A Guide to Vegan Cosmetics for Face and Body

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Abiding by a cruelty-free and animal-free ethos is a challenge when the cosmetics and skincare shelves are full of deceptive labeling. Still, vegans can enjoy ethical skincare and cosmetic products when they practice due diligence to make their selections. 

Vegans are a considerable and growing market for the cosmetics industry, but manufacturers often deploy deceptive tactics to convince vegans that their products are suitable. One tactic they use to avoid animal testing claims is to use subsidiary companies. 

Unfortunately, while the subsidiary company may make valid claims on their directly produced products, the parent company is still exploiting animals for profit. Buying these products means you will continue to support animal testing, albeit indirectly and unknowingly. 

Differentiating Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan

At first glance, cruelty-free and vegan can seem inseparable, but there are important distinctions between the two. Cruelty-free claims refer to the fact that the product has not been tested on animals, but it does not necessarily mean that no derived animal products are used in the ingredients. 

A vegan compatible product contains no animal or animal-derived ingredients. Vegans must educate themselves about the ingredients in the products they use. For instance, carmine is a red dye created from the dried and crushed bodies of the cochineal scale insect native to the South Americas. 

Other products to be aware of include beeswax and honey (from bees), gelatin (from animal bones), and lanolin (from sheep’s wool). Manufacturers will often use clever tricks and hard to pronounce chemical names to hide these products in the ingredients list. 

Vegan Cosmetics and Skincare are Growing Markets

Products like vegan face cream, vegan cosmetics, and vegan hand cream were once confined to specialty stores and incredibly hard to find. However, veganism is on the rise and growing in popularity.  Ethical skincare and cosmetics manufacturers understand there’s a need for these types of products existing in the marketplace.  

The Vegan Trademark

The Vegan Trademark [* hhttps://www.vegansociety.com/the-vegan-trademark] is an internationally recognized standard that vegans can use to quickly identify authentic vegan products like vegan hand cream or cosmetics. Currently, more than 47,000 products around the world are qualified to carry the trademark, including cosmetics and skincare products.  

Of course, there are also thousands of products without the trademark that are also vegan. It always pays to check the labels and take the time to understand ingredients that you may be unfamiliar with when choosing a vegan face cream or vegan hand cream.  

Well Recognized Brands are Joining the Cause

While vegans are often seen as leading the charge, it’s not just vegans who want to see the elimination of cruelty and exploitation of animals. Many animal-cruelty aware citizens are choosing cruelty-free and vegan products because they also do not want to support an industry that exploits animals for the sake of skincare and cosmetic products.  

These concerned citizens help grow the market share for these products, which increases awareness about how the cosmetic and skincare industries use animals and animal products for profit. Many larger brands are starting to become aware of the need for ethical products and are all too happy to oblige.  

The more the market expands, the greater the resources will be to research and develop even more vegan approved products, such as sourcing glycerin and squalene from plants rather than animals. 

The Leaping Bunny Certification

The Leaping Bunny Program [* https://www.leapingbunny.org/] started in the 1990s from a coalition of animal protection organizations. There’s no legal requirement for a cruelty-free brand to join the Leaping Bunny Program, but it’s widely recognized as the gold standard.  

Companies must declare a cutoff date for when they will stop conducting animal testing to join the program. They must also have declarations from their suppliers and manufacturers stating they also refrain from animal testing. Members must make a renewed commitment every year, which is supported with updated information from their suppliers. 

As we mentioned earlier, cruelty-free does not necessarily mean the product is vegan, even if it does display a Leaping Bunny seal of approval – always check the ingredients.  

The market is growing, and finding vegan cosmetics, vegan face cream, and vegan hand cream products is a lot more straightforward than a few years ago. More and more distributors are creating vegan specific sections to make selection easier for vegans. However, care still needs to be taken because there is no guarantee that retailers will fully understand vegan requirements. 

If you are new to the vegan lifestyle and are looking to change your skincare regime, here are some of the best brands to get you started.

KVD Vegan Beauty

KVD Beauty went purely vegan in 2010 and continues to find new ways to bring vegan cosmetics to market. From eyeliners and eyeshadows to hydrating primers and liquid lipsticks, vegans can achieve any daytime or evening look they care to imagine.  

Milk Makeup

Milk Makeup is an edgy brand created for fresh looks that are colorful and quick to apply. New York’s Milk Studio’s launched the brand, and today it is powered by many veterans of the cosmetics and skincare industry. Milk Makeup declared itself cruelty-free at launch, but in 2019 it also confirmed that all its products are entirely vegan. 

Youth to the People

Youth to the People has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years as an upstanding producer of plant-based products focusing on antioxidant and phytonutrient dense ingredients lists. The vegan skincare company started as a family affair in 2015 but has generations of experience behind its products, including high-quality vegan hand cream and vegan face cream.


Pai is registered with The Vegan Society and produces a range of cruelty-free vegan skincare products for caring for your facial skin, hydrating dried hands, as well as a range of creams suitable for full-body care.  


Pacifica offers a full range of cosmetics, nail polish, body care, and hair products. They also have a recycling program and are cruelty-free. It’s not hard to view Pacifica as a one-stop-shop for all your vegan and cruelty-free skincare and cosmetic needs. 

It’s difficult, but not impossible, to create a cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare regime containing no animals or animal-derived products. To ensure their compliance, all vegans must learn about the products they are considering. As community awareness grows, so too will the market for these ethical products, and we can all enjoy clean, healthy skin and guilt-free vegan cosmetics.

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