As more and more of us are becoming aware of the potentially harmful and downright unethical practices behind some of our favourite beauty products, vegan friendly skincare alternatives are coming to the fore.
The vegan beauty UK scene has exploded in recent years.
#VeganBeauty racks up more than two million hits on social media.
Of all new vegan items launched in the UK in 2020, 82% were in the beauty category.
Meaning there’s never been a better time to join the V-gang.
And let’s face it, creating a vegan skincare and beauty regime could be a good place to start if you’re having trouble kicking the milk chocolate habit.
pebble’s Ultimate Vegan Beauty Guide
Opting for cruelty free beauty has benefits beyond the nice feeling you get from knowing your killer makeup doesn’t involve any actual suffering.
Brands that are transparent about ingredients and care about animal welfare, generally speaking, tend to care about the wellbeing of our planet too.
The UK’s vegan beauty brands are more likely to:
- champion natural, non toxic and organic ingredients
- lead the charge on plastic free packaging.
By choosing vegan beauty products you are making a better decision for our earth and all of its inhabitants.
Plus, vegan beauty is usually kinder to our skin and these days many vegan skincare products outperform their non vegan equivalents, so make the switch and watch the compliments roll in.
Jump straight to the below sections to find the right vegan skincare inspiration for you.
- How is vegan skincare better for the environment?
- Handy vegan ingredients checklist
- Does vegan beauty mean it’s cruelty-free?
- pebble’s easy vegan beauty tips
- 10 Vegan Beauty Essentials
How is vegan beauty better for the environment?
1. It uses fewer resources
Did you know one quarter of the world’s freshwater supply is drained by meat and dairy production?
What’s more, studies have shown that a global shift to a vegan diet would reduce land use by a whopping 75% and carbon emissions by up to 70%.
Beauty products often contain byproducts of the agricultural industry, so by removing all traces of animals from your toiletries you are easing the pressure on our water supply, land and carbon footprint.
2. It helps preserves biodiversity
Choosing plant based skincare means less animals’ lives cut short by our skincare routines.
Happily, there are now more than 5,500 companies in PETA’s database of cruelty free brands.
See our roundup of brands championing plant based and organic ingredients here.
Additionally, many vegan beauty products meet organic and biodynamic standards, which avoid the use of pollinator-killing pesticides while keeping our soils healthy.
3. Think about packaging
One ugly side to the beauty industry revolves around packaging.
According to Zero Waste Week, more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year by the cosmetics industry, from single-use plastic to impossible to recycle mixed materials.
The best vegan beauty brands consider the environmental impact of their range from start to finish.
- recycled, recyclable and biodegradable packaging
Learn how to perfect your sustainable skincare routine.
Our handy vegan ingredients checklist
Get to know your keratin from your carmine with our handy vegan ingredients checklist.
Plus we’ve included some common vegan safe alternative ingredients so you’ll have that vegan skincare regime nailed in no time.
1. Beeswax (Cera Alba)
Beeswax is traditionally used to improve consistency, add structure and some waterproofing to natural products.
Vegan friendly alternatives with similar properties include candelilla and carnauba wax.
2. Carmine (cochineal extract, natural red 4,carmine lake, C.I. 75470, or E120)
A bright red pigment derived from the crushed bodies of female Cochineal insects, traditionally found in lipsticks and blush.
One lipstick could contain as many as 1,000 bugs!
Thankfully research into ethical alternatives using beetroot extract and sweet potato are yielding results, while Unilever is rolling out its Carmine replacement this year (although other ethical issues surround the multinational).
According to PETA, most collagen supplements on the market are derived from bovine connective tissue or fish.
But there is a way to restore collagen which doesn’t involve an animal carcass. Eating more plants!
Ideally the dark leafy green sort and Vitamin C rich fruit and veg such as red bell peppers, tomatoes and citrus fruits.
Need plant based cooking inspiration? Discover our favourite vegan cookbooks.
4. Honey (Mel)
Honey has been used throughout history for its soothing, antibacterial properties but generally vegans think honey is bees’ business and should stay that way.
Shea butter is a vegan friendly alternative which can lock in moisture while essential oils such as tea tree oil could provide the antibacterial and antifungal benefits.
5. Lanolin (lanfrax)
Lanolin is a waxy substance extracted from sheep’s wool which has found its way into our personal care products and lipsticks.
It locks in moisture, gives lipsticks a glossy sheen and acts as an emollient.
While the mass production of lanolin doesn’t directly kill the sheep, it is a byproduct from an animal which will eventually be slaughtered.
