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03 November 2020
Vegan Skincare 101: What To Watch For And The Brands To Check Out
There's been a huge rise in demand for vegan and cruelty free skincare products, but choosing the right one for you can be challenging. Here's the best vegan skincare brands and the difference between vegan and cruelty free beauty.
There was a time when the ingredients that went into our cosmetics was something we gave relatively little consideration to; if it worked, we were here for it and we didn't ask too many questions. 

But times are a'changing, and just as there has been rise in the number of people opting to eat a largely or completely plant based diet, so too has there been increase in demand for vegan beauty and skincare products. Largely driven millenials and Gen-Z consumers as conscious about what they put on their face as their plate, Superdrug alone have seen a rise of 300% in sales of vegan products since 2015 (1).  

Now, major brands such as Urban Decay, which is owned by L'Oréal, and Too Faced, which is owned by Estee Lauder, are getting in on the act, gradually shifting their product ranges to be vegan friedly. But what do you need to know about buying vegan skincare products?

Are vegan and cruelty free the same thing?

In a word: no. While vegan brands will be cruelty free by their nature, it doesn’t necessarily work both ways. Cruelty-free skincare products can contain ingredients derived from animal products, they must not have been tested on animals at any point in the manufacturing process. Brands that are sold in China, where its required by law that skincare and cosmetics brands are tested on animals, won’t count as cruelty free.

So, what counts as vegan skincare?

It sounds like a simple question, but when animal-based products are wrapped up in beauty jargon, they can be harder to spot than you would think. In skincare, non-vegan products can include beeswax, honey and milk proteins, as well as collagen, which is found in many anti-ageing products, and lanolin (wool grease) which is frequently found in moisturisers. Some types of alcohol, acids, glycerine, and lipids are also non-vegan.

Are there are any certifications to look for?

There are an increasing number of beauty brands registering with the Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark, which audits applications against three main criteria: that products contain no animal ingredients, the processing aids used in the manufacturing process are vegan, and its ingredients have never been tested on animals on behalf of the manufacturer.

However, just because someone doesn’t have an official vegan certification it doesn’t necessarily mean their products aren’t vegan. Much like with sustainable hotels, achieving certification can be expensive, putting smaller brands at a disadvantage. Like with food and drink products, it’s good to double check the label if you’re in any doubt.

To make things easier, PETA also have a search tool on their website that allows you enter a company and it will tell you whether their products use animal products.

Vegan Skincare Brands To Try Out


We’ve spoken before about our love of UpCircle beauty, who create incredible beauty products out of things that often go to waste, including coffee grains, fruit stones and tea leaves. Well, all of their products are also vegan and cruelty free too, with ranges for all kinds of skin, including acne prone, mature, and sensitive skin.

Freya + Bailey 

Skincare with a focus on protecting against the effects of stress and air pollution, Freya + Bailey is a gift sent from the heavens for any city-dweller who's fallen victim to dull, dry or dehydrated skin. While the whole range is vegan, we particularly love the Ingredients A-Z on their website, which means you can discover what each and every one actually does.

Dr Botanicals

Rooted in the power of plants, Dr Botanicals use plants, fruits and vegetables to create vegan skincare solutions including masks, moisturisers and serums. They’re so confident that their products get results that their website states that if you don’t see the benefits yourself then you get 100% of your money back, providing you bought the product directly from them.


Despite its name, Milk is 100% vegan and cruelty free, using no animal-derived ingredients including fats, oils, musk. In fact, the brand even publish a blacklist, specifying everything they don’t use in their products, including specific allergens, dyes, irritants and ingredients that may cause environmental damage.


Proving that vegan beauty needn’t break the bank, most of high-street favourite e.l.f’s skincare products come in at less than £15 and cover everything from face mists to eye creams.


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