With all the hype surrounding clean beauty in recent years, great strides have been made in well-formulated, truly clean and proper skin care. We broke up pure beauty in the past, but there can still be a lot of misleading labels and claims out there. We thought it would be helpful to do some work for you and determine exactly what vegan skin care is (and share our favorite vegan brands!). Although vegan products are often associated with the movement of pure beauty, they do not always fall under the same umbrella.
Many brands with labels that are organic, clean, or cruelty-free can use animal-derived ingredients, such as lanolin or beeswax. To make a skin care line completely vegan, these ingredients are often exchanged for effective alternatives to fruit wax or vegetable oils. While it’s hard to understand, with a few key tips it can be pretty easy to spot: many of our favorite brands are vegans. In fact, you probably already have a vegan product or two without realizing it in your current range!
To break all this down, we spoke to Tara Pelletier, the formulator and co-founder of the vegan skin care brand. Meow Meow Tweet to help break down all vegan skin care and help people find the right products as easily as possible. Continue to read everything you need to know about vegan skin care, as well as our top 100 brands of vegan skin care and products from each brand approved by the editor.
What makes a skin care product vegan?
Similar to dietary restrictions, vegan skin care excludes the use of ingredients that come from or are derived from animals. This may contain known skin care ingredients, such as beeswax, collagen, or keratin, even if those ingredients are ethically contained. Pelletier shares for his brand that skin care is a vegan, “not to use animal-derived ingredients in our natural products and make decisions that minimize harm to people, animals and the planet. It is a chosen lifestyle rooted in antispeciesism and respect for all creatures.”
This type of approach extends beyond care components to how these are achieved. Brands like Meow Meow Tweet also choose not to access materials that could harm animal habitats or food sources.
How do you know if a product is vegan?
The easiest way to see a vegan product is with the “Certified Vegan” logo that many vegan skin care products have. But Pelletier encourages you to go beyond that. “Learn to read ingredient labels,” says Pelletier. “First scan the product label and packaging, read the full list of ingredients and find out if any of the ingredients are animal-derived.”
Here’s a scam sheet of common animal-derived ingredients while you’re learning what to look for:
- carmine (dye derived from beetles)
- squalene (search 100% sugar cane squalane instead!)
Are vegan and cruelty free the same?
Vegan means that there are no ingredients derived from animals and animals, which means that the product is not tested with an animal at any stage of product development. As Pelletier warns, “Just because a product is vegan doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tested on animals, so get to know the brand that creates the product. “
What are the benefits of vegan skin care products?
“When a regular beauty has ingredients designed to do a specific job, a plant-based beauty works by combining ingredients that enhance the natural function of your skin,” Pelletier explains. Vegan skin care offers benefits such as promoting kindness and care for animals and reducing environmental damage, but they can focus on plant ingredients that have been used for healing properties for centuries. Many vegan products are rich in vitamins full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and Pelletier explains that “plant lipids and water make your skin cells slippery, hydrated, moisturized and harmless, helping them do what they already know.”
If you are new to beauty cleansing or skin care products, it is important to note that many products have a shorter shelf life because they do not contain synthetic stabilizers and barely refined organic ingredients. Pelletier says most natural beauty products should be purchased and used within three to six months to ensure maximum freshness.
Our 14 favorite brands of vegan skin care:
Daughter of the vine-growers
A longtime favorite of beauty lovers, there’s a good reason Vintner’s Daughter can fit into so many beauty cabinets. Vintner’s Daughter is a luxury and plant-based skin care product created by April Gargiulo and consists of only two products: Active Botanical Serum and Active Treatment Essence. Although designed to work in pairs, each is fine on its own, thanks to formulas that include 22 botanicals and 60+ biousable nutrients. Although the formulations can be complex, the brand’s skin care is simplified and minimal, and you think you really need these two products (as well as a cleanser maybe, of course).
Meow Meow Tweet
With a charming business name that stems from the creator’s love for his cats and birds, co-founders Tara Pelletier and Jeff Kurosaki created their own natural vegan medication after falling in love with natural skin care. From deodorant to scare away non-toxic insects to a full facial regimen, Meow Meow Tweet is committed to creating pure, natural, plant-based and mineral-based formulas. All products are made with organic vegetable oils and butters, steam-distilled and cold-pressed essential oils, and organic vegetable oils or products grown in the wild.
A dermatologist with more than 40 years of experience (Dr. Loretta herself!), This skin care line is cruelty-free, vegan and clean, formulated without sulfate, paraben, artificial coloring or perfume. As skin care is focused on protecting the skin from the environmental factors responsible for aging, Dr. Loretta combines it with medical grade active ingredients and botanical ingredients to make skin healthier and younger.
Grown Alchemist formulates innovative products by combining high quality active ingredients with the help of scientific research and clinical results. Beautiful and minimal brand, these products will not only look nice in your bathroom, they will offer real results as they work with the natural abilities of your body to heal and regenerate.
Inspired by her grandmother’s constant love for the sea (and unable to find formulas that met her standard), Jenefer Palmer set out to create a line of plant-based skin care infused with ocean elements. Cracked with non-toxic and nutritious formulas, they are a favorite from night masks to body balms.
Versed for the latest clean and affordable skin care product, Katherine Power (and founder of the Merit clean makeup line) created it. Sustainably thought out and with a minimal design, Versed is known for offering luxurious results in exchange for a fraction of the cost (and it looks nice while you’re at it).
Launched in 2018, Mara was created with the goal of creating clean and sustainable products based on the power of plants and the sea. Using a proprietary algae blend, clean assets, superfoods and innovative formulas, Mara’s products deliver high-performance results for healthy glowing skin without animal by-products.
The vegan brand launched Jet Lag Mask in 2018 and quickly went from being a single product startup to one of the most sought after beauty brands. Since then, it has expanded into cleansers, moisturizers and body care products, designed with the brand’s stylish pastel-colored Insta brand.
Moon Juice started out as a cold-pressed juice bar to beautifully packaged supplements and adaptogens and eventually to skin care. Its holistic formulas are responsibly picked up, bioactive, and work from the inside out and vice versa, inspiring a holistic sense of balance and well-being.
Starting with a group of couples, olive oil is the basis of Wonder Valley. Their olive oil is harvested by hand and is an expert from our forests in northern California. Taking the eternity of great olive oil as the basis of their products, they have turned it into a nourishing product for your skin.
What celebrities love, True Botanical’s is a natural luxury skin care line based on truly clean Made Safe certified ingredients and products. From serums to facial oils to night masks, True Botanicals promises skin care products that will stimulate collagen products, regulate pigmentation and maintain hydration.
Bite Beauty started with vegan lip products that soften and last butter, and have since expanded to include makeup and skin care. When Agave nectar is replaced by lanolin, the Agave + Intensive Lip Mask is suitable for lip treatments.
If you’re looking for the perfect line of vegan sunscreen and sunscreen, Supergoop! yes. From sunscreens to brightly colored moisturizers, Supergoop! has a full lineup.
Superegg is a brand new vegan skin care product. The ultra-chic brand of the line features round white eggshells filled with powerful skin care properties. Inspired by Korean upbringing and the role that eggs played in these beauty rituals, Erica Choik created Superegg with vegan and clean ingredients to recreate the skin care benefits of eggs.