In 2023, you can build an effective skincare regimen using only cruelty-free vegan skincare products. I’ve kept my vegan skincare routine simple focusing only on key science-backed active ingredients and clean, well-balanced formulas.
Be it vitamin C, ceramides, or peptides – the best active ingredients in skincare are already vegan-friendly. When coupled with vitamin-rich plant extracts, a vegan skincare routine will be just as good as any other skincare routine. Or even better.
I’ve split my skin vegan skincare routine into two – morning and evening routines. I wash my face twice a day to clean all bacteria and sweat from my skin. I also moisturize my skin twice a day. For AM, I use a lightweight peptide cream and PM, a richer vegan ceramide cream.
I also like to exfoliate my skin dissolve dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores. In the morning, my beauty weapon is a vitamin C serum that protects my skin with antioxidants. In the evening, I apply wrinkle-reducing vegan retinol. I also wear vegan SPF every day year around.
So here is my current vegan skincare routine that really works for my skin. Rest assured, all products below are vegan and cruelty-free, meaning they are free of animal ingredients and not tested on animals.
My Simple Vegan Skincare Routine
I’m 31 years old and I have combination skin. My skincare concerns are basically everything – fine lines, dark spots, dryness as well as blackheads and occasional breakouts in my oily T-zone. Here are the vegan skincare products I use daily to keep my skin clear and hydrated.
For years, I experimented with a mountain of skincare products without realizing that the key is to stick with the same products for a longer period of time. So now that I’ve learned my lesson, here’s vegan skincare I use every single day.
Daytime Vegan Skincare Routine
Here’s our recommended vegan skincare routine for the morning.
- Vegan Cleanser: Youth To The People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
- Vegan Exfoliator: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
- Vegan Serum: Dr. Lara Devgan Vitamin C+B+E Ferulic Serum
- Vegan Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
- Vegan Sunscreen: Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defence SPF 30
My morning vegan skincare routine starts with a vegan cleanser to clear the sweat and bacteria that have accumulated overnight. According to dermatologists, cleansing is important for improving your skin’s appearance, just limit washing your skin to twice a day.
My favorite vegan face wash is the YTTP Superfood Cleanser. Made with spinach, kale, and green tea, it’s so refreshing and gives the skin a good cleanse without harming the moisture barrier. This cleanser has also been great in preventing breakouts and blackheads.
Skincare fact: Plant antioxidants (especially carotenoids, phenols, and vitamin C – all of which leafy greens have an abundance of) are excellent for protecting the skin from photoaging and oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals. They also reduce inflammation.
After cleansing, I usually exfoliate my skin in the morning since I do not want to mix my evening retinol with salicylic acid. Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant is the best. It has managed to unclog my pores, clear up my blackheads, and make my skin much smoother.
Exfoliation is not for everyone but a mild chemical exfoliant should work for most skin types. Just find a weekly schedule that works for you and make sure to moisturize and use SPF after. Some acids such as glycolic acid increase your skin’s sun sensitivity (luckily, salicylic acid does not).
By using this vegan exfoliator around 4 times a week, I haven’t needed to use any additional clarifying treatments or peels. This liquid just gradually melts away dead skin without harming the skin barrier And one bottle of this BHA will last you for months.
Skincare fact: Salicylic acid is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory beta hydroxy acid that promotes exfoliation and through that prevents clogged pores and treats acne. Salicylic acid can also reduce wrinkles and scars. See more BHA skincare here.
No other serum can prepare your skin for the day like a vegan vitamin C serum. Vitamin C has helped lighten my dark spots, evened my skin tone, boosted radiance, and I’ve even seen some difference in wrinkles and fine lines.
Since the bestselling Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum is not suitable for vegans (since the company still tests on animals), I found an amazing vegan dupe from Dr. Lara Devgan. It’s expensive but really worth the money. It visibly fades dark spots and gives a great glow.
Skincare fact: Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants in the skin that prevents and treats signs of photoaging. Ferulic acid helps to stabilize vitamin C (and vitamin E) and increases its photoprotective properties by eightfold. See more vitamin C skincare here.
Protini Moisturizer has been my loyal friend for some time now. It just does what it promises – it moisturizes the skin. It’s scentless, lightweight, and does not compete with other skincare products. Plus, it’s a great way to give your skin a daily dose of peptides.
