know that their shampoo and sunscreen are cruelty-free.

Maybe consider a “theme” for your gift-giving this year. Birthdays, holidays, or just-because days are perfect opportunities to introduce your loved ones to the benefits of vegan beauty products.

Why not take your sharing a step further? Showcase your vegan beauty favorites on your social media platforms. You’d be surprised how far your voice can reach and how much influence you can have, even on non-vegan companies and consumers.

Of course, we’d love to hear about your vegan discoveries too! Sharing here means we can learn more, support more vegan brands, and together, grow this compassionate community.

planet Earth in the shape of a heart with a butterfly perched on the right side of the heart. Open hands underneath the heart

Remember, your compassionate choices echo far beyond your skincare routine or the food on your plate. By choosing vegan, you’re opting for products that are often better for your health, for the environment, and most definitely for the animals.

Feeling overwhelmed by some of what you’ve read? I get it. In that case, focus on JUST ONE THING. Here’s to embracing progress, one product at a time, and celebrating each stride we take on this beautiful journey toward a more compassionate world. Let’s get started, shall we?

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