Is Your Makeup Vegan? Here Are 6 Common Ingredients to Watch Out For

vegan makeup ingredients

When shopping for makeup, the first thing you might do is look for that cute little bunny logo that lets you know a product is cruelty-free. Once you spot it, into the cart it goes. However, that stamp of approval doesn’t mean the makeup is actually vegan. It unfortunately takes a little more digging than that.

Before adding another item to your makeup collection, here are the top non-vegan ingredients to avoid to ensure the products you choose are vegan and cruelty-free.

6 Non-Vegan Makeup Ingredients to Watch Out For

1. Lanolin

Lanolin—a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep—is often found in lip products, such as balms, lipsticks, and lip glosses. Luckily, there are plenty of vegan alternatives on the market, including coconut oil and shea butter.

2. Glycerin

Glycerin is mainly found in lip and eye products and can come from both plant and animal sources—primarily vegetable oil or animal fat. If you want to make sure all your makeup is vegan, it’s best to avoid any product that contains the ingredient unless it specifically says the glycerin is plant-based and/or vegan.

3. Beeswax

Beeswax and other bee-related products—such as honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly—are often found in lipsticks, liquid items, and mascara. The good news is that they’re all easily identifiable on ingredients lists. Just be sure to do a quick scan before purchasing.

4. Guanine

Ever since middle school, I’ve heard a myth that mascara contains bat guano—aka bat poop—as an ingredient. And I’m happy to report that it still is, in fact, only a myth. However, some mascara, lipsticks, and other items do contain guanine, which is a fancy way of referring to crushed-up fish scales. Yep, just as bad.

5. Animal Hair

Makeup brushes are often made using natural bristles of animal hair—even if they’re labeled cruelty-free. It can be a little confusing, but that simply means there wasn’t any animal testing involved in creating the brushes. They can still be made using animal products, however. Because of that, it’s important to look for the word “synthetic” when shopping for makeup brushes (and even false eyelashes!), which ensures you’re not getting anything made from real fox, goat, horse, mink, and squirrel hair.

6. Carmine

I saved one of the ickiest ingredients for last. Carmine—which comes from crushed female cochineal beetles—is commonly used in food items. But it may surprise you that it’s also in makeup products, too. The ingredient is used for its bright red pigment, so you’ll most often find it in red, pink, or purple lipsticks, blushes, and eyeshadows. When scanning the ingredients, also keep your eyes open for some of its other names as well: natural red 4, cochineal, or E120.

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