Vegans arguably lead the way in not wanting to hurt animals. Veganism however, is about more than just cutting out animal foods like marshmallows and meat. It is about avoiding animal-based products altogether and is defined as ‘the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals’. It is about saying yes to animal rights and no to animal cruelty. For that reason certain beauty brands and cosmetic products don’t fit into a true vegan lifestyle.
The first and most obvious reason for vegans, vegetarians and animal lovers to avoid certain cosmetic products is animal testing. PETA says: ‘Hundreds of thousands of animals are poisoned, blinded, and killed every year in archaic product tests for cosmetics, personal-care products, household cleaning products, and even fruit juices. Although more than 1,300 companies have banned all animal tests, some corporations still force substances into animals’ stomachs and drip chemicals into rabbits’ eyes. These tests are not required by law and they often produce inaccurate or misleading results—even if a product has blinded an animal, it can still be marketed to you.
But fortunately not all cosmetic brands use animal testing to determine the efficiency and the potential risks and side effects of new beauty products. Many brands use alternative methods to test their products and the list of cruelty-free cosmetic brands continues to get longer every year. There are currently over 1,700 cruelty free cosmetics brands in the PETA database and that number is still growing. The Body Shop, Smashbox, NYX, LUSH, Aveda and ‘Yes To’ are just some of the many animal-friendly cosmetic brands out there.
Animal based ingredients
But it is not just animal testing that can make certain beauty products unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians. It is also the formulas. Many make-up and skincare products contain animal parts and animal byproducts, often without the consumer even realizing it. Some examples? Squirrel and mink hair in make-up brushes, beeswax in lip care, carmine from ground beetles in lipsticks and blushes, animal collagen and keratin in skin and hair care products, bee venom and snail slime in anti-aging creams, the list goes on and on. And don’t be fooled into thinking that these ingredients are obtained in an animal-friendly way. The harsh reality is that every year more than 100 million animals suffer and die purely for the sake of our beauty.
So how can you make sure that your favorite shampoo hasn’t been tested on rabbits and how can you be certain that that gorgeous lip gloss you have been eyeing doesn’t get its beautiful red hue from crushed beetle juice? Carefully reading the ingredient list on the back of a product and knowing your ingredients is a good start, as is checking the packaging for the PETA Cruelty-Free logo or checking the organization’s online database. Just to be clear, we are not pointing fingers here and we not trying to tell people what to do. Everyone is free to make his or her own decisions however to do so you need information. I sure felt shocked when I learned that my anti-wrinkle cream contains animal fat and that my favorite blush has mashed-up beetles in it…
Melissa Van Roosbroeck is a style and fashion writer.