What To Expect From Vegan Beauty

It’s not all natural and cruelty-free, although it has no animal ingredients. It may have synthetics and chemicals. But it may also be gentler on your skin.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It’s not all natural and cruelty-free, although it has no animal ingredients. It may have synthetics and chemicals. But it may also be gentler on your skin.

People generally have preconceptions about anything vegan. They assume that vegan food must be healthy, nutritious and fat-free. They assume that vegan beauty must be better, more eco-friendly and more morally sound than what’s synthetically engineered.

Well, it’s yes and no for the latter. A vegan beauty product has no animal ingredients or derivatives such as carmine (a red pigment that comes from crushed cochineal insects), gelatin, animal fat, milk protein, honey and beeswax. It doesn’t mean it’s all-natural, has 100 per cent botanicals or that all its ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced or cruelty-free.

So what is vegan beauty? Eric Chew, founder of natural multibrand beauty store Bud Cosmetics, says many people turn to veganism because they don’t want to contribute to animal suffering, which is why they should ideally look for products certified by a trusted association such as The Vegan Society, Vegan Action or the American Vegetarian Association.

“The vegan accrediting process requires that there be no animal-testing of the ingredients or finished products by any party involved with the production, and no future testing. This ensures certified products are cruelty-free,” he says.

What you can expect from vegan beauty products is generally gentler ingredients. Lily Kew, founder of local organic brand Kew Organics, says the natural and organic botanical ingredients used are gentler on skin than artificial chemicals. “That doesn’t mean they’re ineffective. In fact, they’re excellent choices for people with chronic skin conditions such as acne, and provide great results as they are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and botanical extracts.”

Vegan beauty has some limitations, however. The number of certified brands and products available here is relatively small, though Chew says the pool is growing. “Another area in which vegan beauty is still catching up is cosmetics, in terms of the range of colours, intensity and lasting power. But almost all our customers looking for vegan-friendly cosmetics are willing to compromise for the assurance that the product is cruelty-free,” he says.

One way to widen your options is to look beyond certified vegan brands. These are not fully vegan, but have a good selection of vegan offerings. Among them are The Body Shop, Kat Von D and Urban Decay. The products may not be certified, so you’ll have to trust in the integrity and diligence of the brand in ensuring a product meets vegan criteria. See our digital edition to find out which brands are fully vegan.



1 The Body Shop Strawberry Clearly Glossing Shampoo, $15
The British brand has long been a poster girl for animal rights. It goes vegan with its strawberry shampoo (and conditioner, $15).
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4 Aesop
“Vegan” isn’t on the Australian brand’s label, but its stuff – like this moisturiser with SPF – is cruelty-free and has zero animal-derived ingredients. Protective Facial Lotion, $77.
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6 Linne
This US company’s products are said to be made in small batches from wild-harvested and organic plants. Repair Face Oil, $58-$114.
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8 Kew Organics
The home-grown brand is said to be the world’s first water-based organic skincare brand. The Ultra-revive H2O+ Masque is $80.40.
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10 Antipodes Halo Skin brightening Facial Mud Mask, $52
This New Zealand outfit uses superfruits sourced from the country’s pristine environs. The mask brightens, and boosts skin regeneration.
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11 Pixi
It’s not certified vegan, but items like the Hydrating Milky Serum ($36) are vegan-friendly.
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2, 9 Kat Von D
The US brand is cruelty-free, though not all-vegan. Two products that are: the semi-metallic, smudge resistant Brow Struck Dimension Powder, and Signature Brow Precision Pencil, which softens on contact with your brow oils so it glides on ($31 each).
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3 Urban Decay All Nighter Waterproof Setting Powder, $50
Certified cruelty-free by Peta, some of the brand’s new offerings are vegan, like this mattifying powder.
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5 Tarte Limited Edition Rainforest of the Sea Foil Finger Paints Shadow Palette, $58
Vegan makeup can boast intense colours and plush textures, like this Peta-certified brand’s metallic eyeshadow palette.
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7 Too Faced Melted Gold Liquified Gold Lip Gloss, $33

Buildable, and delivering epic glitter with real gold, this vegan makeup is hardly boring.