Vegan VS Clean Beauty: Are They The Same?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: May 2023.
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Vegan beauty is often paralleled with many different terms, including clean beauty. However, they are not always the same. Nevertheless, that does not mean they can never be associated.

It is safe to say that in recent years, all of us have noticed the ever-growing clean beauty movement. And we are now used to seeing many terms that could be related to clean cosmetics. And of course, one of them is vegan beauty. So let’s see how they are different and how they are similar.

What Is Clean Beauty?

Clean beauty usually means that beauty products decorated with this term are mostly made with natural ingredients or other active ingredients that are not declared toxic.

Firstly, clean beauty has no universal definition in the cosmetics industry. So each brand defines its own standards and each country has different requirements. Basically, since the term is not protected, each manufacturer can use “clean beauty” how they want.

But when people talk about clean beauty, the safety of the products and the reduction of unnecessary substances are mentioned the most. In addition, we can see keywords like transparency, environmental friendliness, and customer education.

Therefore, clean beauty is often associated with “natural beauty“. However, they are actually different categories. Clean beauty relies more on minimalism, which means using as few ingredients as possible, including both natural and non-natural ingredients.

Are natural cosmetics better because they do not contain synthetic substances? No, because everything that is natural is not automatically good. Not all natural ingredients are sustainable, tolerable, and safe. And not every synthetic substance is harmful. Or vice versa.

Nowadays, the natural ingredient list is no longer enough for many people. Awareness grows and effectiveness is now a big thing. So, a modern product must be effective and give quick and visible results. Customers expect the ingredients to be high-tech, biotechnological, and with different molecular weights.

These include, for instance, acids, vitamins, peptides, and antioxidants. Therefore, many clean beauty manufacturers still continue to use synthetic ingredients as long as they are excellent and safe for people and the environment.

Similar to natural beauty, however, clean beauty products should not contain any toxic chemicals or beauty ingredients. But it is important to remind ourselves that our bodies are made up of chemicals. Even water is a chemical. So, clean beauty is not refraining from all chemicals. Only toxic and unhealthy ones. Such as parabens, for example.

Is Vegan Considered Clean Beauty?

In short, no. Vegan beauty does not automatically mean clean beauty. But vegan beauty could sometimes be clean and clean beauty could sometimes be vegan. But you cannot simply draw an equal sign between these two terms.

Vegan beauty refers to the fact that no animals are harmed during its production. A narrower definition of vegan beauty says that vegan beauty does not contain any animal ingredients. And a lot of retailers still use a limited vegan definition. For example, Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon.

Their “vegan” refers to ingredients, leaving out the aspect of animal testing. A more comprehensive vegan definition, however, means no animal exploitation at all, including refraining from animal testing.

However, both clean beauty and vegan beauty concern the composition of the products. Nevertheless, clean beauty does not mean that it never has animal components in its ingredient list. That is because some animal-derived ingredients are often considered clean in the cosmetics industry. For instance, animal glycerin, lanolin, beeswax, or collagen.

In addition, vegan beauty is not always clean beauty. As said, vegan by its definition implies that the product is free from animal ingredients. So, vegan beauty may still contain “non-clean” components but which are still animal free.

So, clean beauty does not have to be vegan. Just as both of them do not have to be natural. However, this does not rule out that vegan beauty should never be clean. Or vice versa. Both categories can fit into each other by their definitions. And it happens more than less.

However, if we put clean beauty vs vegan beauty on the line and ask which one is better, ethically we would say vegan beauty. However — the best option is always clean & vegan beauty! And actually, it is not that difficult to find at all.

Today’s vegan beauty brands are very conscious. This means that their ingredient lists are often based on effective active ingredients supported by science and the composition is as pure and clean as possible. 

FAQ About Clean Beauty VS Vegan Beauty

Is clean beauty also vegan beauty?

Clean beauty is not necessarily vegan beauty. That is because some animal-derived ingredients are often considered “clean” in the cosmetics industry. For instance, animal glycerin, lanolin, beeswax, or collagen which are animal-based and not vegan.

Is vegan considered clean beauty?

Vegan beauty is not necessarily clean beauty. Vegan by its definition implies that the product is in no way related to the exploitation of animals. So. it may still contain “non-clean” components which are animal free.

Is vegan beauty better than clean beauty?

Vegan beauty is always better for animals and the planet. However, for the skin’s health, the best option is clean vegan beauty, which represents both worlds. Plus, today’s vegan beauty brands are very conscious and are often clean by default.


Clean beauty keeps in mind the overall well-being of the skin health. Clean beauty products are made with no suspected or proven toxic ingredients. However, clean beauty does not necessarily always mean all-natural. 

So, clean beauty can include synthetic ingredients that fall into the “clean list of ingredients”. For example, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, or retinol. 

In addition, clean beauty is not always vegan. Therefore, vegan beauty and clean beauty cannot be labeled as one. Vegan beauty mostly refers to animal-free composition. But as some animal-derived components are considered clean, clean beauty is not always vegan.

However, conscious vegan beauty brands are usually clean by default. That is why it is not surprising that vegan beauty is often associated with a clean one. And we believe that purchasing beauty products that represent both is the best way to go. For the animals, the planet, and yourself.

See also: The Complete Guide To Vegan Skincare, The Best Vegan Skincare Brands, The Best Vegan Skincare Products

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.