The dangers of vegan beauty products may surprise some….but you need to know this!
By Chere Di Boscio
Hooray! Kind of. Thanks to campaigns like Veganuary and the growth of vegan eating, sale of vegan beauty products are trending! For example? In the UK, sales of these increased by a whopping 38% in the 12 months to end of January 2018, according to the NPD Group.
Cruelty-free certification is also becoming more important for consumers, as more people become aware of the beauty industry’s impact. Beauty brands with cruelty-free certification grew by 18% in 2017 and now account for 20% of the women’s face skincare market. Popular brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Decleor, Elemis, La Prairie and Liz Earle are leading the way, according to the report.
What’s more, according to research by www.Cosmetify.com 56% of female beauty shoppers buy vegan. But 39% of these aren’t even vegans! And 44% say they’d pay more for conscious beauty, skin and hair products.
It’s clear that consumers don’t want dead animals in their skin creams, and don’t want their perfumes sprayed in the eyes of bunny rabbits. And that’s great news!
It seems before, we were either unaware of the extent of animal cruelty in beauty products, or were brainwashed into believing it was necessary to protect our health somehow. But thanks to the spread of information on the internet, shoppers are far more conscientious about not about only the beauty products they purchase, but also the fashion they wear.
This should be super-good news, right? But there’s one pretty big caveat.
The Dirty Secrets Behind Vegan Beauty Products
Vegan beauty is often lumped in with the wider natural beauty market, which was valued at £124 million in 2017. Natural beauty products, including organic and naturally-derived brands, grew by 16% between February 2017 and January 2018, and outstripped the rest of the beauty market (up 7%).
But here’s the thing: vegan beauty is not equal to natural or clean beauty. In fact, sometimes, it’s far from it.
Slapping a vegan friendly label on a product is often an easy way to simply greenwash it. That’s right – many cruelty-free brands may not contain animal products or be tested on animals, but they’re often still full of seriously toxic ingredients that can harm your health.
This is especially true for colour cosmetics. These can often contain heavy metals like aluminium, blue or red lake colourants, lead, chromium and cadmium. These are all bio-accumulative, meaning their toxic effects build up in the body. When you’re overloaded with toxins like these, serious illnesses like cancer can ensue.
Finally, vegan products could also contain nanoparticles. These are especially hazardous since no one yet knows the extent of the damage they can do to human tissues and the environment.
A Small Test Of Some Top Vegan Beauty Brands
Let me illustrate what I mean about why some vegan and cruelty free brands may be hazardous to your health. Here’s a quick peek at what’s in some of the most popular brands’ products.
Rather than go through the multitude of products by this lauded MUA, let’s just take one product as an example. This eyeshadow palette contains several hazardous ingredients including:
- Butylparaben – a bioaccumulative toxin linked to cancer
- Propylparaben & Methylparaben – endocrine system disruptors that are banned in Europe
- Ultramarine Blue – derived from aluminum, which is linked to Alzheimer’s
Unfortunately, despite its popularity, it seems this is one of the worst brands for the hidden dangers of vegan beauty products.
Not surprisingly, this contains…well, Caviar, which is not vegan friendly. There’s also Ascorbyl Palmitate, which comes from palm seed extract. Which is killing the rainforests and orangutans.
Those two ingredients won’t harm your health, sure. But how on earth is this brand being sold as cruelty-free?
The ingredients list for this product includes:
- Phenoxyethanol – a known skin irritant
- Butylphenyl Methylpropional – a bioaccumulative toxin
- Fragrance – this is a ‘company secret’ that doesn’t need to be articulated on the label, but very often contains neurotoxins (chemicals that affect the brain
- Phthalates – chemicals that can affect development and fertility. Very often not listed in the ingredients, but rather under the guise of “Fragrance”
- Synthetic Musks – these are highly toxic chemicals that may disrupt hormone production. Studies have also shown that they’re so toxic, they actually have a negative impact on the environment and aquatic life when you wash them off!
I’ve just got one word for this cream: yipes! I’ve no doubt Elemis’ other products are just as bad.
d) Nature Box
Recently launched by chemical giant Henkel, Nature Box is a range of 22 personal care products including shampoo, conditioner and skin creams that feature oils extracted from fruits and nuts. Which is great, right?
But what they don’t advertise so much is that in addition to those great ingredients, there’s also a lot of stuff that’s indicative of the hidden dangers of vegan beauty products, including:
- Phenoxyethanol – which can shut down of the central nervous system, cause vomiting and contact dermatitis
- PEG-120 – this can reduce your skin’s natural moisture, resulting in an increase the appearance of aging and leave your skin and hair vulnerable to harmful bacteria
- Methyl Glucose Dioleate – may increase your risk of reproductive cancers
- Benzophenone-4 – can cause liver hypertrophy
Sure, the brand is transparent about that, listing the ingredients of their products on their site. But given that there are so many totally clean vegan brands out there, why would you choose this one?
This is possibly one of the most popular vegan makeup brands around. But according to the EWG, its ingredients rate it overall as a 2-5, meaning it is moderately dangerous.
That being said, there are also some ‘red alert’ ingredients the label uses, including:
- Citral – a known skin irritant
- Oxybenzone – permeate across the skin and accumulate in blood, the kidneys and the liver, and may be toxic to liver cells
- Fragrance – (see above)
The worst thing? There are some sites, such as skinsafeproducts.com, that actually list those products as being safe! What the actual….?!
And often, dangerous nanoparticles are not even listed on the label.
What You Can Do
So, what’s an animal-loving beauty addict to do about the hidden dangers behind popular vegan beauty products?
In short, vegan certified products are a great idea for animals, yay! But – don’t assume they’re not going to harm your health.
- Look for Leaping Bunny AND organic certifications. These include the Soil Association or USDA Organic on the label, for example.
- Download an app like Think Dirty or check the Environmental Working Group to see if an ingredient you don’t recognise on a label is safe or not.
- Check out some non-toxic vegan labels we love, below.
But above all, never, ever assume ‘vegan friendly’ is synonymous with ‘clean beauty’.
A Few Clean Vegan Beauty Products To Try
1. Lily Lolo
Lily Lolo Mineral Cosmetics is a luxurious, all natural London based vegan makeup brand. It has achieved cult status by beautifully harmonising natural, chemical free ingredients with the ultimate in mineral based technology.
From eye shadow palettes and blushers to foundations and setting powders, all items are free from harsh chemicals, dyes and fillers and even has antibacterial properties to help improve the skin.
Prices: From around $20
2. 100% Pure
100% Pure makes everything you need, from skincare to cosmetics. And those cosmetics get their pigments from totally natural ingredients like fruits, vegetables and teas, which also offer a huge amount vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients that make your skin prettier and healthier.
Price: From around $20
What are you looking for? Clean makeup? All-natural perfume? Gorgeous plant-based skincare that’s good for you AND the planet? Well, Pacifica is one vegan beauty brand that has it all!
Price: From $10
Were you aware of the dangers of vegan beauty products? Let us know in the comments, below!
Further sources used for this article: