What Is a Vegetarian Friendly Skincare Product?

For a skincare product to be vegetarian-friendly it must not contain any animal part (eg animal fats or gelatine) but may contain ingredients that are an animal bi-product (eg beeswax, honey, lactic acid).

It’s a similar concept to vegetarian-eating. A vegetarian will not eat any part of an animal (eg beef, chicken) but will eat ingredients produced by an animal (eg eggs, dairy).

Vegetarian versus Vegan

The difference between a vegetarian-friendly skincare product and a vegan-friendly skincare product is the absence of any ingredient that is a bi-product of an animal in vegan-friendly skincare products. This means that a vegan-friendly product does not contain ingredients such as honey or beeswax.

Why Look for a Vegetarian-Friendly Logo?

Vegetarian-friendly skincare labelling is not very common but I think it is an important logo as it will usually mean that the product is also cruelty-free. However please also look for a cruelty-free logo because you cannot assume that the product’s ingredients or the end product itself, albeit vegetable-derived, has not been tested on animals. Never assume.

Additionally, the ingredients listed on a skincare label does not make it easy to spot if an ingredient is vegetarian- or animal-based. For example “Helix pomatia” is becoming a popular ingredient in mainstream skincare products and has been used in Korean skincare products for many years because it is reported to have excellent moisturising, anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and anti-oxidant properties. Sounds like a fabulous ingredient for your skin, doesn’t it?

But what if I told you that Helix pomatia is known as Snail serum, in layman’s terms?

And what if I told you that there’s nothing beautiful or humane about breeding snails solely for their slime because snails used for this reason spend their lives in captivity on snail farms where, according to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): “they are confined to boxes and often kept caged behind electric fences that shock them if they try to escape”.

Then there’s ingredients like Gelatin which is commonly derived from fish but can also be vegetable-derived, or Squalene which was commonly taken from shark liver oil but is more likely to be, nowadays, derived from olives. But looking at the ingredients label, both ingredients will be listed under the same name so how do you know which is animal- and which is vegetable-based unless the product comes with a vegetarian-friendly logo?

What Makes this Simply Skin Product Vegetarian-Friendly and not Vegan-Friendly?

There is one ingredient in this product that is not vegan-friendly. It is beeswax; a natural wax produced by bees. The wax is formed into scales by wax-producing of worker bees who discard it in or at the hive. It is then collected to form cells for honey storage and larval & pupal protection within the beehive. The collection of beeswax is in no way distressing for the bees who produce it nor does it hurt bees in any way.

Whilst I am continuously exploring alternative vegan-friendly options, I have not yet found such an ingredient that creates as high (or higher) quality products… but the search shall continue.