By Lauren Liebow

        Veganism recently rose to the spotlight after countless news sources attributed the 2019 surge in Amazon Rainforest fires to the meat industry. Although blaming non-vegans for environmental erosion provides an easy scapegoat, it marginalizes people who live in communities without the access to fresh ingredients or time-intensive labor typically necessary to sustain a vegan lifestyle. However, for those who hold purchasing power in the beauty industry, perhaps it might be time to reevaluate the brands we love, and consider the environmental implications of the products we support.

       Most makeup contains tallow, a byproduct of animal fat, rendered to create a smooth, moisturizing component of cosmetic products. It’s organic compounds give it the qualities we love in natural, glowing makeup looks. Nail polish and mascara contain finely ground fish scales. Lipstick production uses lanolin, crushed insects, and shark liver oil called squalene. Animal testing has long proven cruel, subjecting rodents to harsh chemicals during the prototype process of makeup production. The beauty industry thrived off these formulas in less environmentally-friendly generations which cared about profit and customer reliability more than ethical means of production.

      But if you’re searching for an alternative, the industry uses a lot of coded language to gain customer loyalty. To break it down:  Labels like “No Animal Ingredients,” or “Vegetarian” means that products from animals are not used, but does not guarantee whether the makeup was tested on any animals. Furthermore, the legitimacy of this label is often misused, since makeup companies can choose what they consider an “animal product.” Cruelty-free brands typically only indicate that the products did not test on any animals, yet there still exists no method of standardization to regulate the terms of these labels. Vegan brands have certain certifications that can verify the legitimacy of its claims. PETA-verified brands require a written statement detailing the production process. CCF (Choose Cruelty Free) -verified products require an accreditation process for the entire company and any parent companies to earn the label. The Leaping Bunny logo does not certify that the product is vegan, but does confirm that the company does not conduct any form of animal testing. Certified Vegan and brands verified by the Vegan Society are the most reliable labels for products free of animal cruelty.

       Today’s beauty landscape features socially-conscious brands taking over the industry with missions to produce more wholesome products with a consciousness for the limited natural resources around us. Whether vegan product lines are actually beneficial for skin and overall health in the long run is yet unconfirmed by scientific studies. Depending on personal reasons for going vegan, different product labels might affect the brands you prefer. The links below provide more information and context to help you pick the best brands for your lifestyle.