Vegan beauty brands leave lanolin out, opting for plant based waxes instead.
Shellac is a resin secreted by the lac insect as part of their reproductive process. It is most commonly found in nail polish.
But these days you can get your hands on vegan polish, acrylic and gels. They create the varnished look using natural or man-made substances, such as aluminium or faux pearl.
Squalane was originally sourced from the livers of deep sea sharks for its moisturising properties.
An estimated 2.7 million sharks are killed annually in our pursuit of supple skin despite there being sustainable plant based alternatives readily available.
Olives, date palm and sugar cane are also a source of squalene.
The Ordinary uses a ECOCERT approved plant based squalane in its serum.
*Note that squalane, hyaluronic acid and keratin will be written the same whether they are vegan or animal derived. In these cases you would look for certification or ask for further clarification from the brand.
You might assume that a vegan product wouldn’t be tested on animals, or that animal byproducts wouldn’t be found in cruelty free products but unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
Plant-based expert Jennifer Hirsch, AKA, The Beauty Botanist explains:
“Cruelty free means that neither the product nor the ingredients nor their component parts have been tested on animals (look for Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny logo or PETA’s bunny ear logo).
Some animal-derived ingredients like bee ingredients and lanolin are considered harmfree, so can be found in cruelty-free products. Those ingredients won’t be found in vegan products, however vegan products can contain ingredients that have been tested on animals.”
- Choose multi-use products
Why not free two birds with one key and select dual-purpose products. It saves resources while decluttering your makeup bag.
- Go DIY
One surefire way to know what ingredients are in your lotions and potions is to make them yourself.
Find our best DIY beauty recipes and tips here.
- Do your reading
Get used to scouring the back of bottles. Bookmark handy resources like PETA’s extensive list of cruelty free brands.
As well as the Vegan Society and Plant Based News, follow bloggers such as Vegan Beauty Girl.
And don’t forget to download our sustainable skincare guide.
- Join the slow beauty movement
Always use up what you have first before seeking out sustainable vegan safe alternatives.
- Take the less is more approach
This has been recently rebranded as skinimalism (skin-minimalism) which prioritises simple yet effective ingredients which keep nature and wellbeing in mind.
It’s never been easier to take the cruelty out of your cosmetics.
Here are our favourite vegan beauty products available now in Boots.
1. For nourished hair and skin
The Ordinary’s Organic, Cold Pressed Argan Oil is a one ingredient wonder product which is full of fatty acids (the plantbased kind), vitamins and other nature-derived goodness that will give your hair that post-salon sheen and improve the appearance of dull flaky patches.
2. For a plastic free bathroom
3. For a fresh faced look
As well as being Leaping Bunny and Soil Association certified, Botanics is aiming for its entire range to be suitable for vegans by 2023.
4. For voluptuous lips
The search for a vegan friendly lipstick that’s rich in pigment and staying power but low on nasties is over.
BareMinerals Mineralist® Hydra-Smoothing Lipstick is free from parabens and synthetic fragrance and comes in 25 shades, that’s one for every post-lockdown occasion you can think of.
5. For flawless coverage
Complete your look with this high performing plant based powder from Kat Von D which is formulated with rice powder extract and mattifying kaolin, a clay mineral. The compact is refillable so you save on plastic too.
6. For a radiant glow
For a cruelty free contour opt for this vitamin E-enriched baked highlighter from e.l.f cosmetics.
While not refillable, it is one of the few highlighters available at Boots that doesn’t contain beeswax. Plus, it’s not too spenny either.
7. For power nails
From zingy neon hues to muted autumnal shades, My Mood have nailed it with their exclusive-to-Boots vegan and cruelty free polish. Opt for Soul for a fishscale free shimmer.
8. For a refined no-makeup look
Original purveyor of plant based ingredients BareMinerals is your go-to for natural looking makeup that’s kind to your skin and our planet.
This lightweight mineral powder is suitable for sensitive skin. The SPF15 formula only contains five ingredients and none of them are taken from animals. Hurrah!
9. For fresh pits
Clear your conscience and the air with this aluminium free coconut-based deodorant from Kopai. It offers plant-powered odour protection that’s free from cruelty, sulphates, parabens, silicones and phthalates. Ideal for long lasting freshness with minimal environmental impact.
Get the lowdown on no fuss vegan, all natural deodorants here.
10. For effortless application
We love the Bioblender makeup sponge which is home compostable.
Ready to take your self care to the next level?