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Picture of a range of different makeup items

Over the last few months I’ve noticed an increasing trend for skincare and makeup products to be labelled ‘vegan’. Whilst I don’t come close to being vegan in my diet (cheese and butter are my nemesis here…), I do tend towards the non-animal-for-human-benefit-alone approach and try to be sensible about use of animal derivatives. In the interests of essentially trying to do the best I can, I figure that animal products in makeup and skincare are probably non-essential and those that are plant-based are likely to be better for the environment on the whole.


I’m a long-term fan of moisturiser but pre-covid I didn’t wear much make up, and these days at home I wear even less – although with all the Teams and Zoom calls my face probably looms larger for colleagues on screen than it ever did in real life. Maybe I should think about that more than I do… 😉 Anyway, stop thinking about my enormous face. We should be getting back to the environment.


It never occurred to me that there was much of an environmental choice to what I put on my face. By contrast I’ve always been keen to buy makeup that’s advertised as not tested on animals (for full disclosure I was also a paid-up member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation) briefly but I’ve never really been a fan of their shock-tactic publicity. I’d rather take the quiet approach). Nowadays I’m a bit surprised to find out that some brands still do test on animals to be honest, but I’m not going to name and shame. It’s easy enough to check that what you buy is cruelty-free. In time if enough people vote with their feet (or rather their pockets), the practice will die off.


I’m also fairly careful to buy products that don’t use palm oil. Or if they do (it is quite hard to avoid once you start looking), then I make sure it is certified ‘sustainable’. I know this isn’t perfect, and it’s unlikely that any palm oil production is entirely ‘destruction-free’, but I’m working on the basis that it’s probably better than not trying at all. Honestly my primary motivation here is to protect habitat for orangutans but there are wider environmental issues that are associated with the habitat destruction. I know that when taken together these are globally more important than our orangutan cousins, but the orangutans are what I care about, and everyone benefits in the end, right?


Before writing this blog I wasn’t entirely sure what is in makeup or skincare products that is changed to make them vegan. A quick internet search will identify some well-known and obvious (and some lesser known and less obvious) ingredients to look for to avoid. Some are non-vegan, some are non-vegetarian. A sub-search will also identify pretty quickly a list of plant-based alternatives. Most of the suggested animal products could be by-products of the meat industry, or basic animal husbandry, which, all other arguments aside, could be justified as non-wastage since either the animal has already been used for another purpose, or extraction is from a natural process. How much you want to avoid animal derivatives is up to you but I will nail my colours to the mast here and suggest that no-one needs squalene in their anti-ageing cream.


I am not going to throw away in-use items just to feel better about what I put on my face. But, when things run out, I am now actively choosing to part with my money for certified vegan products. Because, well, why not spread a little good around the world when the net difference to me seems negligible?

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