It’s National Vegetarian Week and more people than ever are cutting down the number of animal products they consume and switching to a plant-based diet. According to the Vegan Society, veganism is now one of Britain’s “fastest growing lifestyle movements”, with the number of vegans in the UK rising by more than 360% over the past decade.
While many of us are aware of the negative impact the meat, dairy and egg industry can have on the environment, animal welfare and even our health, some people may not apply the same logic to animal-derived ingredients used in the beauty industry.
To mark National Vegetarian Week, we’re highlighting some of the non-vegetarian ingredients that are used in the cosmetics industry. Read on to discover which products may contain unexpected animal ingredients and what plant-based alternatives we use in our vegetarian and vegan beauty products.
Also known as ‘cochineal’, ‘natural red 4’, ‘crimson Lake’, or ‘CI 75470’, carmine is a highly pigmented red dye made from crushed female cochineal beetles. It takes 70,000 boiled and crushed beetles to produce 1 pound of red dye, used as a food colouring and in many cosmetic products such as lipstick, eyeshadow and nail varnish. The high demand for carmine has resulted in industrial scale cochineal beetle farming; Peru produces around 850 metric tonnes of carmine a year.
Green People make-up is carmine-free and uses natural earth mineral pigments like Mica and Titanium dioxide to create flattering hues for your eyes, lips and cheeks.
This controversial ingredient started as a Korean beauty trend and has made its way into some products on the British high street. Brands using snail secretion may claim that it is harvested humanely; however the snails are reportedly caused stress to make them produce larger amounts of secretion, which the animals produce as a response to feeling threatened. This slippery ingredient is sometimes added to moisturisers, serums, face masks and foundations, with claims that it helps to reduce wrinkles.
In fact, there are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives to snail secretion, which has no clinically proven anti-ageing benefits. Baicalin, an extract from the baical skullcap plant, is clinically proven to restrict the activity of the enzyme telomerase. Telomerase is responsible for the breakdown of collagen, so by restricting its activity, you can reduce collagen breakdown considerably and keep skin plump and smooth for longer. Find Baicalin in Green People’s Rejuvenating Eye Cream and Vita Min Fix moisturiser.
Tallow is a by-product from the meat industry and is used in some cosmetics such as hard soaps, lipsticks and shaving creams as a cheap emollient and skin conditioning agent. Tallow is a fat derived from the fatty tissue of sheep or cattle and may be linked to skin conditions such as eczema. This animal-derived ingredient hit headlines recently after it was revealed that tallow is used in the production of the new £5 note, creating problems for vegans and people from certain religious groups.
Thankfully, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives that don’t pose a risk for people with eczema. Olive oil, almond oil and coconut oil all have excellent skin-conditioning effects and are suitable for sensitive skin.
You may be used to seeing gelatine on the ingredients list of desserts such as mousse and jelly, but did you know that it’s also used as a thickener in some hair care products, face masks and other cosmetics? Gelatine is a protein that is obtained by boiling animal carcasses with water.
If you wish to avoid using products containing gelatine, Green People products contain natural, plant-based thickening agents that have additional benefits for your skin and hair.
Used in some balms and salves for its moisture locking properties, lanolin (or wool wax) is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep and other wool-bearing animals. Cosmetic grade Lanolin can be contaminated with carcinogenic pesticides such as DDT, Dieldrin and Lindane and a small percentage of the population are sensitive to lanolin.
Instead of Lanolin, Green People uses natural plant waxes such as Berry wax and Carnauba wax, which are naturally nourishing, protective and reduce trans-epidermal water loss.
Hair treatments containing keratin are increasing in popularity as people seek out smoother, silkier and stronger hair. Keratin is a protein that is a key structural component of human hair and nails, but when used in hair care products it is extracted from ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills and hair of various animals.
You don’t need added keratin to get gorgeously smooth locks, Quinoa protein has been proven to increase shine by over 50% and helps to smooth the hair cuticle, thereby reducing frizz. Find it in our Quinoa & Artichoke Shampoo and Conditioner, which is suitable for all hair types and beautifully scented with natural Ginger and Sweet Orange.
Squalene is derived from the livers of deep sea sharks, which are threatened with extinction due to aggressive hunting, their slow growth and low number of offspring they produce. This controversial ingredient has been phased out by some cosmetics brands due to pressure from marine scientists and ethical-minded consumers, but there are still some which continue to include it in moisturisers and other skin care products.
Green People products never contain shark-derived squalene, instead we use an extract called 'Squalane', which is derived from Olive and is converted by the body into Squalene, helping to keep your skin moisturised and healthy.