It was not so long ago that vegan beauty options comprised of a few plant oils gathering dust in the corner of a health food shop. But in the last few years, along with the movement for plant-based eating and natural and organic diets, vegan beauty has come out of the niche and into the mainstream with stylish, high performing and innovative products.
It’s an exciting time for small brands to get noticed but large beauty companies are shouting out about vegan ranges now too – L’Oréal Professionnel launched Source Essentielle, a vegan-friendly haircare range with 80 to 99 percent naturally derived ingredients, and Botanea, an in-salon hair dye that’s 100 percent vegan. Demand for vegan hair products has risen by 180 percent, vegan searches on Boots online have doubled, and, in recent years, Superdrug has increased its vegan offering by 20 percent.
So what does vegan beauty actually mean? “Not to be confused with natural (grown from nature) or organic (from pesticide-free farming) beauty, it means products that aren’t tested on animals and don’t contain animal or animal derived ingredients,” says make-up artist Nat Van Zee, who specialises in vegan beauty and runs online beauty courses on the subject (vanzeebeauty.com).
The EU banned animal testing in 2013 but brands selling in foreign markets such as China may be required by law to test products or ingredients (even synthetic ones) on animals. Look for certification logos from The Vegan Society or PETA to help make better sense of it all.
Animal derived ingredients may be obvious, such as beeswax or honey, but there can be lesser known ones, such as milk proteins, carmine (a crimson pigment derived from insects), collagen (usually from cows, pigs or fish), shellac (made from lac beetle secretions), elastin (can be animal derived) or lanolin (extracted from sheep’s wool).
Whether you’ve been a vegan beauty buyer for years or are just transitioning into the market, our expert guide will help you show off summer skin, healthy hair and gorgeous looks with a clean conscience.
- Safe skin
Who can say no to a sun-kissed glow? But while no one wants the UV damage, conventional sunscreens commonly contain animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax, collagen, elastin, lanolin and stearic acid (a by-product of animal farming). For peace of mind, there are suncare products certified by The Vegan Society. Try Tropic Mini Skin Shade SPF30 (£15, tropicskincare.com).
Sunscreens can cause environmental damage through ingredients such as benzophenone-3, which has been shown to cause coral to die. We love Green People Sun Lotion SPF30 Scent Free (£22, greenpeople.co.uk) for creating products without harmful chemicals and a commitment to marine wildlife (30p from each sale supports The Marine Conservation Society).
- Safe skin
“Most brands use mineral oil and other petrochemical derivatives as bulk ingredients. These are vegan but many don’t biodegrade and contain liquid plastics that can be harmful to animal habitats and sea life,” explains Van Zee.
For a summer glow that’s kind to skin and planet we love new Isle of Paradise Light Self Tanning Drops (£19.95, isleofparadise.co.uk), which is free from parabens, sulphates and phthalates; Iconic London Prep Set Glow (£18.50, iconiclondoninc.com) for an antioxidant-rich glistening spray; and The Organic Pharmacy Self Tan (£38, theorganicpharmacy.com) for a formaldehyde-free treat. Prep before you glow with a microbead-free scrub such as Natures Alchemist Bircher Scrub (£7.99, superdrug.com).
- H&W loves Stay safe in the sun with Organii Sun Cream (£21.95; pravera.co.uk). Free from chemical nasties, the vegan formula protects against harmful UV rays. Added bonus – it contains an array of natural plant oils that will nourish your skin!
- Healthy hair
A week of sun, sea, chlorinated pools and styling in hotter climates can leave hair parched, colour-faded and crying for help. Prevention is always better than cure, so don’t leave it until after the summer holidays to fix unhappy hair.
“Before you jet off give locks an SOS treatment with a pre-holiday trim. The sun will do extra damage to hair that’s already dry so if you remove those dead ends hair will be in better shape,” says Viviscal ambassador and celebrity stylist, Neil Moodie.
- Healthy hair
Protect and go
Not just for skin, hair needs sun protection too. Defend against colour fade and dryness with Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil (£22.50, aveda.co.uk) as the lightweight mist won’t weigh hair down.
“Spritz through hair, twist ends into a loose bun and, later, let hair down for beachy waves,” tips Aveda advanced master creative director, Michael Lendon.
Post holiday SOS
To remedy extremely dry hair try this vegan-friendly hair tip from Sally-Ann Tarver, consultant trichologist at The Cotswold Trichology Centre (cots-tri.co.uk): ‘Take a handful of coconut oil (the solid stuff), rub between your hands, smooth it through ends and leave on overnight. Wash and condition your hair as normal the next day and your hair will look sleek and shiny.” Or try Infuse My Colour Treat (£18, zalando.co.uk) for a silicone-free and cruelty-free conditioner.
- Hot weather make-up
“Too many powdery products on top of each other in the heat can get cloggy and a bit patchy so switch to cream blush as they look so fresh and natural,’ tips makeup artist, Lou Dartford who uses green and natural make-up on fashion and runway shoots.
For base, “choose lightweight formulations and if you like a fuller coverage then build it up with a few finer layers rather than one thick layer. Work foundation into the skin so it’s not sitting on top. That will also last for longer in the heat,” says Dartford. She recommends Inika Organic BB Cream (£30, inikaorganic.com), certified by The Vegan Society.
- Hot weather make-up
Beach to bar
Lip stains are brilliant for hot days. Ere Perez Carrot Colour Pot (£21, lovelula.com) is a vegan multi-tasking balm that adds instant colour to cheeks and lips. “Put it on (a little goes a long way) and forget about it,” tips Dartford. For a bolder look, you can’t go wrong with Kat Von D Studded Kiss Cream Lipstick (£17, debenhams.com).
For day or night, “avoid anything too glittery as skin will create a natural sheen in the heat. Anything too heavy on skin can just look sweaty, especially in photos,” says Dartford.
For products with staying power we love Colorsport 30 Day Brow Tint (8.25, boots.com) – great for sporty types and holidays. For glossy, longer looking lashes swipe on Eyeko Beach Waterproof Mascara (£19, eyeko.com) and remove with an oil cleanser such as DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (£12.50, dhc.co.uk) which emulsifies and washes everything off. On the go? So Eco Konjac Sponge (£6.99, lookfantastic.om) is a winner – biodegradable and travel-friendly, this sponge will clean skin with or without a bit of cleanser.