Everyone has heard of vegan food and they know the general concept: vegan food doesn’t contain any part of an animal or anything from an animal. For example, not only is vegan food meat-free, it also doesn’t include milk, cheese, eggs, or anything else that animals produce. So when you think “vegan,” you probably think “no meat, no dairy.”
That’s why the idea of vegan skin care throws some people for a loop. Aren’t skin care products vegan already? Have I been using a moisturizer that contained meat and milk for years and I didn’t realize it? Yuck.
Luckily, no, you haven’t been slathering your face with beef. Let’s look at what vegan skin care actually is and how you can make the switch.
What Makes a Skincare Product Vegan?
Simply put, a vegan skin care products is a product that contains no ingredients that are produced or derived from animals. There are actually more animal-derived ingredients in skin care than you probably realize. Collagen is one common example, along with honey, beeswax, gelatin, and lanolin to name a few.
Most people who choose vegan skin care have made this choice for the sake of ethics. They don’t want to support using animals for cosmetic purposes. Vegan skin care is often better for the environment too, because some ways of obtaining animal products can disrupt natural ecosystems and cause environmental damage.
What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free?
This is one of the most common causes of confusion: vegan skin care and cruelty-free skin care are not the same. They’re both animal-friendly, but the criteria for these two labels is very different.
While vegan skin care refers to the ingredients in a skin care product, cruelty-free skin care refers to the way the products and ingredients are tested. For a product to be cruelty-free, neither the product nor any of its ingredients can be tested on animals. You might see that a lot of products that are both vegan and cruelty-free, because they want to appeal to people who want animal-friendly products, but it’s important to note that a cruelty-free label doesn’t necessarily mean the product is vegan.
Tips for Transitioning to Vegan Skincare Products
Have you switched to a vegan diet or do you know anyone who has? If so, you probably know that if you change to a completely vegan diet overnight, it’s not easy on your body. Your body has been used to certain types of foods for decades so when you pull a sudden switch-a-roo, it’s going to give you some push-back.
Just as with a vegan diet, switching to vegan skin care takes some strategy. Use these tips to shop for the right products and to make a smooth transition.
Take Stock First
Before you go throwing out all your skin care products, take a beat to look at each one more closely. You might already be using some vegan products without realizing it. Check each item for a vegan certification (more on that in a moment). If you don’t see that seal, it’s possible the product is still vegan but hasn’t applied for a vegan certification. Look up the product online to see if there are any indications that it’s vegan.
Look for the Vegan Certification
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no “official” vegan certification. There are several independent organizations that award their own certifications, and skin care manufacturers get these certifications by submitting their products for evaluation. All of these vegan certifications apply to individual products, not brands overall.
There are three particularly common vegan certifications you might see, and they’re from Vegan Action, The Vegan Society, and PETA. Could a product be vegan even if it doesn’t have one of these seals? Absolutely. But keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t evaluate the claims that skin care products make until there is a complaint, so technically, any manufacturer could call their product vegan until they get caught. Those with vegan certifications on the label are more likely to be trustworthy.
Don’t Assume “Vegan” Means “Healthy”
This is a big one: people associate vegan food with health food, so when they see vegan skin care products, they assume these products are healthier and gentler for their skin. That’s not necessarily true. Vegan skin care can still contain harsh ingredients, so check the label for ingredients that tend to trigger your inflammation. If you have sensitive skin, make sure you’re looking for products that are both vegan and designed for sensitive skin.
Take It Slow
There’s a golden rule in skin care: don’t change your routine too much at once. Everyone’s skin is unique, and any product could cause your skin to break out or could create inflammation.
As you switch to vegan products, only change one product in your routine at a time. For instance, start by swapping your old neck cream with a vegan neck cream. Keep your other products the same until you’ve used the new product for a few weeks. If you haven’t spotted any negative side effects from the change, you have the green light to swap out another product in your routine and repeat the same process.
If one of your new products does irritate your skin, don’t worry – it doesn’t mean your quest to go vegan is over. There are plenty of vegan products out there, so choose another vegan product to replace the irritating one and see how it works.
Transitioning to Vegan Skin Care
Making the switch to vegan skin care is a favor you’re doing for animals worldwide as well as the planet overall, and it doesn’t have to feel like a sacrifice. There are enough vegan products that you can find the ideal combination for your skin. Go forth and enjoy the exploration!