What Is Vegan Beauty And Why Choose It?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: May 2023.
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As more and more people are giving up animal products, you can see the increase in vegan beauty products on the shelves.  However, veganism is often associated with just food. So what does vegan beauty mean? After all, we do not eat our shampoo or hairspray. The fact is, the term “vegan” means much more than just avoiding animal-derived ingredients on our menu.

In this article, we will talk in more detail about what the vegan lifestyle is, what vegan beauty means, and why people choose it. 

What Does Vegan Mean?

Veganism is a lifestyle choice. It is based on avoiding animal exploitation and unfair treatment. As well as not supporting animal slaughter for the production of food, beauty products, clothing, household items and more. 

Veganism aims to promote the use of plant-based alternatives to improve animal welfare, human health, and the environment.

In nutrition, a vegan or plant-based diet means that a person is not consuming any foods of animal origin. A vegan diet excludes meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, honey, and other animal-derived products like gelatin.

In addition, vegans avoid household chemicals, beauty items, or other products that have been tested on animals or contain animal materials. In addition, vegans do not buy clothes or shoes made of leather or fur. They also avoid silk, sheep’s wool, and beeswax.

People go vegan for plenty of reasons. It often starts with compassion for animals and after a while turns into an ethical conviction. Knowing how resource-demanding and devastating farm animals are to our planet, concern for the environment, and climate warming is also big motivation.

Some people choose veganism because they want to avoid the diseases associated with excessive consumption of meat and dairy products. As well as to partake in the healing effects of whole-plant foods.

What Does Vegan Beauty Mean? 

Vegan beauty means that beauty products are free from animal-derived ingredients. In addition, vegan beauty products are usually not tested on animals or contain ingredients tested on animals.

100% vegan beauty also means that the manufacturer has not hired a third party to test their products on animals. Unfortunately, the term “vegan” is not precisely defined or patented, which is why brands sometimes only refer to ingredients when talking about vegan beauty.

A more comprehensive vegan definition, however, means no animal exploitation at all, including refraining from animal testing. So, in order for beauty products to be 100% vegan, they should not be tested on animals

Further, just because products are vegan does not automatically mean that they are also sustainable, natural, or organic. Natural cosmetics and beauty products are defined by “natural” raw materials. It excludes harmful ingredients such as parabens, silicones, and fragrances and dispenses with genetic engineering and animal testing. 

So natural, organic, or clean beauty products — similar to cruelty-free products — can sometimes still contain animal components such as milk, honey, and others. Thus: cruelty-free, natural, or clean beauty does not always mean vegan. 

And in the other hand, vegan beauty can contain ingredients obtained from non-organic sources and synthetic chemicals. By definition, vegan beauty products could even contain toxic components if they are not animal-derived and not tested on animals. So when we are talking about clean beauty vs vegan beauty, both could have their pros and cons. 

However, sustainable vegan beauty brands are usually conscious and produce clean, non-toxic, and sometimes even organic products. So, clean beauty and vegan beauty often go hand in hand. 

Today, for beauty products to be effective, manufacturers do not have to use animal ingredients anymore. Plant-based alternatives or synthetic active ingredients meet the requirements and are already very popular in the beauty industry. So, clean vegan beauty products are the best choice to make here.

Common Animal-Derived Beauty Product Ingredients

Vegan Beauty Products

Here are some well-known examples of animal-based ingredients in beauty products and their vegan alternatives.

  • Carmine – red dye made from crushed female insects (cochineal). Carmine, for instance, can be found in lipsticks, eye shadow, or nail polish
    Alternative  –  beetroot, orange, annatto, or paprika powder
  • Collagen – structural protein of the connective tissue, obtained from slaughterhouse waste. It is used in anti-aging products, such as anti-aging skincare or foundation for mature skin
    Alternative – genetically engineered vegan collagen
  • Beeswax – the secretion of the bees’ wax glands. It is the material from which bees build honeycombs. You can usually find beeswax from lipsticks and skincare products
    Alternative – soy wax
  • Elastin – a protein mainly from neck tendons or aortas of cattle. In an animal, elastin is responsible for the ability of vessels to expand. Elastin is found in firming creams or foundation
    Alternative – vegetable proteins
  • Shellac – a resin secreted by the lac bug (kerria lacca), which lives on various types of fig trees in India and Thailand. You can usually find shellac in hairspray and nail polish.
    Alternative – carnauba wax, zein (corn protein).

Beauty products have more animal-derived components in them than we think. In addition to the fact that these ingredients are not animal friendly, their origin or production does not paint a pleasant picture in our heads. That is why we recommend vegan beauty products, whether you are vegan or not.

Why Choose Vegan Beauty Products?

Vegan beauty is a good choice mainly because this way you won’t contribute to animal suffering. But in addition, you would avoid creepy animal-based ingredients near your skin and body. Choosing vegan beauty also supports the environment.

Vegan beauty drastically reduces the exploitation of animals. Vegan beauty brands promote animal welfare with new alternatives for consumers. Firstly, animal testings are brutal and totally unnecessary. With vegan beauty products, you can be sure that our furry friends have not been part of the testing process. 

Further, by buying non-vegan beauty products, you support animal suffering. Farm animals live under catastrophic conditions. However, with vegan beauty, you would no further support these practices.

Choosing vegan beauty products also means no sketchy animal-derived ingredients on the body or near the skin. Bone powder, slaughterhouse waste, crushed bugs, etc., are very common in everyday beauty products. 

Vegan beauty can be better and more effective for your body. However, this is not always the case. In order to find effective and healthy vegan beauty products, go with conscious vegan brands or clean vegan beauty products. Luckily, we live in a century where we have a lot of good vegan beauty brands to choose from.

Small things can also make a big difference. Factory farming drives pollution with greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change. With vegan beauty, you could invest in environmental protection in your own little way. 

Look out for vegan beauty labels to tell whether a product is vegan. The best ones are the certified vegan markings as they are controlled. However, a lot of producers also create their own independent vegan labels to make vegan beauty shopping easier. 

FAQ About Vegan Beauty

What does vegan beauty mean?

Vegan beauty means that beauty products are free from animal-derived ingredients. In addition, vegan beauty products are usually not tested on animals or contain ingredients tested on animals.

What do vegan beauty products mean?

Vegan beauty products are products free from animal-derived ingredients. In addition, most vegan beauty products are not tested on animals or contain ingredients tested on animals.

Is vegan beauty better than clean beauty?

When talking about clean beauty vs vegan beauty, both could have their pros and cons. By definition, vegan beauty products could contain toxic components if they are not animal-derived and not tested on animals. Clean beauty, however, could contain sketchy animal-derived components. So, when possible, choose beauty products that are both, clean and vegan.


Vegan beauty focuses on causing as little suffering to animals as possible. This means that all vegan beauty products, such as hair sprays, vegan skincare, vegan perfumes, vegan shampoos, vegan make-up, vegan deodorants, vegan hair dyes, or even vegan nail polishes, are free of animal-derived ingredients. In addition, they have not been tested on animals.

One thing is for sure – vegan beauty is here to stay. And nowadays countless manufacturers have specialized in offering a selection of vegan beauty products. People are getting more conscious and their choices with them. 

See also: Best Vegan Beauty Brands

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.