WHAT DOES VEGAN MEAN?
Being vegan is not easy as animal ingredients are found in almost every product in our life such as food, clothing, and cosmetics. But it’s ok, we’re here to help out by getting you familiar with a list of the most common animal by-products along with information about what types of products they are most likely to show up. At Gen C each time you will spot the banana icon on a product, it means that the product is 100% vegan.
Here's a list of the most commonly used animal by-products ingredients in the cosmetics industry. Keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive.
- Allatonin: Uric acid from cows, most mammals. Also in many plants (especially comfrey). In cosmetics (especially creams and lotions) and used in the treatment of wounds and ulcers. Derivatives: Alcloxa, Aldioxa. Alternatives: extract of comfrey root, synthetics.
- Albumin: In eggs, milk, muscles, blood, and many vegetable tissues and fluids. In cosmetics, albumen is usually derived from egg whites and used as a coagulating agent. May cause allergic reaction. In cakes, cookies, candies, etc. Egg whites sometimes used in “clearing” wines. Derivative: Albumin.
- Alpha-Hydroxy Acids: Any one of several acids used as an exfoliant and in anti-wrinkle products. Lactic acid may be animal-derived (see Lactic Acid). Alternatives: glycolic acid, citric acid, and salicylic acid are plant- or fruit-derived.
- Beeswax: Wax obtained from melting honeycomb with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. From virgin bees. Very cheap and widely used. May be harmful to the skin. In lipsticks and many other cosmetics, especially face creams, lotions, mascara, eye creams and shadows, face makeup, nail whiteners, lip balms, etc. Derivatives: Cera Flava. Alternatives: paraffin, vegetable oils and fats, ceresin (aka ceresine, earth wax; made from the mineral ozokerite; replaces beeswax in cosmetics; also used to wax paper, to make polishing cloths, in dentistry for taking wax impressions, and in candle-making), carnauba wax (from the Brazilian palm tree; used in many cosmetics, including lipstick; rarely causes allergic reactions), candelilla wax (from candelilla plants; used in many cosmetics, including lipstick; also in the manufacture of rubber and phonograph records, in waterproofing and writing inks; no known toxicity), Japan wax (vegetable wax, Japan tallow; fat from the fruit of a tree grown in Japan and China).
- Bee Pollen: Microsporic grains in seed plants gathered by bees then collected from the legs of bees. Causes allergic reactions in some people. In nutritional supplements, shampoos, toothpaste, deodorants. Alternatives: synthetics, plant amino acids, pollen collected from plants.
- Bee Products: Produced by bees for their own use. When coming from big honey producers, you will most probably see this scenario. Bees are selectively bred. Culled bees are killed. A cheap sugar is substituted for their stolen honey. Millions die as a result. Their legs are often torn off by pollen-collection trapdoors. Buying local honey from a known source (ideally organic or uncultivated land) and produced by individual beekeepers, who practice balanced beekeeping, is recommended.
- Biotin/Vitamine H/Vitamine B Factor: Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that helps the body metabolize proteins and process glucose. It is also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H. It is found in every living cell and in larger amounts in milk and yeast. Used as a texturizer in cosmetics, shampoos, and creams. Alternatives: plant sources.
- Carmine/Cochineal/Carminic Acid: Red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. Reportedly, 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red lollipops and food coloring). May cause allergic reactions. Alternatives: beet juice (used in powders, rouges, shampoos; no known toxicity), alkanet root (from the root of this herb-like tree; used as a red dye for inks, wines, lip balms, etc.; no known toxicity; can also be combined to make a copper or blue coloring). (See Colors.)
- Provitamin A. Beta Carotene: A pigment found in many animal tissues and in all plants. When used as an additive, typically derived from plant sources. Used as a coloring in cosmetics and in the manufacture of vitamin A.
- Chitosan: A fiber derived from crustacean shells. Used as a lipid binder in diet products; hair, oral, and skin-care products; antiperspirants; and deodorants. Alternatives: raspberries, yams, legumes, dried apricots, many other fruits, and vegetables.
