Going vegan isn’t easy. Whether you’re cutting dairy out of your diet or are looking to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, it takes time to learn the ingredients to avoid and the brands to look out for.
I’ve been vegetarian since I was six years old and while it might not have been an ethical decision at the time, it’s become one since. I’ve stopped buying leather and animal by-products and ever since I wrote this feature for InStyle nearly a year ago I made a choice to only buy toiletries and make-up from cruelty-free brands.
That’s also what spurred me on to start this blog, as I continue to be amazed by the amount of brands and products that prove living an ethical lifestyle doesn’t have to mean giving up on your personal style.
For something a little different this week, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned since switching to a vegan and cruelty-free beauty routine, both the good and the bad:
- There are way more vegan brands than you think. When I started researching VCF options, I thought I’d be able to definitively list each and every vegan option available. Now, I think I’d be lucky to know even 20% of VCF beauty products and toiletries that are out there in the world. From the big brands I never expected to have ethics (looking at you Urban Decay and Illamasqua) to the indie brands championing knowing exactly what you’re putting on your skin and where it came from (shout out Clean Beauty Co), there are heaps of options to suit every style and budget. You’ll soon find your favourites.
- Vegan beauty is smashing the stereotype. Again when I first started out on this journey, I expected to be faced with a wall of peachy shades of nude and brown powder mascara, so it was great to see brands like Kat Von D, Spectrum and Ouai catering to the more expressive end of the spectrum. Choosing to prioritise animal rights over your own individual style shouldn’t stop you from playing with colour or the latest trends and innovations in hair, beauty and body.
- Google is your best friend. Being able to spot what’s vegan in an instant might come naturally after a few months of down the line, but at first you will need to double-check statements on animal testing (don’t fall for that ‘required by law’ crap), decide your stance on parent companies and decode scientific-sounding names for animal by-products. This can be time consuming, but once you start to recognise the brands you can trust and the ingredients likely to be hiding in certain products, things will get easier – it’s all about education.
- You have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince(ss). If your old faithful products are now banished, it might take some time to find new products that cater to your specific needs. Until I finally tried Kat Von D’s Ink Liner (yes, I prefer it to her Tattoo Liner!) and Studded Kiss or Everlasting Liquid lipsticks, I struggled to find pigmented products for my eyes and lips. The same for my curly, frizzy hair – it took time to find my favourite Ouai Curl range and Phil Smith’s more affordable options.
- There’s nothing wrong with taking things slowly. I really don’t like how intense some people in the vegan community can be, pressuring those who are transitioning to give up everything all in one go. While I stick to as many vegan products as I can, I’m still trying to use up the products I had before I made the switch that couldn’t be donated to a women’s shelter through an organisation like Give & Makeup. Take things at your own pace and swap one product at a time if you need to.
- Brands don’t always shout about their credentials. While some brands like Original Source, Superdrug and Barry M are great at clearly stating their stance against animal testing and which products are vegan, some keep the fact a little bit quieter. You might be surprised at who does and doesn’t test on animals (Simple, for all their advertising, do, whereas Too Faced, Marc Jacobs beauty and Nars don’t), so read the back of the packaging but don’t make any assumptions.
- Your mindset changes. One of my main concerns when switching to a vegan beauty routine was that I’d find it difficult to give up certain brands like Rimmel and Aussie, but ever since I’ve started thinking more about where these products come from and their ingredients, I now find it quite vulgar to see so many people not spare a thought for the mutilated and tortured animals that suffered for a lipstick or shampoo.
- Is all-natural all that? Vegan beauty can go hand-in-hand with natural, organic ingredients and at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wanted the blackest eyeliner, the reddest lipstick and oil-controlling face wash and I wasn’t confident that cruelty-free beauty would solve those problems for me. However I’ve definitely proved wrong by the likes of Beauty Without Cruelty, OCC and, of course, Kat Von D, and all this thinking about ingredients in my products has actually made me realise that I should be more concerned about what I’m putting on my skin. Clean Beauty Co, Odylique, Evolve Beauty and Sukin have shown me that I can still get results without any chemical nasties.
That turned out to be a longer post than I expected! Do tell me if you enjoyed this week’s blog in the comments, I thought I’d write something a little different over the Bank Holiday weekend, so let me know if you want to see a similar post for shopping vegan fashion soon. See you next week!