Are Your Cosmetics Vegan?

Many times companies will label their product “cruelty free” but may still use animal-based ingredients. Although the term “cruelty-free” does prohibit the use of animal testing, it still allows the company to use animal ingredients, which are far from cruelty-free.

Is your makeup brush made with goat hair or synthetic bristles?

Does your eye shadow have fish scales or mineral mica?

There are many alternatives to cosmetics that use animal products, and many conscious companies are providing not only vegan lines, but organic and environmentally friendly choices as well. Taking all these options into account is important when looking for companies you feel good about supporting, as well as choosing the best products to use on your skin.

Searching out and purchasing healthy and conscious cosmetics can make a world of difference. When you support animal-free and eco-friendly, you are, whether you realize it or not, sending a message to companies about what you expect on the market.

When it comes to cosmetics, plant-based and mineral-based ingredients are superior alternatives to those in animal-infused cosmetics. Inherent in these ingredients are beneficial properties that can heal, soothe and be gentle on the skin. Many plants have been used for centuries to heal ailments and skin issues, including tea tree to cleanse, chamomile to soothe and calm, and olive oil to moisturize. Minerals have been used to treat skin conditions and some, like zinc oxide, are used to actually protect the skin from sunburn. Mineral makeup is also preservative- and pesticide-free.

What do vegan and environmentally friendly cosmetics look like?

Their company is transparent. You can easily find the ingredient list and they set a mission statement that clearly defines their initiatives for marketing healthy products without the use of any animals.

They use minerals and plant based ingredients. Look at the full ingredient list to see what is in your cosmetics. Oils, nut butters, herbs and plant ingredients are a must. Certified organic ingredients are also important.

Friendly and open to answering questions. If you are not sure if a company is vegan, contact them. Do they give you a direct and simple answer? “Yes, we are 100% vegan!” If not, I would suggest trying a different company.


Do you have animal ingredients in your cosmetics?

Following is a list of a few common non-vegan ingredients that could be in your cosmetics. If you see other ingredients listed that you are not sure about, it should be easy to find out whether they’re vegan with a simple Google search.

  • Beeswax (aka cera alba, cera lava)

    This is the wax from a bee’s hive. Bees must consume six or more pounds of honey in order to create one pound of wax. It is created by either being secreted by worker honeybees from four pairs of glands on the underside of their abdomens, or by secreting droplets of wax called “scales.” It can be found in many forms of makeup, from eye shadow to foundation to lipstick.

  • Carmine (aka cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, E120, carminic acid)

    This deep red color is taken from crushed cochineal insects. The color is extracted from the insect’s body and eggs. It is a very common colorant in lipsticks and blushes.

  • Collagen

    This is a protein that is naturally produced in the bodies of animals. In order to extract the protein, collagen is taken from dead animals by cooking cartilaginous animal materials, such as bones, connective tissues and skin. Collagen is typically used because of its temporary plumping or firming effect and can be found in lotions, creams or lip sticks.

  • Guanine (aka CI 75170)

    Guanine is fish scales that have been scraped off dead fish. It is then soaked in alcohol to create a pearly essence that is added to products. In mainstream cosmetics you can find it in the sparkles of your products such as blush, eye shadow and nail polish.

  • Keratin

    This is another protein found in mammals. It comes from hair, nails and horns of animals. It is often found in hair products.

  • Lanolin

    This fat is derived from the grease in a sheep’s hair, and is a product of the wool industry.  It is most often found in lotions and lip balms.

  • Squalane

    This ingredient can be made from squeezing oil from the liver of a shark. You can find it in all sorts of moisturizers and cosmetics.


Many times companies will label their product “cruelty free” but may still use the ingredients mentioned above, or other animal by-products. Cruelty free does not mean a cosmetic is vegan. Cruelty free means that a company did not test their product or ingredients on animals during any phase of development. Although the term “cruelty-free” does prohibit the use of animal testing, it still allows the company to use animal ingredients, which are far from cruelty-free.

Need new products? Here is a list of vegan companies producing high quality cosmetics.


Natural makeup products crafted with the highest quality certified organic ingredients, and custom formulated to improve your skin while you wear it!


Plant based and vegan lip balm and moisturizer. Biodegradable with some organic ingredients.

Cheeky Cosmetics

Vegan mineral cosmetics and lip colors. Uses some organic ingredients.

Cocoon Apothecary

Vegan and eco-friendly skincare.

Everyday Minerals

Vegan mineral cosmetics and lip tint.


Vegan mineral cosmetics and mascara.


Vegan cosmetics and skincare.


Vegan skincare and lip balms.

Thera Wise

Vegan, all-natural therapeutic skin products.

The All Natural Face

Vegan mineral cosmetics, and even vegan squalene



© Gentle World 2023. Gentle World is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational organization, helping to build a more peaceful society by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition. EIN: 59-1999433