Vegan skincare 101

The vegan movement has been growing rapidly over the last few years, and this has affected a number of industries including beauty. 

But what ingredients stop our beauty products from being vegan? And what animal derivatives are still commonly used in our products?

Here is a list of some common non-vegan ingredients to look out for in your ingredients lists:


CARMINE – this is a pink pigment derived from beetle shells. It has been used for centuries to create pink shades of lipstick and blush, and we’ve not yet managed to recreate this exact shade in any other way. There are however other red colourants which can be blended to create similar shades, which is what the vegan make-up brands will be using. 

LANOLIN – this is basically sheep sebum – the oily substance which coats their wool to make it waterproof. Often used in lip balms, nipple creams and other thick, occlusive, balmy formulas.

COLLAGEN – the most common source of collagen used to be from pigs, but now in the EU it is more commonly derived from fish scales. Right now, collagen is only available from animal sources and we have not managed to create this amazing natural substance synthetically. 

BEESWAX – common in lip balms, lipsticks, cleansing balms and anything which melts on contact with the skin. Used to give structure to a solid wax, and to manipulate the melting point of a formulation to turn liquid at the temperature of the skin. 

LACTOSE – this milk sugar is often derived from animal milk proteins and is used as a skin conditioning agent in skincare. It is fairly easy to substitute so there are a lot of other great skin conditioning ingredients out there.

KERATIN – often found in hair care products, due to its claim to support the natural keratin found in hair, this is a protein usually derived from animal tissue. 

SILK PROTEINS - these are processed from silkworm cocoons and used in cosmetics due to their moisturising properties.


This is by no means a complete list, but in my experience these are some of those most commonly still used today. The good news is that the industry is taking heed of this consumer demand and raw material suppliers are continually investing in research to find alternatives to these ingredients. 

Examples of this are SQUALANE, a sebum-mimicking oil, now most commonly derived from olives, but used to be known as SQUALENE and was sourced from shark liver. Another success story is glycerine, which is found in almost every water-containing cosmetic product out there due to its fantastic hydrating abilities and low cost. Glycerine use to be sourced from animals, but is now processed from plant sources, so most cosmetic brands in the EU at leasthave moved over to a non-animal source for this. 

We hope this has been of some help. If you are looking to go vegan on your skincare routine, but not sure where to start, we allow you to specify this as part of our free online assessment . Just complete the 2 minute form and we will create a bespoke routine based on your requirements.