By Alicia of Dandiezette Cosmetics

So, you want to go vegan with your beauty products! But what products fall into this category? What does cruelty-free and all-natural mean? What sort of ingredients should you look out for? And how do you know a company is truly cruelty-free?

As we all know, vegan cosmetics do not contain any animal products and weren’t tested on any animals, full stop.

Cruelty-free cosmetics can imply the manufacturer did not test the final product on animals, the ingredient supplier did not test the ingredients on animals or a combination of both. If you want to ensure neither the manufacturer nor ingredient supplier tested on animals, you may have to do some research online, as there is no official or government-approved cruelty-free labelling body. Some also consider cruelty-free to not necessarily mean vegan-only ingredients, so while a lipstick may have never been tested on animals, it could still contain animal products.

Further complicating this is the fact that any cosmetics company that sells their products in China is forced to do mandated animal testing. So, while L’Oréal claims to not test on animals in North America, you can bet your blush they are doing so in China. It all depends on your personal level of cruelty-free comfort when it comes to following a vegan lifestyle. But there is truly no reason to test cosmetics ingredients on animals anymore, as the industry has been using the same safe ingredients for the past 50 years. I prefer to use the term guilt-free to encompass products devoid of any animal abuse.

“All-natural” is a bit of a misnomer too, as it’s almost impossible to find safe, FDA approved ingredients which have not passed through or been altered at a laboratory at some point. Sadly, beautiful, sparkly purple minerals are not dug out of a fabulous mica mine and locally harvested wild-crafted ingredients might not exactly meet the standards of being cosmetic-grade. Many natural products contain animal ingredients as well as known irritants and allergens. Not all chemicals are harmful, all-natural doesn’t imply safety and purity, and certain preservatives are safe to use (because no one wants pinkeye from bacteria-laden liquid eyeliner!). For example, one of my favourite vegan indie cosmetics companies is Fyrinnae and many of their products contain silicones and other human-made ingredients.

To you assist you with researching what kinds of ingredients you would like to include or cut out of your life (because knowledge is power!), non-vegan ingredients commonly found in cosmetics include:

  • Beeswax (we’re looking at you, Lime Crime!)
  • Carmine, a red colourant made from female cochineal beetles; also known as Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4 and carminic acid
  • Silk Powder
  • Guanine, from fish scales
  • Pearl powder
  • Lanolin, from sheep wool oil
  • Gelatin
  • Tallow
  • Petrolatum

The following products can be formulated from either animal or plant sources, so perhaps check with the manufacturer to clarify if they fall under the vegan category to your satisfaction:

  • Allantoin
  • Squalene
  • Retinol/Vitamin A
  • Fatty acids (Stearic, Oleic, Lauric, Palmitic and Myristic Acid)
  • Magnesium Myristate or Stearate
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Glycerin (I recommend not even purchasing makeup containing vegetable glycerin from indie cosmetic companies. A humectant that attracts moisture = mouldy makeup)
  • Makeup brushes
  • Sponges
  • False eyelashes

One company that we give our stamp of approval to is Dandiezette Cosmetics by Alicia May. Her cosmetics are hand-crafted with care for sensitive skins that still love a punch of sparkle or a dash of colour! Eyeshadows and face products will soon be restocked at The Foxy Shoppe in downtown Winnipeg, and you’ll also be able to find her at the Vegan Handmade Market on Dec. 3 in Winnipeg.

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