Vegetarian Vs Vegan Skincare

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: May 2023.
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You might find many different item-descriptive labels on the packaging of skincare. Two of them are definitely ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’. The first syllable of these words is similar but they have a different definition behind them.

We have explained these two concepts separately to understand how they differ. Let’s take a look.

The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian Skincare

The difference between vegan and vegetarian skincare is easily explained. Vegan skincare doesn’t contain ingredients from animal origin, while vegetarian skincare can contain ingredients derived from animals, such as honey, beeswax, and milk.

Veganism excludes animals from human use. The aim of veganism is to end unfair treatment and the killing of animals. So vegans refrain from using animals for food, clothing, cosmetics, skincare, entertainment. Or for any other purposes. Thus, vegan skincare does not contain any ingredients of animal origin.

We can easily differentiate vegan and vegetarian skincare as we do with diets:

Vegetarians avoid meat, chicken, and fish. But they sometimes eat animal-produced foods such as eggs, milk, and honey. Vegans avoid all products of animal origin. Vegans do not eat eggs, honey, or drink milk. They do not buy clothes made with fur, wool, silk, or leather. 

While vegan skincare doesn’t used any animal based ingredients, vegetarian skincare sometimes does. The most popular ingredients in vegetarian skincare products are beeswax, milk, and honey. But, vegetarian skincare does not include ingredients that require the killing of an animal (such as gelatin, keratin or collagen).

Read also: What is vegan skincare? Animal-derived skincare ingredients

Is Vegan Skincare Better Than Vegetarian Skincare?

Yes. Vegan skincare is better than vegetarian skincare. It is free from all animal-derived components including beeswax, honey, and milk. This means no animals have suffered at all to make the product.

Both vegetarian skincare and vegan skincare prevent much of an animal’s suffering. Yet, it is important to note that vegetarian skincare still contains animal-produced components, such as milk by-products. And this is not completely animal-friendly.

In order to obtain milk and other animal produce, animals are often kept in appalling and extreme conditions. Animals grow side by side in cramped spaces and tolerate daily exploitation.

In addition to inhumane conditions, the animal industry is contributing to global warming. So by choosing vegan skincare, we can be 100% animal-friendly, and support a more sustainable world.

When it comes to the effectiveness of these two different types of skincare, vegan skincare appears to be safer, too.

There is no scientific explanation for the link between animal products and acne. Still, dermatologists often recommend avoiding milk and beeswax as they might cause pimples.

Read also: Is vegan skincare better for your skin?

FAQ About Vegetarian And Vegan Skincare

Is vegan skincare better than vegetarian skincare?

Yes. Vegan skincare is better than vegetarian skincare. It is free of all animal-derived products. This means minimal animal suffering. In addition, when it comes to the effectiveness, vegan skincare appears to be safer and better for your skin, too.

What is the difference between vegetarian and vegan skincare?

The difference between vegan and vegetarian skincare lies behind the definitions. Vegans avoid everything of animal origin. Vegetarians make exceptions for some ingredients produced by animals. For example, honey, beeswax, and milk.


Although the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ look very similar on paper, they do differ to some extent. In any case, vegan skincare is a more sustainable, ethical, and safer choice.

If you are already making changes in your skincare, we recommend going all in and going vegan.

To be sure what values you support, do some research and choose vegan products when possible. That way you contribute to animal welfare and do good for the environment.

See also: 100% Vegan Skincare BrandsVegan Skincare Ingredients

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.