They seem to be everywhere. Taking over restaurants. Instagram’s filled with their kale cluttered foodie pics. If you aren’t one, you’ll know one. And one industry they’ve finally got wrapped around their green fingers is the beauty industry. I’m talking about vegans. Their skincare and beauty products have swiftly become a must, with the number of vegans in the UK more than tripling in the last year.
Many pillars of the beauty community refuse to purchase a product, or even from a brand at all, if they are not vegan or cruelty free. It has been five years since the ban on animal testing for cosmetic products in the EU. Vegans are still demanding ethical changes from an industry that’s infamous for its disregard for animal rights and sustainable ingredients, such as fish scales used to make nail polish, crushed beetles in lipsticks and whale vomit in perfume!
Vegan, cruelty free, natural, and organic cosmetics remove any animal related products and ensure that their cosmetics are made without testing on animals. So, they’re better for the environment and the animals, but are they any better for our skin?
Twenty-two-year-old Haley Lassiter, known as @SkincareJesus on Instagram, is training to be a Aesthetician Nurse, a role that involves examining skin and skincare products. So, she’s someone who knows her stuff when it comes to skincare. Haley believes that vegan, natural or organic skincare products are no better for our skin and that they offer no unique benefits in comparison to any non-vegan product. She explains that in the beauty industry terms like:
“Organic and natural have no standard requirements to meet in order to be qualified as such. There are a lot of grey areas for customers. People may buy a natural product with an expectation in mind, but have that expectation not met.”
Haley says that although there are good vegan skincare products out there, she would not go out of her way to recommend ones that are vegan:
“I certainly think that the customer demand within the beauty industry is shifting towards natural and vegan beauty products. I don’t think that this is necessarily wise, but I understand customers feelings, and reasoning behind it”.
There is the general assumption that natural, vegan products will be much gentler to our skin than non-vegan products, however, Haley warns of the harm vegan products can cause to our skin. “Nearly all harmful skin care ingredients are vegan; for example: alcohols, baking soda, and walnut shells”.
The cult vegan beauty product St Ives Scrub, praised by the likes of model Gigi Hadid, has recently been sued by two women in the United States. Kaylee Browning and Sarah Basile are suing Unilever, the company that makes the product, for five million dollars. They state that it is ‘’Unfit to be sold or used as a facial scrub’’. The product contains hard pieces of walnut-shell with sharp, jagged edges that you’re unable to see as it’s too small. This can tear your skin on a microscopic level, causing mini wounds for bacteria to get in to the skin and can lead to acne, or even infection.
Jules Derrick is a fun-loving entrepreneur and a massive fan of vegan cosmetics. She started her own vegan cosmetics brand Outside The Box Makeup and Skincare, which is available now in Country Finest, back in June 2015 after suffering severe skin irritations and breakouts from popular, expensive (non-vegan) make-up brands. Jules now takes a “holistic approach” to cosmetics. The first ingredient in her mineral makeup is “empathy” and last ingredient is “naturalness”. She says:
“My products are kind and gentle to humans and I wanted to ensure no animal products would be used in them too. I am 100% against testing on animals which I understand a lot of the big brands still do. All my products are naturally derived, it was just naturally important to be vegan from the start”.
Consumers are becoming a lot more aware of what they put in and on their body. The demand for organic and natural cosmetics has grown and now half the population actively looks for these kinds of products.
A survey of over 100 people found that 43% of people believe that if a cosmetic is described as vegan, natural or organic then it is better for your skin than products that aren’t. One individual said that vegan products make them feel like the product is “Healthier for the skin; less likely to create skin problems or irritation and improve skin quality”. Which can be true for some vegan cosmetics, but, perhaps we should not assume all vegan skincare will be as kind to our skin as it is the environment.
Veganism, bringing with it all kinds of natural and organic beauty products, is making a positive impact on the world by preventing the needless abuse of animals. Taking on the beauty industry is a big feat and, thanks to the modern-day vegan putting their foot and their make-up brush down, more and more brands are changing their ways. However, despite the tremendous progress that veganism is having towards the environment and animal rights, should we just assume all vegan cosmetics will automatically kinder to our skin?