Face savers: Animal-friendly beauty goes mainstream

The beauty industry is changing with the times, offering a growing range of vegan products. Deirdre Reynolds talks to the experts and checks out what’s on the shelves.

A record number of Irish people have just completed Veganuary, according to the charity of the same name, but animal lovers here aren’t stopping at miland meat.

From lanolin-free lipstick to makeup brushes made using fake hair, now many have resolved to veganise their beauty regimens too, myself included.

Since the creation of the Leaping Bunny logo back in 1996, cruelty-free cosmetics have become an increasingly common sight on shelves both virtual and actual.

After Collins Dictionary recognised ‘vegan’ as one of the top 10 most popular words of 2018 however, products containing no animal ingredients whatsoever won’t just be limited to supermarket aisles in 2019.

At Arnotts in Dublin, The Ordinary is just one of the plant-based skincare ranges that flew out this Veganuary.

Launched by Canadian brand Deciem, its anti-ageing lotions, including Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone (€5.80) and Buffet Multi-Technology Peptide Serum (€14.80), have already gained cult status in beauty circles.

“There has been a seismic shift in consumers wanting to know what it is in their products,” says Anne O’Neill, head of beauty buying at Arnotts.

“Men and women are demanding not only natural products that are good for their skin and body, but are also cruelty-free and vegan.

"We have certainly seen more interest [in vegan beauty products] in the last couple of years, and predict significant growth in the coming years.

“With beauty, colour cosmetics is the fastest growing vegan category.

"As technology develops, brands can now more easily formulate effective and stable products without any animal-derived ingredients or by-products, so we would expect to see a lot more in the future.”

Whale vomit (ambergris), shark liver oil (squalene) and crushed beetle (carmine) are just some of the ingredients commonly found in beauty products like perfume and lipstick.

But with Planet Fashion embracing veganism like never before, it was only a matter of time before the beauty industry followed suit.

Having already phased out fur, designer Tom Ford — who went vegan in 2017 — recently appeared to turn his back on leather too, launching a collection of cruelty-free crocodile skin for spring/summer 2019. However, Tom Ford Beauty, which is owned by Estée Lauder, still uses animal testing where it is “required by law” such as in China.

Refusing to sell in China until the country lifts its requirement that cosmetics be tested on animals, Kat Von D last year went one step further by making her eponymous beauty range 100% vegan, exchanging the beeswax in her signature Studded Kiss Lipstick (€21) for a synthetic version, among other simple swaps.

“When I launched [the line], I was not vegan yet,” the celebrity tattooist told vegan lifestyle magazine Laika. “So I had no idea about ingredients in formulation. I would always think it was funny when brands would be like, ‘Oh, we’re vegan’.

“We have been reformulating anything that had carmine in the past, and if we can’t reformulate them, we just throw them out. I can live without a purple eyeshadow, it’s fine.”

Ten years since going vegetarian, I, too, have always considered the contents of my makeup bag to be just as animal-friendly as the contents of my fridge, investing only in ‘cruelty-free’ products. Yet it’s only since signing up for Veganuary a month ago that I’ve gone the whole hog by switching to ‘vegan’ ones.

Past excuses of vegan makeup being difficult to find or more expensive no longer cut it.

Saving more than a tenner, I swapped my usual No7 Stay Perfect Mascara (€17), which is cruelty-free but not vegan, for e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Infused Mascara (€6.45), which is available from select Penneys and pharmacies nationwide.

Likewise, I switched out my regular W7 HD Foundation (£6.95/€7.73) for another HD Foundation from the brand’s new Very Vegan range (£9.95/€11.06), available from www.w7cosmetics.co.uk, and was just as impressed. While NOTE’s vegan-friendly Long Wearing Lipstick (€7.95) also replaced Flormar’s Long Wearing Lipstick (€5.95), which lists cera alba (beeswax) among its ingredients, in my makeup bag.

With 8% of Irish people now vegetarian, and 2% vegan, according to recent figures by Bord Bia, I’m not the only one reconsidering my choices beyond the kitchen this new year, say beauty insiders.

“A few clients will ask if I am using vegan or cruelty-free makeup,” says award-winning makeup artist Rhona Cullinan of www.rhonacullinan.com.

“With the campaign against palm oil, I think a lot more people will be more aware and specific about what they are using in 2019.

“As a makeup artist, I would definitely choose PETA-approved products as much as possible. Most recently in Ireland, UR Makeup has just launched an amazing range of vegan makeup brushes, which I now use and [find] just as good, if not somewhat better, than the real hair brushes I would have always used in the past.

“I find absolutely no difference whatsoever between vegan and non-vegan products. You would never tell the difference.”

Since there is currently no labelling requirements for vegan products in Europe, and no official definition of ‘vegan’ for voluntary labelling, it’s up to the company to inform customers, by paying an annual fee to register products with the Vegan Society Trademark, for example.

Adding to the confusion, while the terms ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ may seem interchangeable, it’s not always the case as products can be both cruelty-free and vegan, cruelty-free but not vegan or even vegan but not cruelty-free.

Ahead of Veganuary, I also stocked up on a selection of goodies from Love Beauty and Planet, a brand new range of products, which can proudly boast of being both after signing PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies programme, available from selected Dunnes Stores, Tesco and McCabes Pharmacy priced from €9.99 — €15.99.

“The distinction between vegan and cruelty-free is very important,” explains Arnotts’ Anne O’Neill. “We stock a lot of vegan brands and brands where the majority of products are vegan, but not all products due to formulation challenges.

“Always look for the Leaping Bunny Logo [indicating a product is cruelty-free] and the Vegan Society logo. If in doubt, our beauty team will be able to help identify which products within a range are vegan.”

Six of the best vegan products

The Ordinary Serum Foundation, €6.70 (30ml): With 21 shades to choose from, this brilliantly blendable base — available from Arnotts and www.theordinary.com — is perfect for on the go.

W7 Very Vegan Brow Eco, €11.46: Brow down, with two brow powders, highlighter and wax, this budget grooming kit from www.w7cosmetics.co.uk has all you need for beautiful brows.

e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Infused Mascara, €6.45: Give Bambi a run for his money with this glide-on mascara made using synthetic beeswax, available in select Penneys and pharmacies nationwide.

Note Perfecting Pen, €8.95: Move over Touche Eclat, this sculpting concealer and highlighter, found in select pharmacies nationwide, is just as good at banishing under-eye bags and a fraction of the price.

Love Beauty and Planet Muru Muru Butter and Rose Petal Polish, €10.99 (125ml): So green it comes in a fully recycled and recyclable bottle, this blooming gorgeous face scrub guarantees a rosy glow.

e’lifexir Bodylift Anti-cellulite and Lifting Cream, €18.99: Found in Holland and Barrett stores nationwide, this eco-certified body lotion is kind to animals — the dreaded orange peel skin, not so much.

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