The sharp increase in vegan eating and plant-based products in all sectors has been great news for environmental activists everywhere, but it has come with its own pitfalls. When it comes to the skincare and cosmetics industries, veganism may represent an opportunity for misleading marketing and health claims.
What defines vegan skincare and cosmetics?
Just as with a vegan diet, vegan skincare and cosmetics avoid any animal products in their formulas. However, this does not necessarily mean that brands with vegan products refrain from animal testing or that they don’t incorporate other harmful ingredients into their formulas.
Greenwashing in Vegan Beauty
A product can market itself as vegan and still rely on unsustainable production methods and involve animal cruelty in its testing procedures. A vegan product can also still contain environmentally damaging components such as microplastics, which are found in many physical exfoliants, face washes, and cosmetics with glitter or metallic effects.
Vegan is not always a better choice
Vegan products do not exclude harmful ingredients, despite many having health claims that suggest entirely natural or “clean” formulas. These ingredients often include heavy metals such as aluminum, chromium, cadmium, and even lead. These are found most commonly in cosmetics with colorants in them, but can also be present in dyed skincare such as some lotions and SPF products.
Heavy metals are ultimately toxic to the body, and their effects are accumulative, which means the longer you use products containing them the more they can build up and cause serious adverse health effects.
Further, vegan skincare can still contain potential irritants such as drying alcohol or comedogenic substances that may clog your pores.
While ingredients such as these are not inherent to vegan formulas, it is important to know that the regulations surrounding “vegan-friendly” labels on skincare and cosmetics apply only to animal products and do not automatically denote a healthier or safer product.
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