Photo: The Body Shop SG / Instagram
When it comes to vegan beauty, there’s a couple of things to get straight first. One: don’t assume vegan means “all-natural” or “100 per cent botanical”. A vegan product simply has no animal ingredients or derivatives, such as carmine (a red pigment that comes from crushed female cochineal insects), gelatin, animal fat, milk protein, honey and beeswax (though some vegan brands do use ethically and sustainably sourced bee products). But it may have synthetic ingredients and chemicals, sometimes as alternatives to animal-based ones.
And two: it’s not a given that vegan beauty products are cruelty-free, though most of them are. Eric Chew, founder of natural multi-brand 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 that are certified by a trusted association such as The Vegan Society, Vegan Action or The American Vegetarian Society.
“The vegan accrediting process requires there to 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 explains.
What you can expect from vegan beauty products is its gentleness. Lily Kew, founder of local organic brand Kew Organics, says natural and organic botanical ingredients used in vegan skincare are gentler on the skin compared to the artificial chemicals. “But 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 anti-ageing results as they are full of skin-rejuvenating antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and botanical extracts,” she says.
There are some limitations to vegan beauty, however. For starters, the number of certified brands and products available here is relatively small, though Chew says the pool is slowly growing. “Another area where vegan beauty is still catching up on is cosmetics – in terms of the range of colours, intensity and lasting power. However, 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 range of options is to look beyond certified vegan brands. There are now many others that are not fully vegan but offer a good selection of vegan offerings, such as The Body Shop, Kat Von D and Urban Decay. Some of these products may be certified, others not, in which case you would have to trust in the integrity and diligence of the brand in ensuring the product meets vegan criteria.