You’ve cleaned out your fridge and pantry, sold your fur coat, and given away the leather shoes you had lying around in your closet. After scouring your house for anything that might contain animal products, you’re confident that you can finally start living the vegan lifestyle. You’ve heard of vegan makeup, but that just sounds like a gimmick. How could makeup possibly contain animal products? It’s all made from artificial chemicals that were synthesized in a lab. Do you really have to sort through your entire makeup collection?
In fact, many lipsticks contain ingredients that were derived from animals, including bees, sheep, sharks, and even beetles. Some brands infamously test their products on animals, while others harvest plant-based oils from unsustainable sources that end up destroying the environment. As much as the beauty industry is marketed as a “safe” industry, it’s just as cruel and harmful as any other business. Even brands who claim to be cruelty-free often work with suppliers who abuse animals for other products.
Fortunately, vegan lipsticks are relatively affordable and easy to find. You might have some in your collection already. So before you throw out your entire makeup tray, do some research and figure out which brands are cruelty-free and which ones aren’t. And when you’re ready to refresh your collection, a world of vegan lipsticks is only a Google search away.
Why Should I Switch to a Vegan Alternative to Lipstick?
While the beauty industry might not be as outright cruel as the meat or dairy industries, plenty of animals are still mistreated behind the scenes. A surprising source of animal cruelty is the manufacture of carmine. Carmine is a red powder that’s mixed in with lipstick for that classic seductive red. Surely it’s a color that was made in a lab? In fact, carmine is made from hundreds of tiny beetles that were harvested from a prickly pear cactus. The beetles are dried out and crushed into a bright red powder, which is then used as a dye.
Yes, you read that right–you’ve been smearing crushed beetles on your lips. The dye is also used in other makeup products, including blush and eyeshadow.
Many lipsticks also contain beeswax that was harvested right from the honeycomb. Bee farming might not seem unethical–if bees produce the wax anyway, why not take it from them? But some commercial farms use unsafe methods that end up killing bees in the process. Additionally, beeswax wasn’t made for us, and it’s not right for humans to take what isn’t ours.
Lanolin is another common ingredient that’s used in non-vegan lipstick. Lanolin is a greasy substance that’s secreted from the sweat glands of sheep to protect them from harsh weather. To collect the lanolin, the farmers treat freshly shorn wool with a hot detergent solution and harvest the lanolin with a centrifuge. Shearing sheep isn’t inherently cruel, but commercial farms tend to shear the sheep carelessly, often slicing their skin in the process. Sheep are repeatedly mutilated without pain relief or anesthetic, and when they’re no longer good for producing wool, they’re shipped off to the slaughterhouse and have their throats slashed while they’re still alive.
What is Vegan Lipstick Made From?
If you’ve had enough of smearing sheep sweat and crushed beetles on your lips, you can find dozens of cruelty-free lipsticks that are made from safe, all-natural ingredients. Vegan lipsticks are typically made from plant-based ingredients like palm oil, sunflower seed oil, candelilla wax, kokum butter, hemp seed oil, neem oil, essential oils, and flower extracts. Many brands also harvest their ingredients directly from the source, using sustainable methods that won’t harm the environment.
Is Vegan Red Lipstick Just as Good as Traditional Lipstick?
Vegan lipstick is just as good as traditional lipstick, if not better. In fact, it’s so close to the “real” thing that you probably won’t even notice the difference. Vegan makeup products are just as bright and vibrant, with a whole spectrum of color choices on the market. You won’t have to settle for a few basic reds and pinks–there’s a color on the market to match just about every piece in your wardrobe. Vegan lipsticks go on just as smoothly as non-vegan lipsticks, and they offer durable, long-lasting protection. And contrary to popular belief, they’re not more expensive. You can buy vegan makeup products for the same price as non-vegan products.
Additionally, vegan makeup is typically healthier than non-vegan makeup. Traditional makeup is made from harsh chemicals, additives, and preservatives that can be toxic to humans if consumed. A small amount won’t kill you, but if you wear lipstick every day, you’re unknowingly slipping toxins into your body. Conversely, most vegan products are made from plant-based waxes and oils that are gentle and safe, and contain no risks or side effects. Some vegan brands are even infused with vitamins and natural moisturizers to keep your lips full and healthy.
How Do I Know That I’m Buying a Vegan Product?
Some brands don’t clearly spell out whether their lipstick is vegan or not. If you can’t find a clear answer, assume that it isn’t. However, most brands have a list of ingredients on their website. Be aware of ingredients that sound harmless: for example, sqaulene is a popular lipstick ingredient that’s harvested from shark livers. Vegan products are typically made from plant-based ingredients like flower extracts and essential oils. Some brands even have a page that lists the sources of their ingredients, so you know exactly how your lipstick was made and where it came from.
While most vegan brands use ethical practices, some source their ingredients from shady manufacturers who use unsustainable methods. For example, palm oil–a common ingredient for vegan lipsticks–can be harvested in ways that aren’t safe for the environment. Before you make a purchase, do some research and make sure that you’re buying from an ethical vegan company.
Additionally, some brands offer a mixture of both vegan and non-vegan products. If you buy vegan makeup from these brands, you’re still funding their non-vegan business practices. You also can’t be sure that their cruelty-free products are actually cruelty-free–if anything, they’re probably manufactured in the same factory that also processes animal products. Make sure you’re buying from a brand that’s exclusively vegan, and not a combination of the two.
Where Can I Find Vegan Lipsticks?
With the booming popularity of the vegan lifestyle, vegan lipsticks are now offered in several major retail stores. Grocery stores don’t always carry vegan options, but you might be able to find vegan products at makeup stores like Sephora or Ulta. If you don’t have any luck, you can also go online and have vegan lipsticks delivered right to your door.
When you do a Google search for “vegan lipsticks,” dozens of brands pop up. This can be a little overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of the best vegan lipsticks on the Internet. Our list is compiled and peer-reviewed by vegans just like you who have used these products in the past. Once you get started, you can rate our selections and even add your own favorites. Sign up today and start participating in our community!