If the word “vegan” makes you think of food, you’re not alone. But did you know that some of the skincare and makeup ingredients you use everyday may not be vegan? Luckily, there’s a growing market for those that are (and some of your favorite products might already fit the bill). 

Alongside the clean beauty and cruelty-free movements, interest for vegan beauty is growing. In fact, according to a Grand View report, sales of beauty products labelled “vegan” grew by 38% in the UK in 2018, with global sales expected to reach $20.8 billion by 2025. The report stated that “rapidly changing cosmetic trends are affecting global marketplace, as most consumers find cruelty to animals unethical and are spreading awareness against this act.”

What is vegan beauty?

While many skincare products can look or seem vegan, there are a number of non-vegan ingredients to look out for. This includes, shellac (in nail products), glycerine (derived from animal fats), squalene (extracted from shark liver oil), keratin (often found in hair products), and even animal hair in items like makeup brushes. Put simply, vegan beauty means the absence of these animal ingredients. It’s often grouped in with cruelty-free products (which refers to a product that doesn’t test on animals) but it’s possible for a “vegan” labelled item to have been tested on animals or a cruelty-free product to not be entirely plant-based. If both are important to you, that’s where research comes in. 

Why use vegan products? 


Choosing vegan-only products in any category is not only a personal choice but one that can take time. If you’re vegan and want to ensure your cosmetic routine fits with your lifestyle and beliefs, there’s no need to panic and waste the products you already have. Instead, start by making a vegan choice on your next purchase. For those who don’t follow a plant-based diet but are interested in vegan beauty products, the good news is vegan cosmetics are actually better for your skin (especially if you have sensitive skin). Our skin absorbs up to 60% of the products we apply to it and animal ingredients can be harsh and clog pores. 

How to tell if your product is vegan

Here’s the tricky part. As a number of meat-derived products are undetected with scientific names in ingredient lists, the easiest way to use vegan products is to support vegan businesses. Luckily, some of your favourite brands might already be vegan (like Milk Makeup or Cover FX) and the list is continuously growing. If you already have your routine set, do the research to see if it’s vegan. If not, chances are there’s a vegan alternative ingredient waiting ready. For example, while sharks are a leading source of squalene in the world, they’re not the only optimal source. You can find plant-derived squalane from brands like The Ordinary and Glossier. You might even find your new favorite product on the way. 


Purchasing vegan-only beauty products starts with a little research before it becomes second-nature. While starting may seem tricky, the plant-derived ingredients in many vegan formulas—which can contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—will thank you for it (not to mention animals and the planet too).