If you don't wear animals on your body, chances are you're loath to smear one on your face. And even if an animal byproduct isn't used in a moisturizer or a blush, those who don't eat or wear products of any kind from beings that walk, fly or swim have another concern. They want to know that the goods they use weren't tested on animals. Satisfying the demand for products that fit those descriptions is an uber-niche market in the cosmetics industry: vegan beauty products.
An extension of so-called natural beauty products, which largely eschew petrochemical ingredients, vegan items restrict their ingredient lists even further by prohibiting beeswax (which is often used in lip balms and mascaras), milk (found in soaps), collagen (a skin strengthener derived from cows), carmine (a colorant that comes from beetle shells) -- even the animal hairs that are used in the applicator brushes that accompany many products.
"What you're eating reflects on your skin, and if you do all this stuff to eat vegan, then it makes sense that you'd use good things on your body," said Joni Keim, head of product development for Beauty Without Cruelty, a vegan beauty line in Petaluma.
At Beauty Without Cruelty, being animal-free means using herbal extracts for cleansing and essential oils for fragrance. At Ecco Bella, a "mostly vegan" beauty product line based in New Jersey, the substitutes for animal ingredients include iron oxides for pigments, coconut and other non-animal-derived oils for cleansing and moisturizing, and sea algae and marigold extracts for anti-aging products. At Zuzu Luxe, a vegan cosmetics company in Bellevue, Wash., candelilla, rather than beeswax is used in mascaras, and mica, zinc oxides and iron oxides substitute for the colors many other product lines derive from carmine, or beetle shells.