Does Your Favorite Product Have Hidden Animal Ingredients?

“A vegan walks into a drugstore…” sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but the difficulty of finding cosmetics and hygiene products that are both cruelty-free and truly vegan is no laughing matter.

For starters, many products that are recommended highly by online reviews or blogs have a hard time fitting the bill. Secondly, the solution is not to just simply throw up your hands and say, “Well, I just won’t wear make up!” As it turns out, there are many non-vegan ingredients lurking in things like lotions and conditioners as well.

Cosmetics from brands like MAC, a company that can’t be considered cruelty-free because their products get tested on animals in China, are considered beauty classics or staples. Their lipstick “Ruby Woo,” for instance, is touted as a favorite lipstick on almost any list you find online. Not only is this not a cruelty-free product, but it also contains carmine— or as I like to call it, crushed up bugs.

 Best Vegan Cosmetics and Skin Care

It turns out that carmine isn’t the only popular ingredient that will take your beauty staples from cool to cruel. PETA has an extensive list of animal ingredients, but here are a few of the most common perpetrators and what products they are used for:


It is illegal to use ambergris, an “intestinal slurry” from the sperm whale, in perfumes in the United States due to the animal’s endagered status; however, the substance is still used in other countries as a fixative in perfumes from luxury houses such as Chanel and Lanvin.


Beeswax is found in everything from lip sticks to lotions. It’s a popular wax in cosmetics, although there are several alternatives. It is made from the honey combs of honey bees. Harvesting the wax or honey can do lasting damage to a hive or come at an ethical cost.


As mentioned earlier, carmine is the colorful byproduct of crushed up female cochineal bugs. It’s also listed on ingredient lists as “Natural Red 4;” however, it can no longer be categorized under the umbrella of “natural dyes” because it causes a severe allergic reaction in some individuals. It is common not only in lipsticks, but other cosmetic products as well as some food products that use red dye.

Casein/Sodium Caseinate

Commonly used in hydrated products such as hair masks or conditioners, sodium caseinate or casein is a protein derived from cow’s milk.


An alcohol present in the fats and oils from animals, cholesterol is also found in the nervous system, blood and egg yolk of animals. It can be found in skin conditioning products.


This ingredient is one of the biggest buzzwords in the anti-aging market. This is largely because the slowing of collagen production is thought to be a culprit for aging and many products advertise an increase in collagen production. It is actually the “most abundant protein in the animal kingdom.” It is used in topical skin lotions as well as cosmetic lip plumpers.


Chances are, this ingredient would knock out half of your bathroom products from the vegan category. While there are now vegetable glycerin alternatives, glycerin is an alcohol that is mostly derived from animal fats. It is found in face washes, soaps, mouthwash, cosmetics and even chewing gum.


This popular ingredient for hair straightening and conditioning treatments is actually derived from the ground up hooves, feathers, horns and hair of various animals.

Lactic Acid

Several acids are used in anti-aging or exfoliating products, and this alpha-hydroxy acid happens to be an animal by-product from milk fermentation. Fortunately, other popular acids such as salicylic, citric and glycolic are all vegan-friendly.


An oil taken from the glands of sheep, lanolin is a widely-used emollient in both cosmetics and skin care products.


Lecithin is a waxy substance found in the nervous system of animals. It also has plant-based derivatives from soybeans. It can be found in cosmetics, lotions, skin care products and some medicines.

Oleic Acid

This is fatty acid that is found in both plants and animals, but it is commonly derived from animal fat or tallow. Oleic acid is found in soap, creams, hair treatments and some foods. There are several vegan alternatives.


Another champion of the anti-aging market, retinol is a synthetic form of vitamin A that is often obtained from fish liver oil, egg yolk or butter. It can also be obtained from lemongrass, wheat germ oil, carotene from carrots or other synthetics. It is found in and abundance anti-aging skincare products.

Vegan and Cruelty Free Products

While it may be heartbreaking to find out that a favorite product isn’t in fact vegan, there are several highly-rated vegan and cruelty-free cosmetic products that make worthy replacements. These classics come recommended from reviewers online as well as beauty bloggers.

Make Up:

Cheap Vegan Products

Red Lipstick: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar

Cheap and Vegan Products

Foundation: Urban Decay Naked Skin

Cheap and Vegan Products

Mascara: Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara

Cheap and Vegan Products

Eye shadow: e.l.f Baked Eyeshadow Trio

Cheap and Vegan Products

Nail polish: SpaRitual Nail Polish

Cheap and Vegan Products

Primer: 100% Pure Mattifying Primer


Cheap and Vegan Products

Face wash: Aqua Marina Face Wash- LUSH

Cheap and Vegan Products

Face lotion: Body Shop Vitamin E Intense Moisturizer

Cheap and Vegan Products

Shampoo and conditioner: Jason Fragrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner

Cheap and Vegan Products

Body lotion: Pacifica Body Butter

Cheap and Vegan Products

Anti-aging product: Skyn Iceland Arctic Elixir Serum

Cheap and Vegan Products

Sunscreen: Sun Bum Original Sunscreen


Teresa W
Teresa W8 months ago

Yves Rocher cosmetics are plant-based, and they are very good.

michela c
michela c8 months ago

Thanks (I love Lush!)

Sue H
Sue H8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sulis T
Sulis Thermae9 months ago

Nice collection… thanks for sharing…. Skyn ICELAND was born from a life-changing mission to treat and alleviate the effects of stress on skin while promoting a stress-free life full of balance, health and wellness. Their inspiration comes from nature, in the pure unspoiled natural resources of Iceland – with its mineral rich waters, antioxidant powered berries, soothing algae, replenishing mosses. Their commitment to nature is evident through the range. With packaging that’s easily recyclable and products free of parabens, petroleum, mineral oil and sulfates. Free from animal testing and 100% vegan.

Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Thank you for posting.

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Laura A.
Laura A2 years ago

We as humans are naturally attracted to beauty. It is in fact engrained in our DNA. A person that possesses beauty is a sign of a healthy genetic structure which aids in selecting a life partner that will result in a healthier genetic mixture. Well sorry about the excessive science and stuff, for the more laid back reader I say that our culture is structured in such a way that beauty and physical attractiveness are rated very highly and people love to see and admire as what they perceive, beautiful people. This is a list in my opinion of the top 10 most beautiful women in the world at this moment. Well, each and every one of you has their own opinions and likings, but well you’re reading this for a reason weather to get my opinion or just to admire the beauty you get to see. I hope you enjoy this small piece I have to offer you.

Now we are off to a journey to see and find out a little about what in my option are 10 most beautiful women in the world.

most beautiful women

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.