Cruelty free is not what it seems. In fact, cruelty free only means that a brand doesn’t test their products on animals, not that no animals have been harmed in the making of their products. Just because a company has taken the first step in finding alternative methods to testing on animals, that doesn’t mean that they don’t exploit our furry friends in other ways. This makes vegan makeup the only truly cruelty free option!
Here is a list of the most common animal ingredients found in beauty products, with some of the other names they go by, and a short explanation of how they are sourced and used. Please remember that there are plant based and synthetic alternatives to all of these substances! Not one of them is necessary for beautiful skin or beautiful cosmetics. If a product you are looking at buying contains one of the following ingredients that can be derived from either animal, plant or synthetic sources – and it does not specify which the brand uses – please contact them directly to seek further information. If you are based in Australia or New Zealand the facebook group Vegan Beauty Australia and New Zealand (I am one of many dedicated admins!) is a fantastic resource as well.
While the ingredients listed below are a few of the most commonly found ingredients, they are by no means the only ones. I hope that you will find this to be a helpful resource. Bookmark this page if you find it helpful, and please let me know if you would like to see it added to! 🙂
Also known as Albumin
Albumen refers specifically to egg white. Albumin refers to a protein found in egg whites, milk, and blood. Albumen (or albumin) may be used in cosmetics, lotions, hair care, food and wine. Plant sources of albumin do exist, and are also sometimes used in the manufacturing of cosmetics. If an ingredient is listed as “cruelty free albumen” however, this does not indicate that the ingredient is plant based and it is likely from animal sources.
Also known as Cera Alba, Cera Flava, White Wax, or Yellow Wax.
Produced by glands within their abdomen, bees use it to build their hives, store honey, and as protection for larvae. It is found in toothpastes, deodorants, lotions, and cosmetics. Do not confuse with synthetic beeswax which is a fully synthetic, vegan ingredient.
Also known as Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, Natural Colouring, C.I. 75470, or E120.
Simply put, carmine is produced by crushing and boiling the dried bodies of female cochineal insects. Approximately 70,000 bugs are needed to produce a pound (453 grams) of carmine, and it is found in cosmetics, food and beverages.
Also known as Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrolyzed Animal Protein,
Protein usually derived from the bones, skin, and connective tissue of animals however it can be derived from plant sources.
Protein usually derived from the connective tissue of cows and birds, however it can be derived from plant sources.
Protein derived from skin, bone and animal tissue. Usually from cows, pigs, chickens, or fish it is found in cosmetics, food, medicine, vitamins, and photographic film.
Glycerin, Glycerine, Glycerol, Glycerides, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Lauric Acid, Myristic Acid, Oleic Acid, or Palmitic Acid
Can be made from plant or animal sources. When derived from animal sources, it is made by rendering (boiling) body fat from cows, sheep and pigs. These ingredients are found in cosmetics, lotions, balms, toothpaste, and soap.
Also known as Guanin, C.I. 75170, C.I. Natural White 1, Dew Pearl, Guanine Enol, Mearlmaid, or Natural Pearl Essence.
An ingredient made from the scales of fish, crystalline guanine is used as an additive in products to give them a pearly iridescent effect. Found in cosmetics, body and hair care, fragrances, nail products and paints.
Also known as Hydrolyzed Keratin
Protein usually derived from grinding the horns, hooves, feathers, quills, wool and hair of animals. Found in skin, body and hair care. This ingredient can be derived from animal or plant sources.
Also known as Wool Fat, Wool Grease, Wool wax, Amerchol, Anhydrous Lanolin, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Alcohol, or Lanosterols.
A waxy grease extracted from shorn sheep’s wool. It is found in cosmetics, skin, body, and hair care products.
Also known as Musk Oil, or Deer Musk.
A secretion obtained from the scent producing glands of musk deer, beavers, muskrats, civet cats, and otters. These animals are kept in captivity and are whipped close to their genitals so that they produce their scent, which is then extracted directly from the musk gland. Musk is found in perfume. Do not confuse with white musk which is a fully synthetic, vegan ingredient.
Urea, Uric Acid, Allantoin, Urates, Acid Urates, or Imidazolidinyl Urea
If derived from animals these ingredients are extracts from urine, and other bodily fluids. Found in cosmetics, toothpastes, mouthwashes, deodorants, hair colourings, lotions, shampoos, and food. These ingredients can be derived from animal, plant, or synthetic sources.