When we think Vegan, oftentimes it is related to someone's eating plan. But more recently it has become widely known that Veganism often is extended to personal and beauty products, like skin care. And many skin care product manufacturers have taken note, paying close attention to ingredients lists like never before.
One of the biggest reasons Vegan-friendly personal care products are becoming more popular is due to the increasing number of Vegans in the United States: A U.S. Gallup Poll conducted in 2012 reveals that 5 percent of the population is Vegetarian or Vegan. At first glance that may not sound like much, but in real numbers that comprises 16 million people.
Another reason for the popularity of Vegan-friendly products is likely due to increasing consumer awareness of ethics as it relates to the treatment of animals in manufacturing beauty products.
So what defines a Vegan-friendly beauty product? To analyze that, let's establish the basics of Vegetarianism and Veganism.
What is a Vegan?
Most know that a Vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, such as that which comes from a cow, poultry or pig. This also includes by-products of animal slaughter.
A Vegan is someone who does not eat or use animal products and eliminates consumption or use of anything related to animals. This would include eggs, honey, dairy, gelatin, fur, leather, silk, wool, soaps and cosmetics derived from animal products. There are no animal-derived or animal-produced ingredients in Vegan products.
This contrasts to Vegetarian-friendly products, which would not contain animal ingredients but unlike Vegan, might include animal-produced ingredients like beeswax.
Equally important is the fact that Vegan-friendly products are not tested on animals. One might think in this age of consumer awareness there likely are not many companies that would continue to test on animals. But that is inaccurate.
As of 2016, the list of companies that produce beauty and personal care products and test those products on animals is quite lengthy. It includes hundreds of major and well-known hair care, beauty care and cosmetic brands. A complete list can be found on the website of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Although it isn't required in order to develop or sell beauty products, animal testing is still common in the United States. In fact, tests like skin and eye corrosion and oral and dermal toxicity to assess the safety of products like shampoo, mascara, lipstick and perfume are administered every year on thousands of animals like rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs.
Pain relief is rare and animals used are typically killed at the end of the study.
There are countries with mandatory animal testing for product development and sale, including China. The European Union, however, bans animal testing for cosmetics and its marketing.
Professionals Who Care
Thankfully there are professionals who consider the ethics of animal welfare and animal cruelty in the production of their beauty and personal care products.
Skin care expert and Florida Dermatologist Dr. Michael S. Spicer is one.
"Over 30 years ago I presented a bill to mandate all skin care products have ingredients listed on the container at a model congress for my high school "Law and Politics" class," he said. "In the 80's, animal fat was consistently used in lipstick and animal testing was routine. Back then, and even today, there is no regulation on the ingredients that go into skin care products - and it's buyer beware when it comes to choosing skin care products."
When Dr. Spicer developed his line of skin care products, Épicé Skincare, he researched and vetted all the ingredients to be vegan friendly with no animal testing done.
"I wanted to build trust between Epice and our clients so they know the products are vegan friendly and developed with healthy skin in mind."
The best approach for consumer awareness in purchasing personal care and beauty products is to do simple research.
Read labels and browse the internet if you have questions or concerns about ingredients and animal testing.
Don't assume just because a brand is well marketed on television and magazines, with high name recognition and popularity, that it doesn't test on animals. In the United States, there is a good chance it does.