22 Non-Vegan Ingredients To Avoid When Buying Beauty Products

Several ingredients of animal origin are used in the manufacture of cosmetics. Fortunately, it happens only rarely, and for this reason, many people who have made the transition to vegan products don’t think about the problem. It took me months before I discovered that my makeup included animal-derived ingredients. 

There is a long list of ingredients derived from animals used in cosmetics (around 2,500, with names that are challenging to understand), and many of them are common in skincare products. If you read the ingredients lists carefully, you may see ingredients like beeswax, carmine (a pigment from cochineal insects), and lanolin (extracted from sheep’s wool).

Photo by Kardarius Seegars

Here is a list of 22 ingredients that can be found in animal-derived products:

  • Animal hair or bristles: referred to as Animal Hair.
  • Beeswax: referred to as Cera Alba or Beeswax.
  • Cattle Tallow: Referred to as Sodium Tallowate.
  • Chitosan: referred to as Chitosan.
  • Cochineal: Listed as E120, CI 75470, Natural Red 4, Crimson Lake, or Cochineal.
  • Collagen: referred to as Collagen, Soluble Collagen, or Hydrolyzed Collagen.
  • Cream: referred to as Lactis Lipida, Lactis Proteinum, Lac, or Caprae Lac.
  • Eggs: Referred to as Egg, Egg Oil, Egg Extract, Egg Powder, Egg Yolk, or Egg Yolk Extract.
  • Elastin: referred to as Elastin.
  • Glycerin: referred to as Glycerin. It is essential to underline that in the list of ingredients, there is no distinction between vegetable and animal glycerin: you must inquire directly with the manufacturer.
  • Guanine: referred to as Guanine. Lanolin: referred to as Lanolin. Its derivatives are found as Lanolin Acids, Isopropyl Lanolate, Amerlate P, Amerlate W, Iso-Pr Esters Lanolin Fatty Acids, and Lanesta S.
  • Honey: Referred to as Mel or Honey.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Referred to as Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, or Hyaluronic Acid. It is essential to underline that in the list of ingredients, there is no distinction between vegetable and animal hyaluronic acid: you need to inquire directly with the manufacturer, even if it is now difficult to find it of animal origin.
  • Keratin: referred to as Keratin.
  • Milk: referred to as Lactis Lipida, Lactis Proteinum, Lac, or Caprae Lac.
  • Placenta: referred to as Hydrolyzed Placental Protein, Placental Protein, or Placental Extract. 
  • Propolis: referred to as Propolis Cera or Propolis Extract.
  • Retinol: referred to as Retinyl Palmitate.
  • Royal Jelly: Referred to as Royal Jelly or Royal Jelly Extract.
  • Shellac: referred to as Shellac.
  • Silk Proteins: Referred to as Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Sericin, or Fibroin.
  • Squalene: Referred to as Squalene. Originally it was extracted from the liver of sharks. Now it is produced from vegetable oils, like olive oil.
  • Stearic Acid: Referred to as Stearic Acid. Castoreum: referred to as Castoreum.
  • Whey: Referred to as Lactis Lipida, Lactis Proteinum, Lac, or Caprae Lac.

Luckily, there are more cruelty-free and vegan beauty products on the market, as the trend regarding cruelty-free products is growing. By now, most of the best-known brands indicate which products are vegan and which are not. Almost all of them have at least one vegan option, but it’s always better to be prepared anyway!

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