How to know if products are vegan or not?
You made the decision of looking into vegan alternatives for your favourite beauty products. Great! But… where to start? How do you know if a product is vegan or not? And what else do you need to/want to consider? Is your desired product also cruelty free? Because these two don’t always go hand in hand unfortunately. Well my friend, this is where a little research comes into play.
Begin at the beginning
One of my favourite quotes from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is “Begin at the Beginning“. And it is so applicable here. In this case, it means looking for a vegan logo on the packaging of the product you’re interested in.
Some examples of vegan and cruelty-free quality marks are:
A product can obtain the Vegan logo by the Vegan Society if they comply with the following requirements:
- The product does not contain ingredients derived from animals
- The product has not been tested on animals
- In case it involves genetically modified organisms (producing or developing), no animal genes or substances of animals were used in the process
- If the product happens to be food/edible, it should’ve been prepared separately from non-vegan food.
A product can obtain the V-logo by the European Vegetarian Union if they disclose all the ingredients in their product, as well as provide access to their manufacturing plants. If the ingredients of the product change, they should provide an update to the European Vegetarian Union as well.
It can be expensive for an organisation to get certified however – so sometimes they just mention on their packaging that the product is vegan. However, this doesn’t mean that they are then fully compliant with the strict requirements that are mandatory in order to be allowed to use the logo – so be careful with this.
Vegan No-No Ingredients 101
You now know which labels confirm if a product is vegan. But, as mentioned earlier, some organisations choose to not certify their products because of the additional costs that come with it. This where you will need to know (at least in the base) which ingredients are considered as no-no ingredients, as you will need to start looking at the ingredient list. Now, I’m no expert on this, but following are some of the well-known ones:
- Biotin: A vitamin of the B complex, found in yeast, liver and egg yolk. Can be used in the formulation of hair conditioners, grooming aids, shampoos and moisturizing agents.
- Carmine: A pigment produced by drying, crushing and then boiling the bodies of cochineal beetles.
- Castoreum: A substance collected from the glands of Canadian, European and Siberian beavers. Can be used as a fragrance or fixative in cosmetics and soaps, or as a natural flavouring ingredient in food (a substitute vanilla flavour).
- Cera Alba: A natural wax produced by bees, often used in skin care products and cosmetics.
- Elastin: A fibrous protein found in the connective tissue of animals. Can be used as a hair or skin conditioning agent.
- Lactose: A disaccharide (double sugar) derived from galactose and glucose that is found in milk. It is used as a skin conditioning agent in personal care products and cosmetics.
- Lanolin: Also known as wool wax or wool fat. An ointment-like material isolated from wool that is sheared from sheep. Used in baby products, skin care and cosmetics.
- Gelatin: Aprotein procured by boiling animal skin, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and/or bones in water, which can be found in shampoos, face masks, cosmetics, and several food categories (candy, yoghurt, vitamins, wine or beer).
Where can I find information on this?
Some manufactures actually include on their websites a complete list of their vegan products. PETA (although sometimes somewhat extreme) has a lot of good information on their website (https://www.peta.org). Some blogs that I found really nice and informative were:
- LIVEKINDLY (https://www.livekindly.co)
- Ethical Elephant (https://ethicalelephant.com)
- Cruelty-free Kitty (https://www.crueltyfreekitty.com)
And otherwise I just recommend to Google. A lot.
In addition, after having done a lot of research, I started a Pinterest account, to keep an overview of the vegan (beauty) products that I found. You can find it here, with the following boards:
Fin – for now
So what do you think of all this? Do you have a different approach to finding out if products are vegan or not? Let me know, by replying in the comment section!