EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN GOING ANIMAL-FREE.
Going vegan doesn’t have to apply just to your diet: Beauty and skincare products are increasingly going sans animal byproducts. In fact, according to a 2018 report by Grand View Research, the global vegan cosmetics and beauty market is projected to reach $20.8 billion by 2025. Like other terms, such as “green” or “sustainable,” “vegan” has the potential to be misunderstood. “A vegan product simply means the absence of animal ingredients,” says Jane Harris, the Buckhead resident who founded vegan hair care brand 2 Mango Sisters with her husband, Ed, in 2010.
Animal-derived ingredients have made their way into beauty formulations for centuries. Honey and beeswax were used in ancient Egypt to create everything from moisturizers to lip stains to help well-heeled Egyptians look their best. If you’re determined to avoid non-vegan ingredients, keep an eye out for common components including bee pollen, lanolin (derived from sheep), carmine (a red dye that comes from insects) and keratin (which can come from wool, feathers, horns and hooves), though a comprehensive list is much longer.
Vegan doesn’t always mean “clean” or “non-toxic.” “If you think about it, a lot of ‘vegan leather’ is some form of plastic like PVC or polyurethane,” says Becca Bussert, professional makeup artist and manager of the Buckhead location of AILLEA, a clean beauty retailer. “Make sure to check the other ingredients in a vegan product to look for harmful things like parabens, synthetic colorants, fragrances and more.”
If overall animal welfare is your priority, look for products that also specify “cruelty free.” “Cruelty free means that the product hasn’t been tested on any animals,” Harris says. “A product can be vegan and still be tested on animals.”
While certain ingredients are off limits when formulating vegan beauty products, that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for less-effective shampoo, conditioner, serums, cleansers or cosmetics. “Vegan, nontoxic or clean products can be just as effective as conventional products,” Bussert says. “In the last couple of decades, science has evolved to using safer and more natural ingredients with the same, or better, end result as we’ve come to expect from conventional cosmetic products.”
Harris experienced firsthand how a switch to vegan products can be an upgrade over conventional ones. “I had sudden hair loss that I wanted to fix and started researching ways to solve my problem,” she recalls. After formulating and regularly using the 2 Mango Sisters line, Harris enjoys fuller locks once again.
“My favorite skincare happens to be vegan,” Bussert says. She loves this retinol alternative serum designed to gently revitalize skin overnight, all without irritation or peeling. Its mix of fermented pumpkin enzymes and hydrating botanicals helps even skin tone and boost radiance.
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“Our conditioner is amazing,” Harris says of the formula infused with cocoa seed butter, aloe and shea butter. “It is rich with Amazon oil, made from native South American vegetables, that gives your hair the conditioning it needs. It enhances manageability and shine. It can also separate and lift curls, leaving them with a natural, carefree bounce.”
Senior Contributing Editor and Beauty Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel, Food and Design Writer and Author.