What is Vegan Beauty?

You may have vegetarian friends who don’t eat meat, fish, milk or possibly other animal products. Considering this vegetarian diet, however, one question comes to mind: What is vegan?

Pharmacopia Defines Vegan-BeautyThere are as many reasons behind going vegan and vegetarian as there are colors of leaves. Younger consumers especially want to buy products that align with their personal values. It often has to do with health and environmental reasons or ethical ones, such as not believing in harming animals for food when there are other options. My brother is a vegetarian and he says he won’t eat or use any animal products. As well as no meat, fish or dairy, this means no honey or leather too.

The same thinking holds true for beauty products. Like vegan food, vegan beauty means that there are no animal ingredients in the products (cruelty-free refers to no product testing on animals, but that is a story for another day). At Pharmacopia, we believe there is no need to use animal ingredients for beauty. We have been producing 100% vegan products since day one. Since there are so many great options for plant-derived ingredients that are kind to animals, we’ve always believed in making the better choice.


Over the past decade there has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of veganism throughout the world. As veganism has spread, it has made its way into many other areas, most notably the beauty industry. Famous vegans like Alicia Silverstone–an early fan of Pharmacopia–have helped popularize the lifestyle and spread the word about kindness to animals on her site, The Kind Life.

Vegan or Not?

Surprisingly, a number of common ingredients are sourced from animal parts. Here is a short list of some animal-based ingredients you may have seen in your beauty products:

  • Honey: Even though bees are not killed, vegans do not believe in taking animal products like honey that benefit the bees. Same idea with milk or cream.
  • Beeswax: see above
  • Lanolin: from sheep
  • Squalene: Squalene with an “e” is derived from shark liver oil. It is important to note that there is a vegetable-derived version called squalane with an “a” that is a great emollient.
  • Gelatin: from cow or pig bones, tendons or ligaments
  • Carmine: crushed up beetles used for color, often found in lipstick

We think bar soap is one product that is easy to understand why it should be vegan. Although any oil can be saponified into soap, (a chemical reaction that creates soap) beef fat or tallow (sodium tallowate) is a by-product of the meat industry that has a long history in soap making, being used in products like Ivory soap. So, if you prefer not to slather a by-product of beef fat on your skin (yuck!), be sure to opt for vegan soap like our Verbena Body Bar.

Vitamins and Antioxidants

The plant kingdom is filled with ingredients that are abundant with antioxidants and vitamins that are beneficial to your skin and hair. Check out the ingredients in our Verbena Shampoo, for example. You’ll find emollients like aloe vera and jojoba oil instead of animal-derived glycerine from animal fats. Not only are our vegan ingredients cruelty-free, but they do a fantastic job of leaving your hair shiny and tangle free.

Or, take a look at our Tangerine Lip Elixir. You’ll find lip-loving ingredients like comfrey and calendula flower extract, castor oil, shea butter, hemp oil and pomegranate seed oil.

The Future of Vegan Beauty

Just as vegan diets have shifted from once being rare, vegan beauty has become common for many consumers as they recognize its myriad of benefits, the clearest being less harm to animals. Not only are plant-based ingredients animal friendly, they are also beneficial to our environment as a whole. As our planet faces the ever increasing threat of climate change, small changes like using vegan beauty products can be an integral part of the solution.

At Pharmacopia, we consider our customers’ health and the environmental impact of the products we make as the most important factors to consider when designing new products.