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Am I mistaken or vegan cosmetics are becoming as popular as organic? when I go to green trade shows I see exhibitors promoting the vegan concept growing like mushrooms. In fact there is an increase in demand in vegan cosmetics. As a cosmetic formulator I wonder about the limitations and possibilities in formulating vegan cosmetics (vegan cosmetics do not mean 100% natural or organic necessarily). Here I m going to explore the animal derived ingredients that are out for vegan and natural cosmetics.

Animal derived emollients

Lanolin and its derivatives: lanolin is a very good emollient, with a rich protective effect for the skin. There are several alternatives on the market, they are not exactly like it, but creating a synergistic blend of cosmetic ingredients does the trick

Emu oil: this is a unique oil with a characteristic composition. No alternative available.

Squalane and squalene: present in the skin sebum. Can be obtained from liver shark or olives.

Animal derived emulsifiers

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: used in food applications and very mild. Natural vegan alternative: yes, using different emulsifiers (plenty of choice)

Lecithin: very nice multifunctional emulsifier, can be obtained from eggs. Natural vegan alternative: yes lecithin from soy

Animal derived proteins

Keratin protein: used in hair conditioners and treatments. There are vegetable proteins available with different properies and effects

Milk protein: skin conditioner. There are vegetable proteins with excellent skin conditioning properties

Silk protein (sericin): excellent skin conditioner. Natural vegan alternatives, yes with similar properties

Animal wax

Beeswax: beautiful and versatile wax. Natural and vegan alternatives: yes, for example candelilla wax

Film formers and resins
Chitin or chitosan (derived from crabs): a very interesting ingredient with amazing skin benefits. Natural vegan alternative: depending on the application

Shellac (derived from laccifer insect): a great resin, no natural vegan alternatives available

 Animal derived moisturisers

Lactic acid:  present in the natural moisturising factor and usually available derived from milk. Alternative: corn derived lactic acid

Honey: rich in hydrating sugars. Nothing like it

Hyaluronic acid: can be derived synthetically or from chickens. Alternative available: yes, from corn fermentation

Snail slime: one of the modern skin heroes. Natural alternative available: yes by clever mixing of natural and vegan cosmetic ingredients.

Animal derived colours and fragrance

Carmine or cochineal: beautiful rich red colours derived from the insect coccus cacti. Vegan natural alternatives: yes form plant extracts and minerals depending on the application

Musk: used as a based note in perfumery. Natural plant alternatives available

Feel free to share your favourite vegan cosmetic ingredient!