15 Non-Vegan Ingredients To Avoid In Your Skincare

It is crazy to think that a lot of the popular and high street beauty and skincare products are not vegan, especially when there are so many plant-based alternatives.

Obviously everything at The Kind Store is vegan but we wanted to share our passion with you in purchasing vegan-friendly products and help you discover which ingredients to avoid. We fully appreciate through years of research ourselves, just how hard companies make it for us to understand their ingredient list, so we hope to shed some light on this to make it easier for you! 

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Shop our full range of vegan-friendly products

1. Beeswax

Other names for Beeswax: Cera Alba, Cera Flava.

Beeswax is produced by bees to make the honeycomb. They produce this to protect their young and store their honey until they need food, in the winter or during a drought. In larger beekeeping operations, the bees are exploited for pollination and honey. They are subjected to pesticides that weaken their immune systems and make them susceptible to illness and death.

Beeswax is commonly used in body balms, lip balms and some mascaras to keep certain ingredients from separating.

Vegan alternatives to Beeswax are plant and soya waxes, such as Candelilla Wax (from the leaves of the candelilla shrub), which can be found in our lip balms.

scence natural vegan lip balm on wooden dish with flower.

Natural and Vegan Lip Balm

2. Shellac

Other names for Shellac: Goma Laca, Lac.

Shellac is a resin that is obtained from female lac bugs when they secrete which they are killed for. It's shocking and so sad that companies that use shellac, are able to justify killing thousands of these vulnerable insects AND for such a small amount of product. Commonly used in all shellac nail products.

A vegan alternative to Shellac would be a protein called Zein, which is found in Maize.

vegan and natural nail polishes.

Free From Shellac Nail Varnish

3. Glycerine

Glycerine can be obtained from both plant and animal sources so it is difficult to know what has been used.

Other names for Glycerine: 1,2,3-propanetriol, Glicerol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Alcohol.

Animal derived glycerine is a protein found in ground up horns, hooves, feathers and the hair of animals. It is commonly used in high street soaps, hair care, make up and moisturisers. A vegan alternative to Glycerine is a vegetable glycerin, sourced from soya or coconut oil.

4. Lanolin

Other names for Lanolin: Wool Yolk, Wool Grease, Wool Wax.

Lanolin is a wax taken from the glands of sheep and other animals with wool. It is most commonly used to prevent the loss of moisture from our skin and so is found in a lot of high street products, such as moisturising creams and lotions.

Vegan alternatives to Lanolin are coconut oil and olive oil.

rue and cole balm in glass jar with tin lid held in the hands of a child.

Rue & Cole Organic Vegan-Friendly Balm

5. Retinol

Retinol is often animal derived however can be from plant sources, but is often synthetically derived in a laboratory setting, exactly mimicking the molecule found in nature. 

Other names for Retinol: Retin-A, Retinyl Palmitate, Adapalene, Isotretinoin, Tazarotene.

Retinol is extracted from animals as a form of Vitamin A. It is commonly found in anti-wrinkle and eye creams. Vegan and natural alternatives to Retinol are pumpkin seed oil and hemp oil, which are both high in Vitamin A.

6. Carmine

Other names for Carmine: CI 75470, E120, Carminic Acid, Cocineal, Crimson Lake.

Carmine is an animal ingredient that is commonly used as a red pigment. It is taken from the shells of the female Cochineal insect, which are killed during the process. It is crazy how many creatures would need to be killed in this process to produce such a small amount of bright, deep red dye (to be precise it would be 70,000 boiled, crushed beetles to produce 1 pound of red dye). This is commonly found in nail varnishes, make-up, fruit juices, alcohol and food. 

7. Casein

This is derived from cow's milk. It it found in typical condoms and can also be found in moisturising and conditioning hair and face products. Vegan condoms provide plant-based substitutes such as thistle extract to soften the rubber.

fair squared natural condoms in cardboard box.

Natural and Vegan Condoms

8. Squalene

Squalene is extracted from shark liver oil. It can be found in lip balm, deodorants and moisturisers. There are however vegan alternatives made from olive oil or wheat germ oil. Vegan squalene is becoming more and more popular which is a good thing!

9. Guanine 

Other names for Guanine: Mearlmaid AA.

Guanine is a crystalline material obtained from fish scales. This is commonly used in nail polish, eyeshadow, bronzers or products that want to produce a shimmery effect. A vegan alternative to Guanine is mica, rayon and certain legumes.

all earth mineral and natural blusher in beechwood pot for life.

Vegan-Friendly Make-up

10. Oleic Acid

Other names for Oleic Acid: Oleate.

Oleic Acid is made from animal fat or tallow and helps to thicken formulas. It is commonly found in nail varnishes, soap and moisturisers. Vegan alternatives to Oleic Acid can be made from plants such as coconut, olives and nuts.

11. Silk Powder

Other names for Silk Powder: Silk Peptides, Silk Protein, Silk Amino Acids.

This is obtained from silk worms, they are horrifically boiled in their cocoons to obtain the silk. It is used in high street skincare, facial powders, soap and deodorant. A vegan replacement to Silk Powder is arrowroot powder.

natural deodorant in glass jar with metal lid.

Vegan and Natural Deodorant

12. Stearic Acid

Other names for Stearic Acid: Octadecanoic Acid, E570, anti-caking agent.

Stearic Acid is taken from pigs, cows and sheep's stomachs and is best known as animal fat. It is commonly found in deodorants, soaps, hair and moisturisers. The vegan alternative to Stearic Acid is derived from coconut.

13. Collagen

This ingredient is supposedly good for its anti-ageing properties and lip plumping abilities, however there is no conclusive evidence that the skin can actually absorb it. This protein is taken from animal tissue, bone, skin, or ligaments (often found in cows). 

14. Keratin

Other names for Keratin: Humectant.

This naturally occurs in the hair and horns of animals. It is used in products to strengthen nails and hair. Vegan alternatives to Keratin are amino acids. These can be found in nut and berry oils such as, almond oil, avocado oil and sea buckthorn oil.

fresh therapies natural vegan nail elixir in glass bottle with white pipette.

Vegan and Natural Nail Elixir

15. Lactic Acid

Other names for Lactic Acid: 2-Hydroxypopanoic Acid.

This is derived from animals and found in their blood and muscle tissue. It is commonly found in skincare products that are intended to improve the overall look and feel of the skin. Lactic Acid can naturally occur during the fermentation process of plants or can be man-made using plants and so this would be the vegan alternative. 


crushed and pressed natural glow powder with a make up brush laying next to it.

Don't want these ingredients? Take a look at our vegan haircare products and our entire range of vegan and natural make-up.

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