5 Most Common Animal Ingredients Hidden in Your Makeup

5 Most Common Animal Ingredients Hidden in Your Makeup

   ‍   So you’ve decided to go vegan. You’ve switched your cheesy pizza dinners for cashew cheese, and you bake you’ve finally perfected that cake recipe by replacing eggs with soaked chia seeds. And you only buy non-leather shoes.

Kudos for you! You’re making a difference for your the animals, your body, and the planet.

But wait. Have you checked out your beauty products?

Countless animal by-products are likely hiding in your skin care, makeup, or hair care products -- not to mention tested on animals. You could be spreading everything from muskrat secretions and horse urine to squished bugs all over your beautiful face. Ewww.

We've gathered five of the most common animal ingredients to avoid in your beauty routine. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good place to start.

Top 5 animal ingredients in your beauty regimen

1. Animal Urine

Package Name — urea, carbamide

Truth Urea aka carbamide is often made synthetically or with animal urine, but the packaging does not indicate which one the company used. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be spreading urine on my body or contribute to unnecessary animal suffering that can come with using animal products. There are plenty of cruelty-free, natural ways to condition your skin.

Where is Urea found? Lotion & moisturizer, facial cleansers, foundation, hair care products, lipstick & lip balm, mascara, antiperspirant & deodorant, nail products.

Alternative — Synthetic urea, shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil, avocado oil, and other plant-based skin conditioning products that contain vitamin E.

2. Crushed insects

Package Name — Carminic acid, carmine, carmine lake, E120, natural red 4

Truth —The luscious red that you just smeared on your lips is likely derived from the cochineal insect, a beetle-like insect found on the prickly pear cactus. The little burgundy creepy crawlies are brushed off of the cacti, dried, and then crushed into a fine, red powder. The red powder is commonly mixed with aluminum or calcium salts and then sold for makeup and fabric dye, food coloring, and art supplies.

Where is carmine found? — Lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, nail polish, and other pinkish cosmetics.

Alternative Lycopene or Tomat-O-Red®, red carotene found in red vegetables like tomatoes, red carrots, watermelon, papaya, etc.

3. Crushed bones, hooves, and feathers

Package Name — Keratin, hydrolyzed animal protein, hydrolyzed protein, and any alien sounding name with keratin in it.

Truth - Keratin has become a wildly popular treatment in beauty salons that leaves our hair silky smooth. Many shampoos and conditioners boast this ingredient as a way for you to get that silky hair look at home. Likewise, it is a popular way to strengthen nails.

What they don’t tell you is that you are smearing crushed animals on your hair or nails to get that super sleek sheen or sexy claws.

Where is Keratin found? Hair care products and nail products.

Alternative - Vegekeratin,KeraVeg18, wheat amino acid, soy amino acid, arginine, serine, threonine.

4. Animal skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments

Package Name — Gelatin or collagen

Truth — Gelatin is a protein generally made by boiling cow and pig hooves, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Sometimes horses and fish find their way into the caldron as well. Gelatin or collagen softens the skin, reduces the signs of aging, and strengthens hair and nails with low rate of skin reactions. However, something tells me that the animals react to the harsh treatment they experience.

Where is gelatin found? — Lotion & moisturizer, hair care products, nail products, bath products, anti-aging creams

Alternative — Carrageenan and agar, gelatinous seaweed.

5. Sheep oil glands

Package Name — Lanolin, wool fat, wool wax, lanolin alcohol, lanolin acid, aliphatic alcohol, cholesterin, ester alcohol, isopropyl lanolate, laneth, lanogene, Lanosterols, triterpene alcohols, lanothionine.

Truth Lanolin is a greasy, waxy substance derived from wool.

The waxy substance protects the sheep’s skin from outside elements to keep his or her skin healthy. So it is not surprising that cosmetic manufacturers include it in our beauty products. While the sheep do not need to be slaughtered for wool and their wool grease, they are usually slaughtered for meat at some point in their life. Moreover, it is hard to ensure that the sheep were raised compassionately. Thus, plant-based alternatives look better on your self conscious, thus giving you that internal glow.

Where is lanolin found?— Greasy cosmetics like lipstick, lip balm, lotions, and creams.

Alternative — Coconut oil, shea butter, rice bran oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, soy wax, palm oil, carnauba wax

Whether you're just getting started with veganism or need a refresher, it never hurts to review Peta's list of animal ingredients. Be sure to checkout our latest, cruelty-free cosmetics. If you don't see your favorite vegan brand, be sure to let us know. We're always happy to add more compassionate products to our repertoire for you to enjoy with a good conscience.


“It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.” Joaquin Phoenix
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