Vegan beauty and grooming products


Switching up your makeup and grooming products to sustainable or vegan brands is not hard. There are so many top-quality options available in the market at affordable prices. It has encouraged and allowed more consumers to embrace an ethical beauty routine. If you are just starting your transition to vegan beauty, there are reputed vegan and vegan-friendly brands that have recognised certifications from Leaping Bunny or the Vegan Society.

The rise in popularity of vegan products 

Vegan cosmetics have given people a means of adopting a vegan lifestyle without necessarily committing to dietary requirements. It allows conscious consumers to do their part in reducing cruelty to animals with products that are more beneficial for the environment. Vegan beauty products are transparent about their manufacturing process and avoid animal-derived ingredients. With a focus on an environmentally friendly business ethic, vegan cosmetics are all about harnessing nature’s goodness and finding vegan alternatives to ingredients – that would normally be derived from animals. Because of this, vegan products are gentle and nourishing on the skin and as effective as non-vegan options and without the need for harsh chemicals.

What do vegan beauty and grooming products entail

Vegan beauty and grooming products use natural ingredients that have been sourced responsibly and in no way contribute towards the harm of animals or the environment. They are careful about their packaging, as well as opting for upcycled materials so that they minimise their impact on the planet. Vegan brands go hand in hand with a cruelty-free policy ensuring that their products are not tested on animals. They continuously work on finding vegan alternatives to animal products or byproducts that are as effective if not more so.

Benefits of vegan beauty and grooming products 

Even if embracing vegan food is not for you, you can always adopt a vegan lifestyle through your purchase choices. Using vegan cosmetics is a great way to benefit the environment and yourself, as it is good for both. With an ingredients list that is filled with natural goodness and produced with the minimum impact on the environment, vegan beauty has made its mark as the sustainable way forward for the beauty industry. Many big names in the industry are steadily switching their product manufacturing processes to be in keeping with the ethical beauty preferred by an ever-increasing number of consumers globally.

Purchasing vegan products

In terms of following a vegan diet while it might come across as a matter of simply avoiding certain foods, it is somewhat different when it comes to cosmetics. Some brands may lay claim to being vegan or vegan-friendly, it is good to double-check, especially if they do not currently have any recognisable certifications. The below list will give you an idea of which ingredients should not be contained for a product to be truly vegan. It is also very important to pay attention to the terminology when it comes to the ingredients listed.

Most importantly, remember that it is okay if certain ingredients slip your notice as there may always be some that escape your attention. However, as PETA says, ‘being vegan is about helping animals, not maintaining personal purity’, meaning that any effort you make will have a positive impact.

Animal fats and oils

Animal fats and oils were staples of the cosmetic industry of old times and usually obtained from animals slaughtered for their meat. They are used to add texture, consistency and as dispersing agents. Some common examples of animal fat and oils include beeswax, carmine or cochineal, collagen, casein or milk protein, elastin, oestrogen and gelatine. Royal Jelly made by honeybees are also popular animal-derived ingredients used in mainstream cosmetics. Natural vegan alternatives to these include olive oil, wheat germ oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil and safflower oil, among others. 

Animal-derived proteins

These are proteins such as collagen which is a type of connective tissue, elastin and keratin derived mostly from cattle.  Keratin, found in horns and feathers, is mostly used in standard shampoos, conditioners and hair masks. Suitable vegan alternatives include amla oil and soy protein. Collagen, which is a well-known ingredient in cosmetics, can be substituted with synthetic collagen, soy protein or almond oil. Elastin is a widely used animal protein because, like collagen, it is believed to help with skin tightening and elasticity. Natural alternatives include coconut oil, honey, olive oil and of course, eating lots of greens and nuts. Certain companies even source the naturally occurring snail mucin extract, which contains elastin.

Beeswax and honey

Beeswax and honey are often added to cosmetics as natural emulsifiers allowing liquids to blend well and hold. To obtain beeswax honeycombs are melted with boiling water and then strained. Sourcing can be done ethically, but in most cases, short cuts which are harmful to the bees are taken, such as cutting off the queen bee’s wings so she cannot leave the colony and having her artificially inseminated. Methods such as these go against vegan ethics which is why many avoid products that have either of these ingredients. Suitable alternatives include Candelilla wax and neem oil. Honey can be referred to as Mel in ingredients listings while beeswax can be listed as Cera Alba or Cera Flava.


Lanolin found in sheep’s wool is another common ingredient used in creams and lip products. While a synthetic alternative exists, it is rarely used.  It can be listed under cruelty-free as it is sourced from wool but is still animal derived. Some people can actually be allergic to lanolin. Orange wax is a great vegan substitute for lanolin. Lanolin can also be listed under the following names – wool alcohols, wool fat, anhydrous lanolin, amerchol, lanolin alcohol, alcoholes lanae, wool wax, and wool grease.

Carmine (Cochineal extract)

Carmine is a type of red dye sourced from a type of South American insect. It is also referred to by the following names – carminic acid, cochineal, natural red 4, E120, of C.I. 75470. As an alternative, alkene root or beet juice can be used. 


Guanine is a pearly crystalline substance often used to add shimmer to cosmetic products sourced by grinding fish scales. It can also be listed as Pearl Essence, Pearl Extract or Pearl Powder. Suitable vegan substitutes include leguminous plants, and synthetic pearl or bronze particles.


Making a conscious choice to embrace ethical beauty is a journey and a learning process. With the correct resources and research, you can slowly but steadily rid your cosmetics and beauty care collection of any products that have animal-derived ingredients. Take time and make the transition sustainably. Use up the products you already own and thereafter make more informed purchases. 

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Seren Scents

Seren Scents is an ethical, cruelty free and Vegan brand house based in London that specialises in cosmetics, men’s grooming and sun care. Our vision and greatest strengths have always been uncompromising product quality and the strive to make beauty affordable and cruelty free.