Non-Vegan Makeup Ingredients

Examples of non-vegan ingredients in cosmetics include honey, crushed insects (carmine), and animal fats, and it’s not just the things you apply but the brushes you apply them with. Unfortunately, many of the leading cosmetic brands are far from transparent when it comes to being vegan and cruelty-free. Rather than wasting time corresponding with their marketing department and getting the same generic email response, seek out upfront vegan-and-proud makeup brands, after all they put the effort in so why not send them your pennies?

Beeswax and Honey in Makeup

Not everyone looking for vegan makeup is necessarily vegan of course, some people just don’t fancy the idea of spreading crushed bug juice across their lips, or applying ground up animals to their eyelids with the tail-hair of a mink. Cruelty-free makeup is that not tested on animals but it might not actually mean that the makeup is vegan. There are different ideas of cruelty in the cosmetic world, so it’s only really those products labelled as vegan that can generally be taken to be both cruelty-free and vegan. Even then, some mislabelling means that a ‘vegan’ product contains bee-products or an animal-derived nutrient.

Some other non-vegan makeup ingredients to look out for:

  • silk powder
  • carmine (carminic acid)
  • beeswax (cera alba)
  • honey
  • propolis
  • lanolin (and various derivatives, including triterpene alcohol)
  • allantoin
  • alpha-hydroxy acids (often in anti-wrinkle creams and exfoliants)
  • ambergris
  • arachidonic acid
  • biotin (often in shampoos)
  • caprylic acid
  • cochineal
  • castor (castoreum – from beavers’ anal glands, oh yes)
  • cerebrosides
  • cetyl alcohol
  • cholesterol
  • collagen
  • chitosan
  • L-cysteine
  • cystine
  • emu oil
  • oestrogen (estradiol)
  • fish scales (in shimmery makeup!)
  • gelatin
  • glycerin
  • guanine
  • hyaluronic acid
  • keratin
  • lard
  • linoleic acid
  • lecithin
  • monoglycerides, glycerides
  • mink oil
  • myristic acid
  • oleic acids
  • nucleic acids
  • panthenol (provitamin B5 and derivatives)
  • palmitic acid
  • polypeptides
  • polysorbates
  • pristane
  • progesterone
  • shellac
  • RNA
  • royal jelly
  • snails
  • squalene
  • stearic acid
  • turtle oil
  • urea (uric acid)
  • vitamin A (retinol)
  • vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)

That got to be quite a list, and I’m sure it’s not exhaustive. The best bet for vegans shopping for makeup is to check out some of these self-declared vegan makeup brands so as to avoid non-vegan makeup ingredients.

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