Doesn’t it seem sometimes like animal ingredients are in everything? The more you start looking and analyzing labels, the more you realize that animals suffer needlessly so we can have more stuff in our lives. As awareness of the cruelty factor involved in eating animals becomes more widespread, more and more people are turning to a plant-based diet. That’s all good, and it leads to the next step – realizing that this is only one part of how we use animals.
The more animals we kill to eat the more non-edible parts there are to dispose of. Rather than allocate such massive amounts of by-products to the waste facility, we have found creative ways to use them. These ingredients are not better than non-animal ingredients, they are just more readily available and cheap. Let’s consider the beauty industry. Are you aware that animals could be lurking in your lipstick, moisturizer and nail polish remover? When you think about buying a lipstick, for example, chances are good you think about what color looks good and how easily it glides on. Maybe you consider whether it stays on for hours or disappears quickly. Is the packaging pretty, useful, or recyclable? Rarely, except for the new awareness around controversial ingredients that might be unsafe or an allergen we want to avoid, do we scrutinize the list of ingredients.
Is it important? Yes! Does it make a difference? Yes! Every time you make a purchase you make a statement about what is and what isn’t okay with you. It is heartening to see that cruelty-free, vegan beauty products are popping up with more frequency, and to keep this trend going, we need to continue to support it as it grows. How do you do that? Review the list of ingredients on your favorite products and look for ones that have come from an animal. Let’s start with a few ingredients that might surprise you:
1. Lanolin. Lanolin is excreted sheep sebum (oil) and is used as a lubricating agent and emulsifier in many beauty products including lipstick. The popular thinking here is that it comes from sheep’s wool, right? So what’s the big deal? Something that comes from sheep’s wool seems benign enough until you learn about how often sheep are bred to have excessive folds (to unnaturally produce more wool), how they can be eaten alive by maggots when flies get into those folds, how they have flesh cut off their back ends (a practice called mulesing) to avoid the maggot infestation, and how they are shipped off to slaughter when they no longer produce enough wool. Since lanolin is a by-product of this industry, it is definitely not a cruelty-free ingredient.
Want a great alternative? Try Sevi’s Vegan Mineral Lipsticks.
2. Squalane/Squalene. The squalene in your cosmetic products can come from sharks or vegetable sources such as olive oil. There is a movement towards more and more plant-extracted squalene but shark squalene is still in use. It has great benefits because it is a natural, oil-free moisturizer but deep sea sharks are being greatly overfished and their population is dwindling. Choosing only products that use plant-based squalene will help support and protect the deep sea sharks’ survival. Would you like the benefits of the moisturizing properties of squalene without the cruelty?
3. Gelatin. Gelatin pops up in the obvious foods like jello and puddings as well as marshmallows, gummy bears and capsules for vitamins and drugs. But, did you know that it is even in nail polish remover? Who knew! It’s just another reason why reading labels is so important. Supposedly, it is in there as a nail strengthener but considering the caustic effects of acetone, it’s unlikely it is doing much. And, even if it is, when you consider that it comes from reconstituted bones, connective tissue and even intestines of animals it is clearly a huge by-product of the meat industry where suffering exists on a massive scale. The good news is that there are great alternatives.
It removes your polish quickly, does not contain DBP, formaldehyde and toluene and includes botanicals to condition your nails. It is so easy to take beauty habits and products we’ve been using for a long time for granted. The good news is that habits can change. The next time you apply lipstick, moisturizer or use nail polish remover, take a quick peek at the ingredient list and see if there are animals lurking there. If so, these alternatives can give you cruelty-free, effective results. It’s a win-win!