It has never been more on trend to adopt a particular kind of lifestyle than it is now, and veganism is certainly having its moment.
Social media 'influencers' have had a significant impact on the way the vegan lifestyle has inspired us. Many 'influencers' have millions of followers who look to them for information, the latest trends, or to copy the products they buy or the food they eat. Their lifestyles are often portrayed as picture perfect and glamorous meaning their diet and beauty choices have become increasingly more desirable in the past few years. The hashtag #Vegan has been used over 36 million times on Instagram to this date, that's 36 million people talking about something vegan on Instagram alone!
What is veganism?
Surprisingly, the term 'vegan' has only been around since 1944. The term was coined by the co-founder of the vegan society in England when the organisation wanted a section in the newsletter for the people who were then called 'non-dairy vegetarians'. Other suggested names included were 'dairy ban', 'benevore', 'sanivores' and 'beaumangeur'. Despite its 're-branding' in the 1940's, it wasn't until the 2010's when the vegan lifestyle picked up pace and stores, foods and clothes were popping up around the world.
To be a vegan, it means you abstain from the use of animal products. There are a few branches of the vegan lifestyle including the term 'dietary vegans' who refrain from consuming animals products including meat, eggs and dairy. There are 'ethical vegans' who not only sustain a vegan diet, but they also extend the lifestyle to other areas such as cosmetics and clothing. There is also the 'environmental vegan', which refers to people who avoid animal products on the premise that the harvesting or industrial farming of animals is also unsustainable and environmentally damaging.
However, when you think of vegan beauty do you assume that because they're safe for our animals and usually the planet that they are okay for us too? You would believe that ‘vegan beauty’ and 'green beauty' would go hand in hand, but sadly that is not the case.
What is vegan beauty?
In a nutshell ‘Vegan beauty’ are cosmetics that do not contain anything derived from an animal and they have not undergone any animal testing at any stage of production. Be careful when shopping for vegan beauty, your new lipstick may be entirely plant-based, but the brand may still test on animals. Also, if a company says they're 'cruelty-free' and not 'vegan' their products may also contain animal products - the brand has to tick both boxes to be completely vegan.
Does 'vegan' mean 'clean'?
Unfortunately, no. Vegan does not necessarily mean clean. Green beauty brands pride themselves on the fact they use natural, safe and sustainable ingredients for us; however, vegan brands may still be averse to using ingredients which green beauty brands will avoid at all costs. We're not saying that all brands are guilty of this, so we want to look at what may still be hiding away in your vegan cosmetics.
If you are already doing your bit to save animals from harm within the beauty industry, why not go ahead and make sure they are right for you too?
How to get the best out of your vegan beautyIngredients
You may find that even if your beauty brand of choice is proudly vegan, they could still be using questionable ingredients. Many beauty products will still contain synthetic chemicals which may be absorbed by your skin. If you're new to natural beauty, but buy vegan, here is a better understanding of a small number of ingredients to avoid when shopping clean, green and vegan.
Synthetic Colours - One of the most common red pigments in beauty products is from the red cochineal beetle, an ingredient known as Carmine. So this has to be replaced with either something plant-based or synthetic. Natural beauty brands and researchers have spent years looking for natural alternatives to finding the ideal classic red to create the classic red lip look, and this now being utilised wonderfully by brands such as Axiology.
Synthetic colours in conventional beauty originate from petroleum or coal and tar sources, which can cause irritation to the skin. When buying vegan beauty, look for approved mineral powder pigments, such as mica, iron oxide and titanium dioxide. Brands such as ZAO use nourishing plant extracts to add the colour to their products. Next time you discover the perfect red vegan lipstick, have a quick look to see what's creating the bright red hue that you’re transferring to your lips - is it natural or synthetic?
Parabens - If you're looking for the 'best in beauty' that is good for both you and the planet, then stay away from this top of the list toxin. Cosmetics such as makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and cleansers will often contain added parabens to prevent the growth of bacteria, mould and yeast. There are links between parabens and breast cancer and are thought to have estrogenic mimicking properties. Don't take the risk, think of your health too! Avoid the toxins, clean up your beauty act and look for natural preservatives such as vitamin E (listed as tocopherol), rosemary oil extract and antioxidants, which prevent the product from oxidisation.
Phthalates - Added to cosmetics to help lotions penetrate the skin's surface and soften the skin, phthalate is a chemical typically used to soften or increase flexibility in plastics. Despite being banned in the EU from being employed in children's toys, phthalates will still be in perfumes, hair care and creams. They are linked to reproductive defects, and it is known as a hormone disrupter.
Be very careful with what you are putting on your skin!
Sustainability & packaging
Part of living a vegan lifestyle is not just abstaining from eating and using animal products for your personal gain. It’s about caring and thinking of the impact you may have on the environment too.
If you're already checking your products for the vegan sign of approval, then rethinking the product as a whole is a good step towards being the best kind of beauty consumer you can be.
Manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware that there is a demand for eco-packaging, so it is becoming more of a standard feature at beauty counters and with brands. It’s always going to be in a brand's favour to be seen to be reducing waste and keeping Mother Nature in mind when designing their packaging.
The packaging of beauty products can sometimes be excessive, but this does not have to be the case. Shop beauty which utilises recyclable packaging, less packaging is a bonus and make sure you do the right thing if a product comes with extra boxes - recycle them or throw them on the compost pile.
Brands which tick all the boxes
The following brands know what they are doing when it comes to providing 'green' ingredients which are vegan approved and eco-friendly.
Inika - This luxury makeup brand does not just pride itself on being vegan. They're certified organic, use 100% natural minerals in their makeup and are utterly adored by makeup lovers around the world. Their high-performance products will not disappoint and will even impress the makeup addicts who love a bit of high-end conventional beauty. Their plastic packaging and boxes are 100% recyclable, too.
Pacifica - Known as one of the most sustainable makeup lines on the market, they make natural beauty accessible to everyone. Their range is 100% vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free. They're creative; they're free from ingredients such as parabens, sulphates, mineral oils and other ingredients you do not want on your skin. They're a sure thing when it comes to your search for clean, vegan beauty.
Pai - The experts for sensitive skin are not only packed with natural, skin-loving ingredients, but all of their products are also vegan, cruelty-free and packaged in recyclable plastic and cardboard. They use powerful, natural ingredients, free from irritating chemicals and all of their products are made in-house, reducing their carbon footprint.
Schmidt's - These vegan deodorants work. They're kind on your skin, kind to the planet and contain natural plant powders which do not block your pores, like some conventional deodorants which contain aluminium. They're certified vegan and cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny - so you've covered all bases!