Do You Know What’s In Your Makeup? The Shocking Truth.

Veganism is on the rise and throughout the world, more and more people are turning to an animal-product free lifestyle. Some are choosing this for health reasons, others for their love of animals and the latest trend of reducing their impact on the environment to save the planet and decrease carbon footprints.

Whatever the reason for people choosing veganism, it is a known fact that food manufacturers are now being forced to be more transparent with their labelling and be upfront with their ingredients. Even the fashion industry is making a change, from the growing popularity in vegan ‘leather’ to more synthetic fibres replacing the classic wool jumper.

But what about the cosmetic industry? The cruelty-free movement has been around for decades and animal lovers can easily identify these products from the ‘leaping rabbit’ logo on their favourite makeup. But cruelty-free may not be as animal-friendly as the public thinks, this simply means the product was not tested on animals, but can still contain animal by-products.

Veganism does not just stop at what we eat but also any product we buy, including makeup. A recent study by Flawless Lashes by Loreta revealed a shocking 36% of non-meat eaters were not aware of the use of animal products in the cosmetic industry. Flawless Lashes by Loreta want to raise awareness of these ingredients and are calling for clearer labelling on makeup that is not suitable for vegans. You can see a full range of their synthetic lashes at

For those choosing an animal-free lifestyle, or those who perhaps want to cut down on the animal products they buy, it is imperative to be educated on what goes into our cosmetics and what ingredients isn’t vegan-friendly so we can make informed choices.

Below you can see a list of the most commonly used ingredients that derive from animals. Most of these ingredients are given their more scientific name, so without prior knowledge, it could be easy to make a mistake and purchase something that does not meet your ethics.

  • Ambergris – This derives from the waxy oil that lines the stomach of a whale and is found commonly in perfumes.
  • Carbamide – Found in deodorants, lotions and facial cleaners and is more commonly known as urea, this is taken from animal urine.
  • Carmine – This is a dye used to create the sought-after rouge in lipsticks, glosses, blush and nail polish. Made from crushing thousands of tiny bugs called cochineals and is also listed as natural red 4, E120 and C.I 75470.
  • Cera Alba – You probably know this as it’s the more common name of beeswax. Found in lip balms, lipsticks, soaps and moisturisers. It prevents oils and other liquids from separating.
  • Collagen – Any consumer who worries about the signs on ageing will have heard of this and may even actively seek it out. Found on anti-ageing products, it is made from the bones, tendons, ligaments and skin of animals.
  • Estrogen – Most of us will have heard of estrogen at some point in our lives but do you know how the cosmetic industry obtains it for the huge amounts of perfume it goes into? This is found in the urine of pregnant horses.
  • Gelatin – You most likely know what gelatin is but it can also be listed as gel, hide gel, isinglass, kosher and halal gelatin. Made from the skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of farmyard animals typically pigs and cows, and it found in creamy cosmetics and nail polishes.
  • Guanine – Are you a lover of shimmery eyeshadow and highlighter? You may not be when you discover how this is achieved. Hundred of fish scales are scraped off fish to give that glitter effect.
  • Keratin – Lovers of hair products will know this one, it is in many hair care products and is even listed as an added benefit. But did you know keratin comes from the hai and hooves of farmyard animals?
  • Lactoferrin – Often used in shampoo and conditioner, this is an iron-binding protein found in milk.
  • Lanolin – Taken from the wool or fat of sheep and found in lip balms, lip glosses and lipsticks.
  • Shellac – If you’re a manicure lover then you’ll definitely be familiar with shellac, but this is made from the hard shell of lac bugs to create those hard-wearing properties it is famous for.
  • Squalene – Taken from the liver of sharks and used in eye makeup and lipsticks.
  • Tallow – This can also be listed as oleic acid, oleyl stearate, and oleyl oleate. This is taken from the fat of farmyard animals and it is found in a wide range of cosmetics, including nail polish, soap, foundation and eyeshadow.

When in doubt, look for The Vegan Society logo. This tells you that the ingredients have been verified as vegan-friendly.

We are all under pressure to reduce our carbon footprint and even though making individual changes is a great start, manufacturers need to be placed under more pressure. The rearing of livestock increases carbon footprint and uses up natural resources. 

Studies have shown that to produce just 1 pound of beef requires 2,400 gallons of water.

If cosmetic companies eradicate animal products from their products for the sake of consumers’ vanity, this will create a positive change.  

So if you are trying to make a change or perhaps are already vegan and weren’t aware of the implications of your cosmetic choices, make sure you scrutinise your products before you buy.