Veganuary: It’s Not Just What You Eat

We’ve made it to 2020 and January is the time to try something new. New Year’s resolutions are made for a variety of reasons and a popular choice for many Brit’s is giving Veganuary a try. Giving a vegan diet a go can be for health reasons, animal welfare, environmental benefits or simply challenging yourself with a new lifestyle.

Choosing a vegan life, even if just for a month, means cutting out all animal products, including fashion such as swapping a choice of new leather boots for a vegan alternative, to cosmetics, such as swapping mink false eyelashes to a synthetic alternative such as these.

In 2019, more than a quarter of a million people took on the Veganuary challenge and even more are expected to do so this year. While supermarkets and restaurants are launching new products to help novice vegans make easier choices, many consumers may not realise that a vegan lifestyle is more than just what you eat.

A recent study by Flawless Lashes by Loreta revealed the full extent of how ignorant the British public are when it comes to animal products within the cosmetic industry.

A shocking 36% of vegetarians admitted they were completely unaware animal by-products were used within makeup. While many vegan makeup products declare they are suitable for vegans, those that aren’t are not required to declare so on their packaging.

When it comes to food, the public is easily able to identify if animal products are within the ingredients due to transparent listing now required by law. However, the cosmetic industry are able to avoid this by still being allowed to use scientific names, most of which do not resemble what they are actually made from.

It is important not just for permanent vegetarians and vegans, but also those giving it a go this January that they are informed of these before they fall at the first hurdle and continue to purchase animal-based products.

Below is a list of common animal by-products used in make-up to help you this Veganuary:

  • Carmine – a natural dye used to create a vibrant red, commonly used in lipsticks, blushes and nail polishes. Carmine is made from crushing thousands of tiny beetles called cochineals. It is also listed as natural red 4, E120 and C.I 75470
  • Shellac – if you love getting your nails done, it is very likely you have heard of this ingredient. Famous for creating shine and strength in your manicure. Shellac gets its properties from the shell of lac bugs.
  • Lanolin – made from sheep’s wool and fat and often used in lip balms, sticks and glosses. There is a plant-based alternative of the same name but companies do not always declare which ones they are using.
  • Guanine – this is made from scraping fish scales to achieve shimmer in eyeshadows and highlighter.
  • Tallow – also known as oleic acid, oleyl sterate, and oleyl oleate. This is made of animal fat, most often taken from farmyard animals but this can vary in different countries. This can be found in many cosmetics, including nail polish, soap, foundation and eye makeup.
  • Cera Alba – you probably know this as its common name of beeswax, it is used to prevent oil from separating and helps your skin absorb moisture. It is used within lip balms, lipsticks, soaps and moisturisers.
  • Keratin – any shopper concerned with keeping their hair healthy is highly likely to have heard of keratin, but do you know that it comes from the hooves and hair of various animals? Most frequently used in shampoos and conditioners but can also be found in nail strengthening products.
  • Carbamide – also listed as urea and not something you want on your body. This is animal urine, this can be found in almost all makeup products along with deodorant, facial cleansers and lotions.
  • Collagen – anyone concerned about their inevitable ageing will most likely have heard of this. Collagen is an anti-ageing element for facial creams but is also found in hair cair products. This is made from animal skin, bones, tendons and ligaments.
  • Estrogen – a very common element in perfumes. This is obtained from the urine of pregnant horses to achieve a hormone-based ingredient. It is also listed as estradiol.
  • Lactoferrin – this is the iron-binding protein in milk and is often found in shampoo and conditioner. Other dairy-based products are lactose and hydrolyzed milk protein.

However, animal products are not limited to the above list, when in doubt, look for The Vegan Society logo that resembles two small leaves. This is not to be confused with the jumping rabbit logo for cruelty-free items. Although cruelty-free is certainly a great movement for animal welfare, this simply means these products were not tested on animal and can still contain animal products.

We are all under increasing pressure to reduce our carbon footprint and manufacturers are no exception. The rearing of livestock is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions and contribute to the consumption of large amounts of natural resources.

Studies have shown that to produce 1 pound of beef requires an extortionate 2,400 gallons of water. Food and fashion industries are beginning to bow to this pressure due to so much media coverage and public backlash, however, the cosmetic industry is yet to be thrown into the spotlight.

With so many plant-based alternatives available to replace these animal ingredients, there is little reason as to why makeup brands should not be making the switch and eliminating the use of these animal-based versions.

So if you are giving Veganuary a go, are already an avoider of animal products or are simply trying to cut down, next time you visit your local beauty store keep an eye out for these ingredients and you may be shocked at how often you come across them.


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