Is Vegan Skincare Effective?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: May 2023.
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Vegan skincare does not include any animal-based ingredients, which are still quite common in the skincare world. However, thanks to the increase in awareness and the development of science, vegan skincare can be as effective.

The market for vegan skincare grows day by day. It is now clear, that veganism is not just a trend. It is here to stay. But how is vegan skincare as effective as non-vegan one? Let’s take a look.

What Is Vegan Skincare And Is It Effective?

The broad answer would be that yes, vegan skincare aka skincare free from animal products is effective. However, in order to claim it 100%, it is necessary to know what we are comparing it with. Because the effectiveness lies in the composition.

A limited vegan definition in skincare means that vegan skincare does not contain any animal-based ingredients. Unfortunately, many retailers still use the term superficially.

However, a more comprehensive definition suggests that vegan skincare is free from animal ingredients and is in no way related to animal cruelty. As veganism goes deeper than just the ingredients, we believe that vegan skincare should also be cruelty-free.

Several things inspire people to switch to purely plant-based products. With the rejection of animal products, many are setting an example for animal welfare. For some, the environment is important. 

More and more people do not want to further support the catastrophic conditions under which farm animals are kept for consumption. And as said, environmental protection also plays a role. Because factory farming drives pollution with greenhouse gases.

So, usually, the reason for choosing vegan skincare is not its effectiveness. Namely, the reasons are deeper. However, this does not mean that vegan skincare is not effective. And we believe that it is quite the opposite.

Vegan skincare is becoming more and more popular and awareness is growing over time. Both among consumers and producers. This means that vegan skincare products have become much more effective as technology has advanced.

In addition, conscious vegan brands also pay attention to environmental protection and health. So, most of their products are often organic, natural, and science-based. 

In order to take care of the skin, we need to know what we are applying to it. Overall, the skin absorbs most of what we put on it. The cleaner and more need-based it is, the better. So yes, we would say that vegan skincare is effective.

However, since many toxic ingredients can also be vegan by definition, some vegan skincare products may irritate the skin and not be effective. For example, parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde are very cheap to produce.

Fortunately, most skincare manufacturers these days avoid such ingredients. And usually, these components are found in cheap products. Our health is very important, so we recommend investing in quality and buying a few dollars more expensive products from conscious vegan skincare brands.

Effective Vegan Skincare

Many may worry that if their skincare has no animal-based active ingredients, it is not an effective product. However, this is not true. Science is a wonderful thing and has discovered herbal or synthetic vegan skincare alternatives. And they are just as effective.

Animal by-products were an important part of skincare at the very beginning, from the moment skincare became important. Logical, because people did not know much about other active ingredients or alternatives. Even today, the use of some animal-based components in skincare is still typical.

Effective vegan skincare is science-supported and need-based. It contains essential active ingredients and has no unnecessary additives. Effective vegan skincare products are designed for specific skin problems or skin types. Keeping in mind what is important in each case. 

As it is with non-vegan skin care. The only difference is that vegan skincare product does not contain any animal-based ingredients. Instead, it is made with effective plant-based or synthetic active ingredients.

Common non-vegan skincare ingredients and their effective vegan alternatives are: 

  • Beeswax — bees excrete the wax to build their comb. It forms a protective film on the skin that prevents it from drying out.
    Effective vegan alternatives: carnauba wax or candelilla wax1
  • Cholesterol — derived from animal fats, this lipid occurs naturally in the skin. As a component of the cell membrane, it plays an important role in the regeneration and protection of the skin. It is also an emulsifier.
    Effective vegan alternatives: shea butter and avocado oil2
  • Gelatine — gelling agent obtained from the bones and the skin of animals, i.e. slaughterhouse waste.
    Effective vegan alternative: algae3
  • Glycerin — a moisturizing agent. Animal glycerin is usually made of beef tallow.
    Effective vegan alternative: vegetable glycerin obtained from vegetable oils4
  • Hyaluronic acid — binds moisture in the skin. It was originally made from animal components, mostly cockscombs. However, this production is quite complex.
    Effective vegan alternative: plant-based/synthetic hyaluronic acid made by microbial fermentation5
  • Collagen — anti-aging protein for a firm complexion. Derived from the fat or bones of cattle and pigs.
    Effective vegan alternatives: vegan collagen from yeast and bacteria or combinations of amino acids, antioxidants, and plant extracts6
  • Lanolin — wool wax or fat that sheep secrete to protect their fur from getting wet. In skincare, it is a moisturizing agent.
    Effective vegan alternatives: jojoba oil or shea butter2
  • Squalene — to smooth the skin. Originally obtained from shark liver.
    Effective vegan alternatives: squalane from olives or sugar cane7

FAQ About Effective Vegan Skincare

Is vegan skincare effective?

Yes. Vegan skincare can be as effective.

What is effective vegan skincare?

Effective vegan skincare is science-supported and need-based. It contains essential active ingredients and has no unnecessary additives. Effective vegan skincare products are designed for specific skin problems or skin types. Keeping in mind what is important in each case. As it is with non-vegan skin care.


Reasons not to use animal products in skincare are quite clear. Be it animal welfare, environment, or even health. Thanks to modern processes, the world now has plenty of opportunities to produce active ingredients cruelty-free. Other ingredients can be easily replaced with vegetable oils or extracts. 

Just like non-vegan skincare, vegan skincare can be just as effective. Do not worry — make an informed purchase decision and be aware of what your skin needs. And do it with a clear conscience.

See also: The Complete Guide To Vegan Skincare



  1. Science Direct. Carnauba Wax: An Overview. 2017
  2. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. 2018
  3. Kim JH, Lee JE, Kim KH, Kang NJ. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Mar Drugs. 2018
  4. Medical News Today. What to know about vegetable glycerin. 2021
  5. Carruthers A, Carruthers J. Non-animal-based hyaluronic acid fillers: scientific and technical considerations. 2007
  6. Peng, Y.Y., Howell, L., Stoichevska, V. Towards scalable production of a collagen-like protein from Streptococcus pyogenes for biomedical applications. 2012
  7. Wołosik K, Knaś M, Zalewska A, Niczyporuk M, Przystupa AW. The importance and perspective of plant-based squalene in cosmetology. 2013

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.