5 Things to Be Aware of When Choosing Your Makeup

5 Things to Be Aware of When Choosing Your Makeup

I love makeup. And you usually won’t catch me leaving the house without winged eye liner and red lipstick. I love the way makeup makes me feel and the way it can change my mood. However, as amazing as makeup can be, it can also contribute to animal suffering and be full of horrible animal by-products. Luckily, being a vegan doesn’t mean giving up glamour.


Choosing certified vegan makeup is the easiest way to ensure your choice is cruelty-free. But just in case you can’t find a vegan brand around, here are 5 common things you want to be aware of on your next trip to the beauty counter.

#1 Carmine:

Ever wonder what makes your favorite red lipstick so red? It could possibly be bugs. Carmine is a red pigment made from the dried female cochineal insect. These insects are native to Mexico and South America and it takes 70,000 cochineal bugs to make just 1 pound of cochineal dye! This dye is commonly used in foods, drink, and…. non-vegan makeup.

Carmine red
Carmine is a red pigment made from the dried female cochineal insect.

#2 Squalane and squalene:

Squalene (and its derived Squalane) is a type of oil that mimics the consistency of our natural sebum. While it is often derived from plants, the highest concentration of squalane and squalene is found in shark liver oil. This ingredient is used in personal care products to help smooth and hydrate skin and hair. It is found in body moisturizers, bath oils, hair conditioners, foundations and skin care products.

Makeup Foundation
The highest concentration of squalane is found in shark liver oil. This ingredient is used in personal care products and makeup products such as foundations.

#3 Tallow:

Do you ever think about what happens to all those animals that are killed on the roadways? They could end up in your favorite eye shadow. According to Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, the process of rendering animal fat consists of boiling animal carcasses in a pot to produce fatty byproducts. The fat can be used as a skin-conditioning agent and an emollient in cosmetics like lipstick, eye shadow and soap. These dead animals come from a number of places, including slaughterhouses, expired grocery store meat, and road kill.

eye shadow
Do you ever think about what happens to all those animals that are killed on the roadways? They could end up in your favorite eye shadow.

#4 Lanolin:

If you don’t wear wool, why would you put it on your face? Lanolin is a product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool. In the makeup industry, this animal-based ingredient is usually used as an emollient in many skin care products and cosmetics such as mascara and lipstick. The wool from one Merino sheep will produce about 250–300ml of recoverable wool grease.

Mascara
In the makeup industry, lanolin is usually used as an emollient in many skin care products and cosmetics such as mascara and lipstick.

#5 Animal Testing and Third-Party Testing:

The discussion of animal products in makeup wouldn’t be complete without mentioning animal testing and third-party testing. I did my senior year final project on animal testing (yes, I was speaking up for the animals even then!) and I am amazed that animal testing, especially for cosmetics, remains an issue all these years later.

Currently, different countries take various stances regarding this issue. According to the FDA (the United States government agency that regulates the safety of cosmetics), “The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval.” In 2013, the European Union banned the testing  of cosmetics on animals and the marketing of cosmetics that were tested on animals. India, Israel, Norway, and Switzerland have passed similar laws and cosmetics companies that conduct animal tests will not be able to sell those products in any of these countries unless they change their practices. China, on the other hand, requires skin care and cosmetics firms to submit to compulsory animal testing in government labs before regulators approve products for sale in the country. This regulation can give a company a loophole to claim they are cruelty-free, as they themselves don’t test on animals, since it would be the government doing the testing. This landed the beauty brand Urban Decay in hot water several years ago for making the decision to sell in China. After a huge outcry from their customers, they changed their minds.

Third-party testing is a term used to describe the situation when the company itself may not test on animals, but the parent company tests the ingredients on animals, or they pay an outside organization to conduct animal testing. By doing this, a company can market themselves as cruelty free while knowingly contributing to animal testing. This becomes a big issue when a known cruelty-free brand, such as TOMS or The Body Shop, gets bought by a larger company, Colgate and L’Oreal respectively, which are not-cruelty free.

The simple solution to this is to educate yourself on these hidden ingredients and buy vegan products, that are as natural as possible, from vegan brands.

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Leolin Bowen

Leolin Bowen

Leolin is a vegan lifestyle expert and freelance writer with over 10 years experience in the field.

She is a mother of a grade school son and enjoys taking him to farm sanctuaries, museums, and planes to anywhere!

For more of Leolin's articles and writings, visit her website Leolin Bowen.
Leolin Bowen

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