Why it is important to choose vegan and cruelty free skin-care:
Many brands use nowadays the term vegan, and when it comes to mostly non-European brands we can also see the usage of "cruelty-free" but what does it mean? What is the difference between the two and what type of ingredients you could expect in a non-vegan cosmetic products?
Difference between cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics:
You have probably heard many times the terms cruelty free and/or vegan but these words stand for different things. One describes rather the process of fabrication and testing and the other the content of a product.
Cruelty-free stands for cosmetics (or their ingredients) that have not been tested on animals. This refers to a testing process and therefore a product that is cruelty-free doesn’t have to be necessary vegan as well. The European Union has banned animal testing in 2013 but we will see further below that you can support indirectly animal testing elsewhere in the world by the brand you choose.
Vegan product does not contain any ingredient derived from an animal and thus provides more information about the content of the product rather than the process of fabrication. Although, once a company claims to have vegan products it goes without saying a products is also cruelty-free.
Over 40 countries have banned animal testing of cosmetics but several big markets still request companies to test various skin and body care products this way to reach their customers.
In 2013, the European Union banned these practices for any company that wants to put their products on the shelfs of shops in the EU Members states. This decision was followed by Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. In 2019, countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Canada, Brazil, Japan, the US and Australia started the process of phasing out animal testing.
In 2015, the US has introduced the Humane Cosmetics Act to ban animal testing and although the animal testing is not required in the country, the ban has not been implemented til today.
China, remained for many years the biggest market that required animal testing for all imported cosmetics. In July 2020 the government announced that imported ordinary cosmetics (such as shampoo, mascara, blush etc) won’t be subjected to pre-market testing from 2021. That is a great step forward for such a big market as China. Unfortunately, deodorants are not included in this category and might be subjected to animal testing even after the latest legislation comes into force.
Do I support a brand that tests products on animals outside the EU?
Even though you live in a country that has banned animal testing you can indirectly support a brand that goes in to this practice in order to follow a legislation elsewhere. The cruelty-free collections prepared a list of brands that still continue to test on animals in 2020. You can see it here and check which brands are not cruelty-free.
Why you should choose vegan and not only cruelty-free brands? Alright, you have checked that your favourite brand is fair, cruelty free and organic so why all the ingredients need to be necessarily vegan? Some animal-derived ingredients are a by-product of meat industry (such as animal fat, skin, hair or bones) that by itself has a great impact on the environment, land use, water usage and in many cases is very cruel to animals raised for meat. However, several other widely used ingredients are just -gross. Crushed cochineal bugs for a red colour called carmine or lac bugs for glaze in some nail polishes.
Here are several non-vegan ingredients you might want to avoid:
Carmine: as mentioned above, carmine is a red colorant obtained from crushed cochineal bugs. It is widely used by many food and cosmetic brands for its bright red colour. In terms of make-up, it can be often found in eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks.
Shellac: is a resinous product obtained from lac bugs for its glaze, mostly used in nail products and hair lacquers
Glycerine: is obtained from animal fats (mostly skins) and used in many products such as soaps, hair care, make-up etc. Vegetable glycerine is however widely used in cosmetics as a more natural alternative.
Casein: derived generally from cow’s milk for various hair and face treatment. There are, nonetheless, alternatives from plant-based milks available.
Squalene: extracted from shark liver oil, commonly used in lip balms, deodorants and moisturisers.
Guanine: created by scrapping scales of dead fish, might be used in nail polishes, eyeshadows, highlighters, bronzers and blushes.
Oleic acid: comes from animal fat and is used as softening, conditioning and emollient agent in nail polishes, soaps and other products. However, a vegetable alternative is widely used.
Animal hair: used for brushes or fake eye-lushes, even those marked as cruelty-free can be sourced from fox, sable, horse, goat, mink or squirrel.
Keratin: extracted from animal horns and hair to be used as a strengthening nail and hair ingredient. Soy protein or almond oil can be used as vegan alternatives.
Collagen: derived from animal tissue, bone, skin or ligaments. Plant-based alternatives are available.
Stearic Acid: derived from pigs’ stomachs but exists also in an alternative from plants
Lanolin: emollient from sheep wool, used in balms, sticks, glosses.
Find out more details about these ingredients here.
Going beyond vegan ingredients?
Vegan composition is a good start for making a natural product that will be harmless to animals but it should not stop there when it comes to ethical sourcing. We have all seen images of orangutans being chased away and killed because of palm oil plantations. Additionally, vegan ingredients can also include parabens or artificial fragrances that might be harmful to your body. For these reasons at MIKLØ bodycare, we go all natural and we are doing out best to go as local as we can when it comes to sourcing, looking for ingredients that can be repurposed such as organic grape seed oil as a by product of the jus and wine industry or rosemary essential oil cultivated ethically in Spain etc.