I think people sometimes expect too much from their vegan moisturizer alone as it’s more about your whole routine. But this cream does give a healthy hydrated look to your skin. I also like their air-sealed packaging which ensures the cream stays fresh.
Should you moisturize your skin at all? You definitely should when your skin feels dry or if you use an exfoliator. Adding a lightweight oil-free moisturizer to your routine has been also shown to improve oily and acne-prone skin.
Skincare fact: Interacting with our skin cells and modulating physiological processes, signal peptides have been shown to reduce signs of aging, moisturize the skin, strengthen the skin barrier, and even reduce acne. See more vegan peptide skincare here.
Wearing vegan sunscreen is the only nonnegotiable step in your vegan skincare routine. My pick is this Dermalogica’s mineral vegan sunscreen. It has a high content of protective zinc oxide yet somehow it does not leave a white ghost mask.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone should wear sunscreen year-round, regardless of skin type or skin tone. The sunscreen should be always broad-spectrum with a minimum of SPF 15.
Sunscreen is a must if you are going to be in the sun for at least 20 minutes to prevent skin cancer and premature signs of aging. Consider wearing sunscreen also indoors if you are going to spend time near a window with direct sunlight.
During hot summer days, I sometimes even skipped my moisturizer and used this sunscreen alone. Along with protecting your skin, it also moisturizes the skin and balances oil with green tea. This sunblock won’t also irritate your skin or clog pores.
Skincare fact: Zinc oxide is an effective sun-protecting agent that reflects the UV rays away from the skin. Similar to chemical sunscreens, zinc oxide also absorbs ultraviolet light and converts it into harmless heat which radiates safely off the skin.
Nighttime Vegan Skincare Routine
Here’s our recommended vegan skincare routine for the evening.
- Vegan Cleanser: Youth To The People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
- Vegan Retinol: Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol + Bakuchiol Treatment
- Vegan Eye Cream: Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream
- Vegan Night Cream: Purito Dermide Cica Barrier Sleeping Pack
My nighttime routine starts again with the Superfood Cleanser. It washes off SPF, makeup, dirt, and pollution really well. With heavier makeup, I sometimes also double-cleanse and use an oil-based vegan cleanser first (such as Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter).
While washing your skin in the morning is negotiable (especially if you have dry skin), night cleansing is highly recommended by experts. Going to bed with your makeup and SPF on hampers the skin’s ability to renew itself at night which can cause premature aging.
Packed with green plant extracts such as green tea, the cleanser is also designed to reset and repair your skin with healthy antioxidants. Just make sure you wash your skin for at least 30 seconds for the cold-pressed antioxidants to activate.
Skincare fact: Rich in polyphenols, green tea is a great skin-balancing and anti-inflammatory ingredient which makes it ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. Green tea also prevents premature signs of aging and UV-induced damage to the DNA.
For a long time, I was afraid to use retinol for the whole purging-peeling-burning phase. This retinol serum from Paula’s Choice did not cause me any of that. It’s a moderate-strength vegan retinol paired with bakuchiol to even boost the impact of retinol.
I can see now how you can really miss out on what topical skincare can do for you if you do not give retinol a shot. This serum has really improved my skin’s elasticity and reduced fine lines. It also has vitamin C and peptides to boost hydration and radiance.
Is retinol safe? Studies show retinol is overall a safe and effective way anti-aging ingredient across all skin types. But according to AAD, you should be careful with retinol with dry or allergy-prone skin. Retinol can also trigger hyperpigmentation for dark skin tones.
Skincare fact: Retinoids such as retinol are one of the most researched skincare ingredients that reduce wrinkles by increasing collagen production, preventing collagen breakdown, and restraining epidermal water loss. Retinols also reduce acne. See more vegan retinols here.
While you can use eye cream twice a day, I prefer using it in the evenings. My current favorite is Biossance’s Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream. Made with algae and vegan squalane, this vegan eye cream hydrates and brightens your eye area overnight.
Do you absolutely need to use eye cream? You really don’t. Eye cream is the only step in my vegan regimen that I could skip. I just really like this particular eye cream to give my eye area a surge of moisture and antioxidants. Plus, it’s such a rich and luxurious vegan product.
Skincare fact: A natural lipid in our skin, our squalene levels decrease from the age of 30 contributing to dryness. When added to moisturizers, squalane (hydrogenated squalene) is an effective emollient to replenish moisture. See more vegan squalane skincare.
