Belfast Telegraph

How green are your favourite cosmetics?

Vegan beauty is on the up. Katie Wright gets the low-down on avoiding animal products in the make-up department

If you're one of the thousands of people who've decided to cut out meat, dairy, eggs and all other animal-derived foods from your diet, you might not yet have considered that the products on your bathroom shelf don't necessarily adhere to your new lifestyle.

Animal ingredients in cosmetics aren't always easy to spot, but more and more companies are committing to remove them and that can benefit not only those creatures, but also us humans too.

"Choosing cruelty-free skincare is something everyone can do and helps to prevent unnecessary animal suffering," says Charlotte Vohtz, founder of Green People. And if you choose wisely, you won't have to compromise on quality - as long-term #veganlife veterans can attest. Here, Vohtz talks us through the vegan beauty basics, and we round-up the best plant-powered skincare, hair and make-up buys...

What are the benefits of using vegan beauty products?

"Skincare that has been approved by the Vegan Society will not have been tested on animals or contain any animal by-products.

"Green People's vegan range is Vegan Society certified and is also plant-based. This means that each product contains a complex of plant (phyto) actives, which restore the skin's pH and moisture balance, without the need for added harsh chemicals, known to have a detrimental effect on the skin."

Are vegan products better for the environment?

"Animal welfare aside, by simply going cruelty-free, you won't be affecting your environmental impact through your cosmetic choices. To help preserve the planet and support the growth of our natural world, look for products that are certified cruelty-free and organic. This way, you can be sure the products you put on your skin are produced in an environment that won't harm our planet."

What are the most common animal-derived ingredients found in beauty products?

"Some of the most commonly-used animal ingredients are fatty acids derived from tallow or lard. These include stearic acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid, all of which can be extracted from animal fats obtained as slaughter-house by-products.

"Milk is also used as a source of some ingredients that can be used in cosmetics, such as the proteins casein and albumin, and lactic acid, which is sometimes used to adjust the pH balance of skincare products.

"Keratin helps make your nails and hair strong and healthy, but can be derived from ground-up horns, hooves, feathers and animal hair. Love the wobble of your jelly face mask and jelly cleanser? Much like the jelly in desserts, jelly-based skincare can be made of gelatine, obtained by boiling animal carcasses with water."

What are some more unusual ingredients that people might not know come from animal sources?

"As Korean beauty has risen in popularity, so has the use of snail secretion as an anti-ageing ingredient in moisturisers, serums, face masks and foundations. Harvesting the ingredient is thought to cause the snails distress, as they produce secretion as a response to feeling threatened.

"70,000 female cochineal beetles are boiled and crushed to produce one pound of carmine, a red dye which is used in lipsticks, eyeshadows and nail varnishes. Lanolin is a water-repelling ingredient often found in balms and salves, and is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep and other wool-bearing animals.

"Squalene is derived from the livers of deep sea sharks, which are threatened with extinction. It's uncommon to find it in cosmetics today, but can be found in some moisturisers."

What vegan alternatives are used for these ingredients and how do you ensure the quality of the products is maintained?

"The alternative ingredients we use include squalane instead of squalene, quinoa in place of keratin and natural oils in place of tallow.

"We maintain the quality by formulating our products using only certified organic plant actives known for having beneficial properties. We also never compromise the quality of our products by adding synthetic ingredients such as SLS, parabens or silicones."

Belfast Telegraph

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