If you’re vegetarian or vegan, watching your diet can be challenging enough. You have to read food labels carefully to make sure that you’re not accidentally eating milk whey, eggs, or other animal-derived products. You can only use certain kinds of protein powder, and even eating honey can be tricky territory. The vigilance expands beyond what you eat to what you wear (buh-bye, leather) and even how you decorate your home (soy wax candles, FTW). But beauty products are safe…right?
Wrong, unfortunately. Not only do animals often undergo harmful procedures during product testing, per the Humane Society of the United States, there are also animal products hidden in plain sight in many beauty products—especially lipsticks. That’s because many lipsticks get their shades and moisturizing benefits from animal-derived ingredients that have cringeworthy origins (like crushed-up beetles and fish scales). Eww.
We got the scoop on some of the most surprising lipstick ingredients derived from our precious furry friends, as well as some great vegan alternatives that don’t have creepy ingredients:
Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein that is the building block of skin, and helps repair wounds and keep skin supple. But most collagen used in beauty products is derived from the connective tissue of animals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “Did you ever eat a whole chicken, and attached to the bone is this springy white stuff that’s not bone but it’s not flesh? That’s mostly collagen,” says Patrick Di Justo, author of This is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? There are plant-derived collagens available on the market, but it’s hard to tell the difference on the label.
Guanine is a naturally-occurring protein that is used as a sparkly pigment in body products like shampoo as well as makeup, according to the EWG. However, Di Justo says that it’s derived from fish scales. Alternatives for guanine include synthetic pearl or aluminum and bronze particles.
Having trouble finding a neutral lip color? Try this:
Tallow is made from rendered beef fat (yum?), according to the EWG and can be found in candles and soaps as well as lipsticks. It also can go by the names sodium tallowate, tallow acid, tallow amide, tallow amine, talloweth-6, tallow glycerides, and tallow imidazoline. Di Justo says that he’s unaware of health problems related to using tallow in beauty products. “Of course, you’re rubbing cow fat on your skin, which is kind of gross,” he says. Alternatives for tallow include vegetable tallow, Japan tallow, and paraffin.
Lanolin is a “refined derivative of the fat-like sebaceous secretion of sheep,” according to the EWG. Translation? Sheep grease. “You know how if you don’t wash your hair it gets greasy? Well, sheep don’t wash their wool, and it gets greasy. It helps keep their wool waterproof,” says Di Justo. It’s used as a moisturizer and as a preservative, and is also an allergen. Alternatives include vegetable and plant oils, such as coconut oil.
A common ingredient that also known as carmine or natural red 4, chochineal dye is made from the scales of tiny insects that live on cactus, says Di Justo. It creates a vivid red color in lipsticks as well as in food and clothing, according to the EWG. It is an allergen, although reactions are rare. Alternatives to cochineal dye according to the EWG include beets, annatto, and alkanet.
Luckily, there’s no need to eschew the perfect pout. Before your next trip to Sephora, check out this list of makeup companies from PETA that are cruelty-free (meaning they don’t test on animals) and vegan (meaning they have no animal-derived ingredients like the stuff up above!) And here are some great animal-free lip products you can slather on with abandon:
Axiology Organic Lipstick in Devotion ($30, shop.womenshealthmag.com)
This beautiful lipstick is certified cruelty-free by PETA and made with organic avocado oil, organic coconut oil, and vitamin E.
Clove + Hallow Lip Glaze in Spicy ($13, cloveandhallow.com)
This gorgeous gloss is one of our 2017 Beauty Award winners, and glides on super smoothly.
Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Sheer F-Bomb ($22, urbandecay.com)
This is one of the many items from Urban Decay that are vegan (you can scroll through them all here), and it’s currently on-sale.
Source: Women’s Health Mag