And last but not the least, I tuck my skin in with ceramides. I’ve found this vegan ceramide night cream from Purito that really works for my skin. It seals in hydrating and helps repair the skin barrier. It also counteracts the dryness of retinol. Plus, it’s very affordable.
This vegan night cream is also a lifesaver for sensitive and dry skin. It has soothing panthenol, Centella Asiatica (a plant that Korean brands love), and vegan squalane. In the morning, the skin is so soft and ready to hit repeat on your vegan skincare routine. 💚
Skincare fact: Our skin’s natural ceramides play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy skin barrier and locking water into the skin. Topically applied ceramides can mimic our natural moisturizing systems and improve the skin’s hydration. See more vegan ceramide skincare.
What To Look For In A Vegan Skincare Routine
When building a vegan skincare routine, it’s all about knowing your skin type as well as your ABCs of the main active ingredients. Every skin type has ingredients that work best for them. While ceramides are amazing for protecting dry skin, niacinamide can really balance oily skin.
Luckily, almost all the best active ingredients such as niacinamide, peptides, ceramides, vitamin C, vitamin E, AHAs, and BHAs are vegan. So definitely read up on popular skincare ingredients and see which are best for your skin type or concern.
Here is our checklist on what to pay attention to when creating a vegan skincare routine.
- Your skin type: Is your skin dry or oily or is it a combination of both? Or maybe your skin is acne-prone or sensitive? A vegan skincare routine should match your skin type.
- Your age: Our skin starts to lose collagen from the age of 30, so if you are older than that, your routine should also include some anti-aging vegan skincare.
- Your main concern: Everyone has one main skincare concern, be it breakouts, dark spots, or wrinkles. Include a vegan serum in your routine to target that one key issue.
- Active ingredients for you: Your skin type does not always determine how well your skin reacts to a certain ingredient. With trial and error, you will see which ingredients to include in your routine and which to avoid.
- Season and climate: Your vegan skincare routine also depends on where you live. In the colder months, I use a richer moisturizer or even a vegan face oil, in the summer months I cleanse my skin more often. Adjust your routine to what’s going on outside.
Tips For Creating A Vegan Skincare Routine
To help you build a wholesome vegan skincare regimen, here are my main tips that hopefully save you time and money.
- Don’t chase after trends: Be it a jade roller or skin cycling, skincare brands (including vegan ones) will always find a way to sell you more products. While taking care of your skin is important, it does not have to cost a fortune. Be mindful of the passing fads, they’re not usually healthy for your skin or your wallet.
- Stick with the same products: Did you know retinoids can take months to show results? The same goes for many other ingredients. So if the skincare product does not cause straight-up irritation, stick with it for at least a month before making any judgments.
- Small, consistent steps: With skincare, it’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about wearing your SPF every day and washing off your makeup every night. Do not rely on ‘miracle’ products or expensive treatments to make a difference. It’s the small steps.
- More is not more: Do not overburden your skin with a 12-step skincare routine, especially with sensitive or acne-prone skin. You do not necessarily need a toner or an essence. You need some good cleansing, you need moisture, and you need SPF.
- Natural is not always better: With vegan skincare, it’s easy to fall prey to greenwashing with a sea of labels like clean, non-toxic, and natural. Natural in itself is not a benefit. Often lab-made ingredients are purer and more stable. and penetrate the skin better.
- Pay attention to your lifestyle: Your skin health is dependent on so many more factors than skincare. Even as a vegan, you should avoid too salty and sugary foods to keep your skin healthy. Also, make sure to stay hydrated, exercise, and get enough sleep.
We hope you found our guide for a full vegan skincare routine helpful. While you do not need to copy the whole routine, hopefully, some of these vegan products caught your eye. Our goal was to keep the regimen simple, minimal, and effective.
If you would like to build your vegan skincare routine on a budget, see also our guide for affordable vegan skincare. And if natural and organic ingredients are what you value, also check our article with the best organic vegan skincare.
As we keep on exploring the world of cruelty-free vegan skincare, we will let you know if we update this routine with some new exciting skincare products. Stay tuned!
See also: Complete Guide To Vegan Skincare
Update on May 04 (2023): Fact checked and medically reviewed by MD Shimona Garg
Update on February 19 (2023): Added a reference to support advanced routine compared to simple