5 Common Animal Ingredients used in Cosmetics

If you’re serious about preventing animal cruelty and avoiding animal products, then chances are you’ve already had a good long think about the costmetics and skin care you use and the ingredients they contain.

Major cosmetics companies don’t have the best track record when it comes to animal cruelty. They have long been associated with animal testing, as well as the use of less than ethical animal derived ingredients.

Over the years, this has changed as consumers have become more conscious about their purchase choices and more interested in searching out ethical alternatives like natural or vegan skin care products. Cosmetic companies now go to great lengths to avoid any accusations of animal cruelty. However, many cosmetic and skin care products still contain animal products.

Whether you’re a vegan or you are just an ethical consumer looking to minimise your use of animal products, here are 5 of the more common animal products used in cosmetics or skin care products.

  1. Bee products
natural skin care products

A range of bee products are used in dermatological, skincare and cosmetic products. These include honey, propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen, bee bread, beeswax and bee venom. Bee products are often found in lip balms, anti-aging skins creams and moisturisers.

The good news is that most bee products can be easily replaced by vegan alternatives. For example, beeswax can be replaced with candelilla wax and vegetable glycerine substituted for honey.

  1. Lanolin
natural skin care products

Lanolin is an oil naturally secreted from sheep skin. It’s also known as wool fat, wool yolk, wool wax, or wool grease. Lanolin is extracted by putting sheep’s wool through a centrifuge machine designed to separate the oil from the wool.

Lanolin is a natural emollient that can be used to trap moisture in skin and hair. It is generally used in products for its ability to hydrate and soften.

Lanolin is commonly used in a range of cosmetic and skincare products including lip balm, shampoo, moisturisers, and anti-aging creams.

Besides being an animal product, lanolin can also cause allergic reactions in those with wool allergies.

Lanolin-free vegan skin care alternatives generally include plant oils like organic raw coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and rice bran oil.

  1. Tallow
natural skin care products

Tallow is rendered beef or mutton fat. Common cosmetic ingredients like glycerin and oleic acid can be extracted from tallow. It has been traditionally used in a range of cosmetic products including eye makeup, lipsticks, makeup bases and foundations, shampoos, soaps, shaving creams, moisturisers and skin care products.

Tallow is definitely not a cruelty-free product since the fat can only be extracted and rendered once the animal is dead. While most major cosmetic brands have moved away from the use of tallow, it can still be found in various cosmetics.

Vegan skin care alternatives to tallow include vegetable glycerin and plant-derived oleic acid from olives and coconuts.

  1. Keratin
natural skin care products

Keratin is a natural protein found in your hair, skin and nails. It is a key structural material for the outer layer of the skin. Keratin is derived from the feathers, horns, hooves and wool of animals.

It is commonly used in skin care and hair care products, especially those designed to improve skin texture and strengthen weak or brittle hair.

Soy protein is often used as a vegan alternative to animal-derived keratin.

  1. Hyaluronic Acid
natural skin care products

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that naturally occurs in the skin. It helps to retain water and keep skin cells lubricated and moist. It can be found in a range of skin care products including serums, sheet masks, and moisturisers.

Commercially produced hyaluronic acid is often derived from rooster combs. However, a vegan friendly alternative can be manufactured via biofermentation.

As consumer preferences have evolved, many cosmetics companies have started substituting animal products for plant-based ingredients. However, that doesn’t mean they have completely eradicated animal products from their products and supply chain. Being informed and aware will help you to make the most ethical product choices and continue pushing cosmetics producers to reduce their reliance on animal products.

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