- Cholesterol: A steroid alcohol in all animal fats and oils, nervous tissue, egg yolk, and blood. Can be derived from lanolin. In cosmetics, eye creams, shampoos, etc. Alternatives: solid complex alcohols (sterols) from plant sources.
- Collagen: Fibrous protein in vertebrates. Usually derived from animal tissue. Can’t affect the skin’s own collagen. An allergen. Alternatives: soy protein, almond oil, amla oil (see alternatives to Keratin), etc.
- Cysteine: An amino acid from hair that can come from animals. Used in hair-care products and creams, in some bakery products, and in wound-healing formulations. Alternatives: plant sources.
- Elastin: Protein found in the neck ligaments and aortas of cows. Similar to collagen. Can’t affect the skin’s own elasticity. Alternatives: synthetics, protein from plant tissues.
- Emu Oil: From flightless ratite birds native to Australia and now factory-farmed. Used in cosmetics and creams. Alternatives: vegetable and plant oils.
- Fatty Acids: Can be one or any mixture of liquid and solid acids such as caprylic, lauric, myristic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic. Used in bubble baths, lipsticks, soap, detergents, cosmetics, food. Alternatives: vegetable-derived acids, soy lecithin, safflower oil, bitter almond oil, sunflower oil, etc.
- Fish scales / Guanine: Used in shimmery makeup. Alternatives: mica, rayon, synthetic pearl.
- Glycerin: A byproduct of soap manufacture (normally uses animal fat). In cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpaste, soaps, ointments, medicines, lubricants, transmission and brake fluid, and plastics. Derivatives: Glycerides, Glyceryls, Glycreth-26, Polyglycerol. Alternatives: vegetable glycerin (a byproduct of vegetable oil soap), derivatives of seaweed.
- Keratin: Protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals. In hair rinses, shampoos, permanent wave solutions. Alternatives: almond oil, soy protein, amla oil (from the fruit of an Indian tree), human hair from salons. Rosemary and nettle give body and strand strength to hair.
- Lanolin: A product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool. Used as an emollient in many skin-care products and cosmetics and in medicines. An allergen with no proven effectiveness. Derivatives: Aliphatic Alcohols, Cholesterin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Alcohols, Lanosterols, Sterols, Triterpene Alcohols. Alternatives: plant and vegetable oils.
- Propolis: Tree sap gathered by bees and used as a sealant in beehives. In toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, supplements, etc. Alternatives: tree sap, synthetics.
- Retinol : Animal-derived vitamin A. Alternative: carotene.
- Royal Jelly: Secretion from the throat glands of worker honeybees. Fed to the larvae in a colony and to all queen larvae. No proven value in cosmetics preparations. Alternatives: aloe vera, comfrey, other plant derivatives.
- Squalene: Oil from shark livers, etc. In cosmetics, moisturizers, hair dyes, surface-active agents. Alternatives: vegetable emollients such as olive oil, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, etc.
- Tallow: Rendered beef fat. May cause eczema and blackheads. In wax paper, crayons, margarines, paints, rubber, lubricants, etc. In candles, soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams, other cosmetics. Chemicals (e.g., PCB) can be in animal tallow. Derivatives: Sodium Tallowate, Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, Tallow Imidazoline. Alternatives: vegetable tallow, Japan tallow, paraffin, ceresin (see alternatives to Beeswax). Paraffin is usually from petroleum, wood, coal, or shale oil.
- Vitamin A.: Can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk, butter, lemongrass, wheat germ oil, carotene in carrots, and synthetics. An aliphatic alcohol. In cosmetics, creams, perfumes, hair dyes, etc. In vitamins, supplements. Alternatives: carrots, other vegetables, synthetics. (Please note that Vitamin A exists in two forms: see also Carotene, Retinol.)
- Wax: Glossy, hard substance that is soft when hot. From animals and plants. In lipsticks, depilatories, hair straighteners. Alternatives: vegetable waxes.