What Is Vegan vs. Cruelty-Free Makeup?

by Edie Horstman

Whether you’ve embraced a vegan lifestyle, or are simply looking for plant-based, cruelty-free skin-care products, it’s never been easier to incorporate vegan makeup. In fact, more and more beauty brands are jumping on the bandwagon, as consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and passionate about the ingredients in their beauty routines. At Shared Planet, all products are created with the consumer, the planet and animals in mind. Not only are the formulas vegan, but they are made without harsh chemicals, animal testing or child labor. Many other emerging brands in the industry are also pledging to meet the same standards.

Vegan vs. Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

Before we dive into the importance of this movement, let’s get on the same page about makeup vocab. While they are often used interchangeably, vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics are slightly different. The most important distinction? A product can be cruelty-free without being vegan. In essence, a vegan product contains zero animal (or animal-derived) ingredients. A few of the most common animal ingredients are gelatin, shellac, squalene, collagen, honey, lanolin and beeswax. Thankfully, there are many alternatives.

For a beauty product to be cruelty-free, there should be no form of animal testing done at any point in the process of creation, regardless of the ingredients used to make the product. Additionally, there’s another caveat: A product is not cruelty-free if it is sold in markets where products are tested on animals. For example, in China, any products (even if they are made with vegan ingredients) aren’t considered cruelty-free. Reason being, China has its own regulatory system that actually requires animal testing. When in doubt, reach out to your favorite makeup brands for full transparency on their products.

Why Incorporate Vegan Makeup into Your Routine?

While veganism and plant-based eating have gained popularity in recent years, adhering to a completely vegan lifestyle — beauty and makeup products included — has been slower on the uptick. However, with an increase in vegan, cruelty-free and plant-based cosmetics on the market, it’s no longer as daunting to do so. Plus, choosing vegan products is an opportunity to put your dollars toward companies that care about your health, animal welfare and the future of our planet.

As our skin is the human body’s largest organ, absorbing up to 60% of the products lathered on, so  avoiding animal by-products, synthetic chemicals and harsh compounds is key. Furthermore, for those with condition-prone or sensitive skin, vegan products are known to be superior — in both their mild ingredients and their soothing elements. Plus, many plant-derived compounds are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are wonderful for the skin. Last but not least, because no animals are harmed in the process of creating vegan products, they are eco-friendlier and more sustainable than their counterparts. In fact, they’re helping save the planet.

Pioneering Vegan and Cruelty-Free Brands

Whether you consume animal products or not, embracing vegan beauty products is easier than ever, thanks to cutting-edge technology and a variety of cruelty-free brands on the market. These brands are taking beauty and skin care to the next level, along with showing their support for animals and encouraging consumers to be kinder to the earth. In addition to Shared Planet, Biossance, Glossier Play, Nude by Nature and Ilia are all helping lead the movement for vegan and cruelty-free beauty.

Drawing on science and sustainability, Biossance has created a skin-care line that is not only incredibly effective but safe for the environment and animals. This brand has set incredibly high standards for clean beauty. Glossier Play — a recently launched component of Glossier — has five new glitter and color makeup products that are completely vegan. These are great for those who want to add a bit of sparkle to their makeup routines. Nude by Nature uses only 100% natural ingredients and has a variety of vegan products, like foundation, bronzer and eye shadow. And last but not least, a majority of Ilia’s line is vegan. Happy shopping!

Edie Horstman is a certified integrative nutrition health coach, a wellness blogger and a freelance writer. She works with health-focused brands, cocreating content in the digital marketing space. She lives in Denver, Colorado.