What Is Vegan Skincare And Why Choose It?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: December 2022.
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When it comes to a vegan lifestyle, many people think of food first. But it also applies to clothing and household, as well as cosmetics and skincare.

Surprisingly, a lot of brands still use animal-derived ingredients in their skincare business. Usually, they hide behind fancy names that do not state their origin. So, let’s take a closer look at what vegan skincare actually is.

What Does Vegan Skincare Mean? What Makes Skincare Vegan?

Vegan skincare is free from animal-derived components. These are animal-based glycerin, animal squalene, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, and others. Vegan skincare is also not tested on animals.

You may find animal ingredients from soap bars and moisturizers to serums and face masks.

All the common ingredients used in skincare can be replaced. For example, instead of beeswax, vegan brands use plant waxes such as soy wax. Instead of animal-based emollients, they use different plant oils.

Some ingredients in skincare can also be both vegan and non-vegan. These include glycerin, stearic acid, squalene, or hyaluronic acid.

We have put together the most common animal-derived skincare ingredients. That way, you can stay informed and, if necessary, double-check from there. But some of these can also be vegan.

Does Vegan Also Mean Cruelty-Free?

Cruelty-free means that the product has not been tested on animals. Vegan means that the product does not contain any animal ingredients and also has not been tested on animals.

The vegan lifestyle does not support any exploitation of animals. However, you may find skincare products marked cruelty-free that still contain animal components.

Although it sounds somewhat illogical, cruelty-free products are not necessarily vegan. Vegan products on the other hand are cruelty-free. So, it is important to pay attention and know the meanings of different labels.

Animal testing is banned in the European Union and several other places in the world. But for example, USA or China has no nationwide ban on animal testing yet.

It is important to mention that a lot of retailers still use a limited vegan definition. 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.

Why Choose Vegan Skincare?

The main reasons many choose vegan skincare are because of animal welfare, environmental concerns and cleaner ingredients.

Farm animals live under catastrophic conditions. By choosing vegan skincare and cosmetics, people no further support these practices.

Also, with vegan products, you are not supporting laboratories that perform animal experiments. In fact, most people in the world do not support animal testing.

Another aspect that leads people to make such choices is environmental protection. Factory farming drives the pollution with greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change.

Vegan skincare is also more likely made with cleaner and less-processed ingredients. These are better for your skin and health.

By preferring vegan products, people are making a conscious decision in every way. And taking these steps in skincare makes sense even if you still prefer honey in your tea.

Does Vegan Skincare Work?

Yes. Vegan skincare does work. Some think, favoring animal-friendly beauty means compromising on quality. This is not true.

A vegan product can be cleaner and better for your body since it has no irritating or pore-clogging ingredients. Although it has not been confirmed by science, many dermatologists find links between animal ingredients and acne.

Vegan brands often have a mindset to prefer cleaner ingredients. Which also leads to organic, clean, and natural products. So, vegan skincare is likely less processed and more gentle and nourishing for the body.

The new age products are made consciously with commitment. Since vegan products are relatively new, they are often made without any harsh chemicals found in various other products.

However, when it comes to active ingredients (hyaluronic acid, squalene, etc), a vegan ingredient is not necessarily better than a non-vegan ingredient. Because the effect remains the same.

But in addition to a cleaner, healthier, and less processed ingredient list, vegan skincare has one more added value. An ethical and kinder choice.

Thanks to modern technologies, we have now opportunities to produce ingredients in a vegan way. No animal abuse involved. Some components can also be easily replaced with vegetable oils or extracts. With a good conscience, you won’t miss a thing.

Vegan brands are usually more compassionate about every other aspect of production, too. Raw produce is likely fair trade and ethically sourced. Packaging made from recycled or compostable materials. And their employees well paid and treated.

How To Find Vegan Skincare?

Finding vegan skincare is quite easy. No matter the price range. The easiest way for a beginner is to look for internationally recognized labels. Or the terms ‘100% vegan’ and ‘vegan-friendly’.

An internationally recognized and familiar to many is the Vegan Society mark. Unfortunately, companies have to pay money for the use of bigger labels. So, smaller manufacturers have given up using them.

However, this does not mean that the product cannot be animal friendly. Many companies design their own unambiguous vegan signs.

Of course, you can always read the list of ingredients. Or do your previous research online for cruelty-free products. To make the choice easier, we have also put together the best vegan skincare brands to start with.

You can find vegan skincare for every type of skin. Be it dry or oily, mature, or acne-prone. Vegan cleansers and moisturizers pack your skin with all the nutrients it needs.

FAQ About Vegan Skincare

What is vegan skincare?

Vegan skincare is skincare made with non-animal ingredients. Vegan skincare should also never be tested on animals.

Why choose vegan skincare?

By choosing vegan skincare, you are contributing to animal welfare and environmental protection. Vegan skincare is also most likely more natural and better for your skin and body.

Is vegan skincare any good?

Yes, vegan skincare is good. In addition to ethical aspects, vegan brands often have a health-conscious mindset. This leads to organic, pure, and natural yet effective products which are better for your skin.

Is vegan skincare cruelty-free?

Yes, vegan skincare should be cruelty-free. Yet, cruelty-free skincare might not always be vegan. ‘Cruelty-free’ only refers to animal testing. It is also important to mention that a lot of retailers still use a limited vegan definition. 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.

What makes skincare vegan?

Skincare is vegan when it includes no animal-derived ingredients or ingredients tested on animals.


Made with non-animal ingredients, vegan skincare is rising on the charts. Due to continuous product development, vegan skincare gets better in quality. And this is also better for our skin.

Not only that. Using vegan skincare helps us be better for the environment, for animals, and our health.

People’s actions and decisions have a lot of power. With our purchasing decisions, we can support vegan brands or boycott cruel companies. This way we can help build a better and more animal-friendly future.

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.