So, you’ve taken a leaf out of Miley’s book and decided to follow a kinder, greener, vegan path.
You’ve mastered the art of the Tofu Scramble, make an Avocado Chocolate Torte that would make Nigella weep, and finally worked out how to pronounce “quinoa”. You started busting out the big guns when you pre-ordered a Sans Beast handbag to go with your Stella McCartney faux-fur coat. You are Vegan AF, making the world a better place, one soy chai latte at a time.
Well, you thought you were… right until your bestie casually drops a bomb on your otherwise lit face.
“You know you’re smearing crushed bugs onto your lips every day, right?”
What Makes Cosmetics Vegan?
#veganbeauty isn’t just for those following a plant based diet, it’s for anyone who doesn’t want an animal to suffer for their skincare – basically anyone who thinks beetle carapaces and snail secretion belong in the garden and not on your face.
Vegan beauty is often associated with eco friendly and sustainable practices, but that isn’t always the case. There are plenty of high end synthetic ingredients that can make their way into vegan products too – so long as they aren’t derived from an animal.
This can make navigating what Forbes calls the multi-billion dollar world of beauty products a bit of a trick for vegans. The good news is that lack of information and transparency isn’t cutting it for Australians anymore, with brands like Sukin leading the change and being open with their customers. If only every brand would follow in their footsteps…
Think you know your way around vegan beauty? Here’s a quick quiz to check your knowledge.
Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty - how much do you know?
Where can I buy Vegan Products?
For Julie Mathers, the frustration of finding a natural vegan lipstick at the drugstore drove her to start the online vegan beauty and homewares store Flora and Fauna back in 2014.
She was at a Boots in her native UK, trying to find a shade of lippy to wear to a wedding when she had an epiphany.
“I was in there and I was thinking, what is in this lipstick, and how is it made. For me it was a tester on a shelf, and there was just no information about it”.
Since then, Julie has stocked Flora and Fauna with only 100% vegan and cruelty free products. She also makes a point of stocking Australian brands – 90% of their cosmetic and skin care ranges are made right here.
Many of these make it into their coveted seasonal beauty boxes – a local, vegan equivalent of the Itsy or Birch Box, that tends to sell out within days of its release.
It’s not just the seasonal boxes flying out the door. If their turnover is anything to go by, vegan beauty is definitely making it into the mainstream. Julie says their sales tripled between 2016 and 2017, while 2018 is set to be even bigger.
“This year will be about four times” she says with a smile.
It’s not just the boutique and niche online retailers either, you can buy brands like Sukin at any Coles, and Mecca Cosmetica stock over a thousand vegan products in store and online. You can also find great products at Myer, Sephora, Priceline and most local chemists.
How is animal testing still a thing?
We have it pretty good here in Oz, where vegan products are surprisingly easy to find. We’re even finally catching up to the European Union with a new law banning animal testing for cosmetics, but unfortunately it won’t come into effect until May of next year. Apparently, brands need more time to prepare for compliance.
Wendy Herbert from Choose Cruelty Free, Australia’s own cruelty free certification body, says brands seem to see the benefits to going cruelty free but don’t always live up to the standards needed to become certified. This means no animal testing of any ingredient at any stage of production or supply, and no sales in jurisdictions that require post-market animal testing.
“Many companies make an enquiry, then never proceed with submitting an application. They then take great delight in telling consumers ‘we are looking into this’ or ‘we have started an application’.”
What the Pros Say
There are plenty of Australian brands that do make the cruelty free cut, like Australis, Designer Brands and Sukin. So how do the Aussie products compare? I asked two vegan MUA’s (that’s Make Up Artist to the rest of us) how they stack up.
Charada Hawley is a travelling vegan MUA, specialises in editorial and wedding makeup. She says brands that share her philosophy on beauty without cruelty like Hot Tresses specifically seek her out, something that she consciously set out to do.
“I’ve marketed myself in such a way that if you’re looking for a vegan makeup artist I’m easy to find, but I don’t really come up in search engines if you’re just looking for a makeup artist.”
Eleni Thanos went one step further and showed me exactly how well the Aussie brands perform. In this video, she talks about vegan cosmetics and does a full face of everyday make up on me using only Australian products that are vegan and cruelty free. We made a time lapse of the whole thing to show that you don’t have to compromise on quality while also keeping it kind.
This video was produced by Agata Stepnik for MECO6925 Onlice Journalism, Semester 1 2018 at the University of Sydney. Music: Where you are by Dysfunction_AL (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
Is vegan beauty the next big thing? Ethical or eco minded, this is one beauty trend we hope won’t ever go out of style.
Tell us about your holy grail vegan beauty items in the comments below!