Harmless beauty

Choosing cruelty-free, vegan products is not just happy news for animals but for your skin too!

Cosmetic brands have for the longest cashed upon the insecurity of women around the world. But is it really just insecurity? Some say it makes them feel confident and is a way to express themselves, while others enjoy the theatrics and aesthetic of it.

With this growing want to paint one’s face, there’s also an improved consciousness towards products that are natural, vegan and cruelty-free. While this checklist does not confirm how healthy a product is for a certain skin type, they are in fact keywords every makeup brand wants to associate themselves with. As Calvin Klein famously said, it takes makeup to look natural; the statement stands true more so now than ever.

Our skin tends to absorb about 60% of the products we apply on it, which is a scary thought, to begin with. In a scenario like that, applying products that are synthetic, processed and full of preservatives, chemicals and toxins can take a toll on one’s skin.

The Economist magazine has declared 2019 as the year of the vegan. But what does veganism mean in terms of cosmetics? In simple words, vegan beauty means the omission of animal ingredients in a makeup procedure. While cruelty-free denotes a product that is not tested on animals. A vegan item can have been tested on an animal and a cruelty-free product to contain animal ingredients. In that regard, it is indeed an intricate detail but should be taken seriously by makeup enthusiasts.

Common animal-derived ingredients found in beauty products include honey, beeswax, lanolin (wool grease), squalene (shark liver oil), carmine (crushed-up beetles), gelatin (cow or pig bones, tendons or ligaments), allantoin (cow urine), ambergris (whale vomit) and placenta (sheep organs) that can be harsh on the skin and clog pores. Vegan products can be a soothing alternative, especially for those with sensitive skin.

Many plant-based formulas contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that repair and hydrate the skin far better than animal ingredients. After all, eating food in their natural state is healthier and the same goes for skincare as well. Our skin blooms better when treated with natural and vegan ingredients.

Vitamins A, C, and E, natural oils, such as coconut, argan and rosehip, algae, soybean extracts, hemp seed extracts, Camu Camu berry etc are some plant-based ingredients that are a delight for one’s skin.

What one must also note is that products, when absorbed by the skin, go straight into the bloodstream. Whereas when one consumes something, it goes through their kidneys and liver before it reaches the blood, which is a natural filtration and detoxification process. Continual absorption of non-vegan ingredients can potentially cause negative side effects.

Tata Harper, the founder of a namesake natural beauty brand that’s mostly vegan has said that beauty follows food because it uses a lot of the same ingredients. If they’re good to ingest, then they’re usually great to apply on the skin as well.

Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president of PETA, has pinpointed two industrywide shifts that spurred vegan and cruelty-free awareness in beauty. The first was in 1990 when Estée Lauder and Revlon stopped testing on animals. The second is 2019 when Unilever, the parent company of Dove, Axe, Dermalogica etc announced that it has committed to a policy of no animal testing across all of its product lines.

It can be a lengthy and expensive process for beauty brands to be vegan and cruelty-free because it’s cheaper and easier to do animal testing, whereas clinical testing can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In India, younger brands like Plum, Vaunt, The Switch Fix, Disguise cosmetics etc. are driving the change that is inspiring people to opt for responsible beauty brands. There are also brands like Khadi, Himalaya, Biotique, Kama Ayurveda, Forrest essentials that are subtle when it comes to campaigning about such concerns. This is unlike the new assemblage of Indian beauty brands that are actively talking about these key factors through their social media that further spread the cause among makeup buyers.

Recently, FAE Beauty, a Mumbai based make up brand was launched into the market that has an interesting story behind it. FAE stands for free and equal beauty and that’s how the product is designed specifically for the Indian skin type. They launched five shades of vegan and cruelty-free lipsticks with 70 per cent of its ingredients being safe enough to consume.  Everything that has gone into their product is clearly listed on their website.

What stands out is their campaign that features five different individuals from the gender spectrum with varied skin colours put on each of their lips as a way to show the product’s inclusivity. Their buildable product range of just lipsticks is a crisp debut by any makeup brand. FAE suggests that these colours can be applied to the eyes and cheeks too, making it a versatile product that can come in handy for those who like to have a concise product kit.

According to Karishma Kewalramani, CEO and founder at FAE, these lipsticks can be applied as a subtle hint of colour that can be intensified by multiple applications around the lip.

Whereas Dot and Key is another new-age Indian skincare label that has a unique selection of products based on ingredients from natural sources. The products are cruelty-free and their water-based formula makes them a hit among its users.

Building upon the natural texture of the skin both in terms of beauty and skincare can be challenging for both brands and users. What some Indian brands are doing is of great comfort to Indian skin type and climate as now we have a lot of options to choose from that are more than relevant for us.

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