Happy Herbivore Blog

Vegan Make-Up (Get the Glam)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQGuests

I'm always getting questions about make up and skin care and since I don't really wear make up and my skin care routine is washing my face with baking soda (try it - it works!) I thought I'd solicit advice from my lovely friend Gin who is a professional makeup artist and owns her mobile beauty studio, Edgy Elegance. 

My name is Gin and I’ve been a makeup artist for over 20 years and vegan for 11 years. When Lindsay asked me if I would write a blog post about vegan makeup for Happy Herbivore I was honored. Then I was immediately overwhelmed. Whether you realize it or not, makeup is a big topic because when talking about makeup, you MUST also talk about skincare. First, on to the makeup!

Being vegan doesn’t have to mean being a Birkenstock wearing, nekkid-faced hippie. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) but it’s possible to be vegan and get your glam on at the same time! Cruelty-free has become chic and it looks lovely! 

Let’s start by talking ingredients…I could go on for days on this topic, but here is my abridged version: 

Carmine: used for coloring things like lipglosses and lipsticks. Made of ground up beetles. Some vegans I know aren’t bothered by this but I prefer my cosmetics to be beetle free. 

Bismuth Oxychloride: found in a popular brand of mineral makeup, Bismuth oxychloride is a cousin to formaldehyde. Under a microscope is looks like the burrs that attach themselves to your clothing when you are walking at the beach or in high grassy areas. When “buffing” the makeup onto your skin you are grinding these spiny burrs into your skin, therefore causing micro-tears in the skin and opening yourself up to invasive bacteria and infection. (ie acne etc). 

Allantoin: this can be derived from plants but usually comes from cows. Used as an emollient When in doubt, opt out.

FD&C/D&C: dyes used to color cosmetics (eyeshadows, foundations, blushes, lip products etc). These dyes have carcinogenic properties and are continuously tested on animals. (as in the animals are given daily doses of these dyes to see how fast they develop cancer…not IF they will but how soon its developed and how much was ingested before they got sick. 

Oleic Acid: used in lipsticks. This is simply animal fat. Ew.

Squalene: Shark liver oil…look for the olive derived version.

I could write a book on ingredients but thankfully I don’t have to. PETA has a list and app! 

As an FYI: Cosmetics Companies that have pledged to be cruelty-free (no animal testing) are usually marked with a bunny. Certified vegan products will have a v in a circle. Not all vegan cosmetics/cosmetics are CERTIFIED vegan though, so get to know your ingredients and don’t let the symbols be your only guide. You will miss out on some amazing brands that way.

A big problem with vegan makeup is that, while it is cruelty-free, it delivers little or no bang for the buck. I’m talking color payoff here! Several brands are very muted on the skin; even with layering it can still be faint. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking natural too, but when I want to wear color, I WANT to wear COLOR! Color is fun and can enhance a look, be glamorous or even subdued if applied properly.

Enter Urban Decay, a cosmetic company that took the guess work out of their products. All of their vegan products at Sephora are marked with a paw print! Some colors that I love though, like purple, aren’t vegan so make sure to look for the paw.

I also recently discovered an amazing line of cosmetics called Motives by Loren Ridinger. It’s the makeup that JLO wears and I have a letter from the company stating that the products contain no animal by-products and are not tested on animals. It has twice the pigment of a popular artistry brand, proving that vegan makeup can be bold and pigmented too! Basically, its luxury make up at far less than luxury prices! It’s also high definition and mineral based and can be custom blended in liquid and mineral powder form not just to your skin tone but to your skin TYPE (oily/dry) and CONCERN (aging/hyperpigmentation) as well. It is truly an incredible brand and I highly recommend it. 

MAC is a very popular cosmetic line that originated in Canada. It is known to have high pigment and is used in the entertainment industry. Some of their products are vegan and they do not do animal testing.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics is another vegan brand. They have wonderful products that are nicely pigmented. They wear well and are long lasting…a win! 

Many companies are making the move to being cruelty-free and PETA also keeps a list of those (download here). Important Note: Some cosmetics companies that ‘don’t test on animals’ are owned by companies that do. PETA also has a list of companies that DO test on animals and companies that are OWNED by companies that test on animals (download here).

These lists may make you rethink the products that you use and it may be an inconvenience at first, but when it is all said and done, you are helping to save lives. 

Take some time to educate yourself and if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up and most of all, have fun! Remember, in the end, its only lipstick!

Come back in a few days to catch Gin's follow-up post on skin care!

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