Vegan cosmetics have revolutionized the way cosmetics are manufactured, adapting to a growing consumer demand, which encompasses different sectors and, ultimately, a responsible and sustainable lifestyle.
In fact, the cosmetics industry has long since changed its production methods to move away from chemicals and market more natural products. European Directive 2003/15/EC regulates the reduction in the use of chemicals in cosmetic products and establishes a list of substances whose use is prohibited or restricted because they have been shown to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction.
The alternative to traditional cosmetics is natural and vegan, but we must not confuse them, as the former does not use chemicals but does use ingredients of animal origin.
What is a vegan cosmetic?
Vegan cosmetics are those personal care and hygiene products that do not contain animal-derived ingredients or derivatives, nor have they been tested on animals. They also do not contain synthetic ingredients tested on animals.
The main ingredients of animal origin that vegan cosmetics leave out are hyaluronic acid, beeswax, honey, keratin and silk, among others.
In order not to use ingredients of animal origin, 100% vegan cosmetics are nourished by minerals and vegetable ingredients.
Animal testing on finished cosmetic products has been prohibited in the European Union since 2004 and on cosmetic ingredients since 2009. Since that year it has also been banned from marketing in the EU. And since 2013, the marketing of any cosmetic product that has been tested on animals has been prohibited.
Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council requires the use of alternative methods to animal testing whenever possible and establishes a framework to ensure that animal testing is carried out ethically and with the least possible suffering.
Ingredients of vegan cosmetics
Some of the most commonly used active ingredients in vegan cosmetics are the coconut oil, which is a natural moisturizer rich in lauric acid; the jojoba oil, which is easily absorbed into the skin due to its similarity to natural sebum and helps to moisturize and reduce inflammation. Rosehip oil which is well known and used in a multitude of cosmetics as a potent anti-aging active ingredient because it is rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids; and aloe vera, it is also moisturizing and has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
To avoid using chemicals and animal ingredients, vegan cosmetics manufacturers use:
- Vegetable oils: Vegetable oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil and shea butter are commonly used in vegan cosmetics as skin moisturizing and softening agents.
- Vegetable waxes: vegetable waxes such as carnauba wax and candelilla wax are used as emulsifying and thickening agents.
- Plant extracts: green tea, chamomile, lavender and aloe vera are used in vegan cosmetics for their moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Essential oils: lavender oil, rose oil and tea tree oil are used in vegan cosmetics for their aromatic and therapeutic properties.
- Clays: used for their cleansing and exfoliating properties.
- Starches: vegetable starches and gums such as xanthan gum and guar gum have a place in vegan cosmetics as thickening and stabilizing agents.
In addition to having a positive impact on the environment, or at least leaving no footprint on it, by using only products of natural origin, vegan cosmetics offer greater tolerance and are less likely to cause allergic reactions or skin irritations.
How to know if a cosmetic is vegan
Companies that produce vegan cosmetics use different seals so that consumers can identify and differentiate these products from others.
The Vegan Society seal certifies that there are no ingredients of animal origin and that no animals have been used in the development of the product or its ingredients.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the concepts of vegan and natural cosmetics can be confused. What must be clear is that vegan cosmetics contain no animal ingredients and no animals are used in their production. Natural guarantees that no chemicals have been used, but it may contain ingredients of animal origin.
And there is another concept, which is cruelty-free, which guarantees that the ingredients used in the manufacture of a cosmetic have not been tested on animals. That is, it may contain ingredients of animal origin.
There are three seals, more or less used, referring to cruelty-free products..:
- PETA awards the cruelty-free seal to companies that do not charge or pay for any animal testing.
- Choose Cruelty Free (CCF): also certifies that neither the company nor its suppliers use animal testing. If the company belongs to a corporate group, the entire group must be certified.
- Leaping Bunny certifies that neither the brand nor its suppliers have tested on animals. In order to obtain it, it is necessary to undergo an audit, which is renewed every three years.