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What are Vegan Cosmetics?

What are Vegan Cosmetics?

You’ve probably come across cosmetics labeled as “vege”, “vegan”. This indicates that the product does not contain any ingredients derived from animals. Plant-based products are increasingly sought after by consumers, as the number of people adopting veganism as not just a diet but a lifestyle continues to grow.


What exactly is veganism?

The history dates back to 1944 when the term “vegan” was first coined by Donald Watson, an animal rights advocate and founder of The Vegan Society—the organization that initially brought together vegans. In Poland, veganism emerged a bit later, in the 1980s. The core principle of veganism is that all beings have the right to life, freedom from exploitation, and unnecessary suffering. It’s a philosophy that advocates for excluding anything from one’s life that could contribute to animal exploitation and cruelty. In terms of diet, this means abstaining from meat and animal products. Vegans also avoid wearing wool or leather clothing and shoes, ensuring that daily hygiene and skincare products contain only plant-based, mineral, or synthetic substances.


When do we say a cosmetic is vegan?

Vegan cosmetic products are those produced without the use of animal-derived ingredients or any association with them. However, it’s important to note that vegan cosmetics are not synonymous with “natural” or “organic” products, although these trends are increasingly converging in today’s cosmetics industry. In the market, you can find both certified vegan cosmetics and those without such certification. The Vegan Trademark and V-Label are popular international certifications for vegan cosmetics. In Poland, the “V” symbol on the product’s packaging is awarded by the Viva! Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of animals and their humane protection.


What ingredients are not found in vegan cosmetics?

What won’t you find in vegan cosmetics? Primarily, any animal fats, dairy raw materials (such as goat or donkey milk, or colostrum), and bee products like honey, bee pollen, propolis, and beeswax. Vegan cosmetics also do not contain snail mucin. Ingredients like keratin proteins, silk proteins, and eggs are also excluded. Additionally, vegan cosmetics steer clear of animal-derived colorants, collagen from fish skin, and elastin. Instead, they use plant-based proteins with a similar amino acid composition to collagen, referred to as plant collagen. Lanolin, a conditioning substance obtained from sheep’s wool, and chitosan, a moisturizing substance derived from crustacean shells, are also avoided.

In perfume production, ambergris, a secretion from sperm whales, and musk, obtained from musk glands, have been traditionally used to enhance fragrance longevity. However, natural musk is increasingly being replaced by synthetic aromatic compounds, similar to the case with ambergris and civet secretion.



Veganism today goes beyond a plant-based diet, extending to a lifestyle that rejects cruelty towards animals, including in the realm of cosmetics. Using vegan cosmetics doesn’t have to be challenging, and one doesn’t have to be a vegan to use them. The current cosmetics market offers ample opportunities to opt for products free from animal-derived ingredients, and the range of vegan brands continues to grow. The simplicity of their ingredients doesn’t compromise their effectiveness.

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