For an ingredient to qualify as vegan, it must not contain animal products or byproducts and it must not be tested or tried on animals. While the foods that vegans should avoid are quite obvious, I’m gonna go through some not-so-obvious non-vegan skincare ingredients that every vegan should look out for.
Such ingredients can be difficult to spot since the majority are used as preservatives or actives and go by names that do not relate to animals.
So how can you tell apart vegan skincare from a non-vegan one?
Non-Vegan Skincare Ingredients Vegans Need To Look Out For
This blog post talks about 9 of the sneakiest non-vegan skincare ingredients to look out for in presumed vegan skincare. See 11 Luxury Vegan Skincare Brands that should be on your shopping list for some 100% vegan skincare brands!
I have carefully reasearched and currated this post to help you locate the tricky ingredients on the long scientific ingredients list.
List of Non-Vegan Skincare Ingredients
Lanolin is also called wool wax and is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals.
Lanolin used in skincare comes from sheep raised specifically for their wool. It is mainly used in lip balms and other types of balms as it has moisturizing properties.
2. Carmine (carminic acid or carmine cochineal)
Carmine is a bright red colouring obtained from crushing cochineal beetles and probably one of the trickiest non-vegan skincare ingredients out there!
It’s used in beauty products to provide the dye used to give products their red or pink shade.
Make sure you investigate those coloured products deeper as they may list it as “Natural Red 4”, “B Rose Liquid”, “Natural Dyes”, “Natural Pigments”, “Crimson Lake,” or “C.I.” which is very sneaky.
3. Vitamin D3
A lot of vegan skincare products have vitamin D, however, it’s good to know that not all types of vitamin D are vegan.
Vitamin D3 is derived from lanolin mentioned earlier found in sheep’s wool or fish liver oils.
It’s commonly used to help treat skin conditions like dry skin, psoriasis, or eczema. Vitamin D3 is also common in supplements.
Although there is a vegan version of vitamin D3, always ensure it’s clearly indicated on the package. Vitamin D3 raises your vitamin D levels significantly more than vitamin D2 which is normally the vegan version.
Lactic acid is a naturally occurring byproduct of fermentation, and it can be both vegan and non-vegan.
Beeswax is found in so many skincare products.
It’s also the one to really look out for as it can go unnoticed. It can create a protective layer on the skin and it’s a humectant, which means that it attracts water.
All these qualities can help the skin stay moisturized. Beeswax is also a natural exfoliator, ideal for removing dead skin cells.
Gelatin is an animal protein obtained by boiling animal parts.
It is an ingredient in face creams, bath salts, body lotions, shampoos, sunscreens, hair sprays and many more products in the beauty industry.
It is dermatologically well-tolerated, free of harmful substances and acts as an effective moisturiser in creams and lotions, but NOT vegan.
Castorium is a secretion that comes from the anal glands of beavers.
It is found in perfumes and cosmetics and sometimes it is just labelled as ‘parfum’, which makes it extremely hard to spot.
7. Lactic acid
It is commonly used as an exfoliating active in skincare.
It’s always hard to tell whether the lactic acid in a skincare product is vegan or not, so read the ingredients carefully and always choose products with a vegan seal. Get your own Vegan Lactic Acid Mask.
8. L. Cysteine
L. Cysteine is an amino acid obtained from cow horns, chicken, and duck feathers and often human hair.
L. Cysteine helps reduce the effects of ageing on the skin and it may help to heal after surgery or burns and protect the skin from radiation injury.
Lecithin is an ingredient found in animal tissues, egg yolks, and soybeans.
Lecithin in skincare formulations functions as an emollient, water-binding agent, and emulsifying agent. It’s found in a lot of products to perfect the formula.
Recognizing vegan ingredients from non-vegan skincare ingredients can be quite the challenge if you have no idea of what the name means or where the ingredients originate, especially if it’s named “natural red 4”.
We all know that if we see “fish collagen” that the product’s ingredients come from fish, but the ingredients listed in this article can sometimes be listed as ingredients in plant-based skincare that are supposedly suitable for vegans.
Always go through the ingredients list with care. Search for vegan trademarks like a vegan seal as that signifies an authentic vegan product and then you know that this has been checked by vegan associations!
Together we can make sure to spot all the non-vegan skincare ingredients, so make sure you leave a comment below with any additional ingredients that are not listed above!
Have you used any of these products and how did they work for you?