Guide to buying vegan cosmetics

1. Cruelty free: if it’s been tested on animals, it isn’t at all vegan. Most small businesses don’t have the funds to even test on animals, but asking is always a good idea when you’re not sure.

2. Keratin: gaining popularity with hair treatments, it is of animal source unless it is indicated to be phytokeratin.

3. Allantoin: this wonder-ingredient is found in plants – especially comfrey root, but it can also be found in and extracted from the urine of mammals – make sure the company’s source of the ingredient is non-animal. (At Verbena Cosmetics, our allantoin is confirmed to be vegan!) Related ingredients: Alcloxa and Aldioxa.

3. Carmine: this is found in insects, and added to cosmetics for its red colour.

4. Elastin is found in cows and often put in mascara-type products.

5. Glycerin: it’s the same as the “glycerol backbone” of triglycerides you learned about in grade 12 Biology; it can be derived either from animal or vegetable sources. At Verbena Cosmetics, we use vegetable glycerin.

6. Pearl and silk powders/fibres: self-explanatory – their only source is of animal origin.

7. Lanolin: commonly used in moisturizing creams and lip products, it is of animal origin.

8. Panthenol: also known as ProVitamin B5, this hydrating ingredient is derived from either plant or animal sources. At Verbena Cosmetics, our panthenol is not of animal sources.

9. Tallow: animal fat commonly used in soap for its low price.

10. Stearic acid: comes from either plant or animal source – at Verbena Cosmetics, our Stearic Acid is 100% vegan.

11. Lactic acid: can be found in plant or animal sources.

12. Arachidonic acid: usually comes from animal liver, and never plant sources. It is often used to soothe skin, and alternatives include aloe vera, allantoin, and calendula.

13. Collagen: usually derived from animal sources, the collagen molecules can’t even penetrate our skin because they are too large. Collagen cream doesn’t work anything like actual collagen injections.

14. Retinol: another common “ani-aging” ingredient (there’s no actual evidence to guarantee that it works as “anti-aging” like it’s [prescription only] cousin, retinoic acid).

15.  Emu oil: comes from the native Australian bird, the Emu.

16. Squalene: usually found in moisturizing creams, it tends to be derived from animal sources.

17. Beeswax, bee pollen, cera bellina, royal jelly:


18. Vitamins: can be of animal or plant sources – make sure to check!


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