Loaded with nourishing minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, natural ingredients are power players in any skincare routine (and great for most skin types). While it has taken some time to become recognized by the mainstream beauty industry, the sudden demand for natural ingredients has made finding organic skincare products much easier. However, products labeled “organic” or “all-natural” aren’t always vegan-friendly, which can make it hard to find the right products for your skin type and concerns. Before heading to the natural-beauty aisle, know where to start and what to look for to make your transition from “regular” skincare products to vegan products a rewarding and positive experience.
Just as you check the labels on food items at the grocery store, you should also look at the labels of skincare products. However, it’s not the only place to look. Many vegan brands will likely have a sticker on the front of the packaging that says “cruelty-free” or “vegan,” but it’s still worthwhile to do a little research before buying. Check out the brand’s website to find out about its ingredient sources and production practices. Keep in mind that many ingredient labels can have uncommon names for very common ingredients that are animal by-products, such as propolis and cera flava (both from bees) and lanolin (from sheep’s wool). If you’re unsure of these lesser known ingredient names, you can find help on your smartphone. Several apps are available to help you identify vegan ingredients and read labels by scanning a barcode.
One of the best things about vegan skin care is the minimalist approach it offers to your daily routine. The gentle way natural ingredients cleanse and nourish the skin makes them ideal for all skin types. Sensitive skin types prone to redness and inflammation often benefit from these products, as many natural ingredients are calming on the skin. Rather than using chemicals or soaps that contain animal fats (such as tallow, or oils from turtles) to cleanse your skin, look for alternatives derived from vegetable fats, coconut oil, or almond oil. To choose one for your skin type, remember that oily and acne-prone skin can benefit from oil-absorbing kaolin clays and mineral salts. For normal-to-dry skin types, look for gentle cleansing oils and lotions that contain hydrating rosewater, rosehip seed oil, and coconut oil, along with other essential oils from citrus fruits and lavender.
When looking for a moisturizer to add to your vegan skincare routine, avoid ingredients derived from animal oils, acids, and fats such as stearyl alcohol, stearic acid, and allantoin. Instead, look for products with moisturizing vegetable and plant-derived oils like comfrey, avocado oil, and sunflower seed oil for your hydrating needs. Dry and mature complexions will love the hydrating benefits from shea butter, rosehip oil, olive oil, and hemp seed oil, while oily and combination skin types can benefit from the balancing properties of tea tree oil, lemon oil, and rosemary. If you have sensitive skin, opt for fragrance-free products that feature soothing ingredients such as oatmeal, jojoba oil, aloe vera, lavender, and green tea. All these ingredients can be found packaged in the form of creams, lotions, and oils, so you can easily replace old non-vegan products with natural, cruelty-free counterparts.
Finding natural ingredients that brighten your complexion can be tricky. If you like to exfoliate with an abrasive scrub, avoid products that feature crushed ingredients such as pearl. Even some alpha-hydroxy acids aren’t vegan because they feature stearic acid, which is sourced from animals. To get brightening results that are vegan-friendly, look to natural and gentler alternatives like enzymes from fruit such as pineapple and papaya and skin polishing ingredients like jojoba ester beads. The fruit enzymes and smooth jojoba beads are not only safe for the environment but they can help your skin to feel smooth, tight, and looking bright — all without irritation.
Melissa Federico is a California-based beauty blogger and licensed esthetician who channels her passion for skincare education into her writing for Walgreens.