Cruel Cosmetics? Animal Ingredients to Look Out For in Beauty/Body Products

Updated: Mar 2, 2019

The beauty industry has become infamous for animal testing. And while none of us want to be supporting that, there is another way animals are being exploited in cosmetics. Products aren’t just tested on animals, but MADE FROM THEM. That leaping bunny on your mascara doesn’t necessarily signify the product is free from animal exploitation, only that it wasn’t tested on them. This is why buying vegan makeup is a game changer, because it actually means no animals were harmed OR used.

As a vegetarian, vegan, someone who cares about animals, or for personal religious reasons its important to be on HIGH ALERT whenever shopping (for any products really!) Sadly, almost all consumer industries are based off of the exploitation of animals. The worst part is, we don’t know what we are buying and using most of the time!

This is a topic that really hits home for me, because it was my BLINDSPOT! For at least the first year of me going vegetarian, it never even crossed my mind to look beyond food, and look out for the other products I was using on my body and face! There are so many alternatives to killing animals for use in cosmetics. Every dollar you spend can be a vote for the cruelty-free industry instead of supporting needless violence.

While there are endless “secret” ingredients to look out for, I’m going to share some of the most common and disgusting animal ingredients which you’ll find in most cosmetics and beauty products. If you can remember these, it will help you to become a more conscious consumer. That being said, the best thing to do is have your go-to list of ALL UNSAFE ingredients saved in your phone. I personally use PETA lists because I really trust their authenticity. One thing to note: not only are these products nonvegan, they are not considered vegetarian, as the animals are killed to extract them. They are not animal bi-products, they are animal parts. Here are the most common ones to look out for:

  1. Collagen/Elastin: animal tissues, most often found in rejuvenating products

  2. Guanine: fish scales, gives shimmer to eyeshadows, lipglosses, etc

  3. Tallow: rendered animal fat, in many cosmetics

  4. Gelatin: animal bones, hooves, ligaments, tendons, very common

  5. Ambergris: stomach lining of whales, used in perfumes

  6. Musk/Civet: from male deers and large cats, used in perfumes

  7. Estrogen: extracted from urine of pregnant horses, in anti-aging products

  8. Carmine: red colouring from cochineal beetles, in lipsticks and more

  9. Squalene: extracted from shark livers

  10. Keratin: ground hair, hooves, feathers of animals, used in many hair products

  11. Lanolin: excrete from sheep’s skin, used in soaps and more

  12. Hyaluronic Acid: from umbilical cord and other animal parts

  13. Stearic Acid: derived from animal fat of cows, pigs, and even euthanised dogs and cats

  14. Castoreum: scent derived from anus of beavers, used in perfumes

  15. Shellac: beetle excretions, used for shine in nail polish and more

At this point, you might be thinking, “That sounds like a lot of work Prasiddha. If I’m being honest with myself I’m probably not going to go to all that trouble.” AND THATS OK. I don’t blame you at all! I felt the exact same way! That’s why my best friend and I decided to do something about it. This is how Radiant Roots was born. The one stop shop, the online marketplace for sustainable, veg beauty. Where you don’t have to do ANY WORK OR RESEARCH. Just freely shop, knowing you’re helping save lives and the planet! If you like to go out shopping, make your life easier and know the brands you can trust. Then, you don’t have to spend hours reading the back of every foundation or face wash.

I hope this article was helpful for all you conscious beauties out there! Just remember, every step counts. Every purchase counts. So thank you for even taking the time to research. We at Radiant Roots know how hard it can be venturing into these unknown worlds—true sustainability, true love for animals, true care for our skin—can be. We are here to make it a little easier. May we all keep evolving consciously together! xoxo

PETA’s Comprehensive List:


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