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5 vegan friendly skin care routines & their benefits


Written byMichelle Kemp

vegan skin care
Looking after our skin is key. But how does veganism change this? Find out the best vegan skincare routines, including cleansing, exfoliating, toning and more.

For many vegans, veganism is not just about avoiding animal-based products in a diet plan, it is a lifestyle choice, which actively promotes the use of non-animal ingredients.

This means ensuring that products, such as cosmetics, are created with vegan principles in mind.

In response to this growing demand, there are now many skincare companies marketing vegan and cruelty-free products.

And it is becoming easier to identify if something is vegan and cruelty-free, as the packaging is often identified with a ‘V’ sign and a leaping bunny icon.

If you are vegan or have simply started taking more of an interest in the ingredients in your skincare, then you may have found there are a number of products you simply cannot use anymore.

Sometimes it is possible to swap your traditional moisturisers and serums for specially designed vegan skincare, and on other occasions, it is important to look at your whole skincare routine completely.

Whether you’re already a vegan or are simply curious about vegan-friendly beauty, we’ll give you a quick lowdown on what these products can do for your skin and the world around you.

In this article, you’ll find out

  • Vegan skincare FAQs
  • Vegan makeup FAQs
  • 5 best vegan skincare routines
  • A little on vegan skincare products
  • Vegan skincare benefits

Vegan skincare FAQs

What is vegan skincare?

Vegan diets are becoming more popular, with an increasing number of people giving up meat for a plant-based diet. Adopting a vegan lifestyle doesn’t end with food though.

Choosing clothing, household products, cosmetics and skincare products free from any animal-derived ingredients is also a key part of being a vegan.


What defines vegan skincare?

Vegan skincare products do not contain any animal by-products or ingredients.

Animal by-products such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, squalene and stearic acid are commonly used in the majority of leading brands’ beauty products and cosmetics.

From moisturisers and cleansers to soaps and fragrances, these ingredients are frequently found in an extensive range of skincare products.


How can I tell if a product is vegan?

Certified vegan products feature two logos by Vegan Action and The Vegan Society on their packaging to indicate that they don’t contain any animal ingredients.

Familiarising yourself with animal-derived ingredients and checking product packaging is another way to find vegan-friendly products. PETA’s Animal Ingredients List is just one source of this information.


What is the difference between vegan and cruelty-free products?

Many assume that if a product is vegan, it has not been tested on animals, but this may not always be the case.

Unless it’s stated on the packaging, it’s possible that a vegan skincare product may have been through some animal testing.

To ensure this isn’t the case, look out for the Leaping Bunny logo. It appears on certified cruelty-free products to show that they have not been tested on.


What is vegan makeup?

Vegan makeup products are those that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.1

 Ingredients that are often derived from animals (or the habitat of animals) include:

  • Honey
  • Beeswax
  • Lanolin
  • Silk powder
  • Guanine
  • Gelatin
  • Squalene
  • Collagen and many more2

There are many benefits of vegan beauty, whether you class yourself as a vegan or not.

If you are environmentally conscious and want to do more to help the ecosystem, then a good place to start is to check whether or not the ingredients in your makeup are vegan-friendly.

Vegan makeup and vegan beauty products: cruelty free makeup

To ensure you are using a vegan product, whether makeup or skincare, it is vital to check the ingredient list.

Vegan mascara

Beeswax and honeycomb are often used to make non-vegan mascara. They keep the product smooth and prevent a sticky formula.

Collagen can also be used to make the lashes appear thicker.

A vegan mascara, on the other hand, can use substitutes such as vegetable oil or plant-based blends of waxes.

To find a natural mascara, you should check if it is free from synthetic ingredients.

Some mascaras are also infused with lash strengthening oils.

Vegan lipstick

By contrast, vegan lipstick and vegan eyeshadow use iron oxides or fruit and vegetable dyes.

For extra moisturization in lipsticks, some vegan options contain shea butter, rosehip oil, jojoba oil and vitamin A and E to help reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Vegan makeup brushes

Vegan makeup brushes do not use animal hair. They can be made from synthetic fibre instead since natural fibres are derived from living organisms.

Synthetic fibres have known to be more hygienic thanks to its smooth surface, which makes it easier to clean the brush and keep it free from dirt.

Vegan makeup brushes can give you a smoother finished look because they are designed to allow you to efficiently blend your makeup.

5 of the best vegan skincare routines

Great skincare is important. An effective beauty routine could help soothe blemish prone skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and help to keep your skin in overall good condition.

So what are the best ways of going about this, whilst adhering to vegan principles?



As cleansers are designed for daily usage, you should find one that has natural elements and is not too drying.4

This is because cleansing too frequently could lead to an unhealthy stripping of the skin’s protective barrier.

Lactic acid is a good source of moisturization in any vegan, cruelty free skincare product.



After cleansing any excess dirt and makeup from your face, you might like to exfoliate as they help to remove any dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores.

Using a natural exfoliator, which includes ingredients such as bamboo, salt or bentonite clay, can help to give the appearance of a smoother complexion.



Following exfoliation, the next step is to find a suitable toner. Excess oil can often clog pores which then leads to breakouts, and this is where a good toner can help.

Natural ingredients in a toner, such as rose water, can help to balance pH levels and soothe sensitive skin.

For blemish-prone skin, witch hazel is a good choice for a toner as it aids in balancing oily skin.


Apply a serum

After toning the skin, a serum can be applied.

Natural elements such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C can help to plump the skin after it has been exfoliated.


Face masks

Once or twice a month, you could also treat yourself to a face mask.

Whether it is a clay, sheet or peel off mask, ensure that it is packed with vegan friendly ingredients and is rich in vitamins and minerals.

And if you are environmentally conscious, you might like to check that any sheet masks are also biodegradable.

You also asked...

Why do I need to cleanse my face?

From the moment you get out of bed, the skin on your face is working hard.

You will subject it to a lot during the day, and dirt and grime will begin to gather on it immediately.

This will be made up of sweat, pollutants, make-up and the oils that you transfer onto your face when you touch it.

These things build up on your skin, causing it to look dull, but they also work to clog your pores, which can lead to breakouts.

By keeping your skin clean and clear, you can unblock those pores and keep your skin looking fresh and bright.

That means creating a daily face cleaning routine that suits your skin type. It can be as simple as washing it or ensuring you use a facial cleanser that may even be vegan.

Establishing a good face cleaning routine is important, as this creates the basis for all the other skincare that you use.

If your skin is not clean to start with, the rest of it is unlikely to be a successful as you hope.


How should I cleanse my face?

The key to any cleansing routine is to be gentle. The skin on your face is delicate, and it does not respond well to being scrubbed or to having harsh ingredients pplied to it.

A vegan skincare routine lends itself well to this gentle approach as it tends to stick to more natural, pure ingredients that are kinder to the skin.

Whilst soap and water might seem the obvious way to clean your skin, this can often be drying, and so a specific make-up remover, cleanser and gentle cleansing cloths prove to be a better combination.

You will need to settle on a skincare routine that matches your skin type, so take a look at 5 vegan friendly skincare routines for some great ideas on how to look after your skin.

Not only do you need to think about what you use to clean your face, but also how you treat your face in other ways.

Make sure that you clean your make-up brushes regularly, drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and try a weekly vegan face mask for a more intensive cleanse.


Why do I need to exfoliate my face?

As well as keeping your skin clean with cleansing, sometimes your skin might need a little more help to keep it looking and feeling its best. That’s where exfoliating comes in.

As well as helping to remove any dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores, it also keeps your skin smooth, soft and even in texture.


How should I exfoliate my face?

There’s currently a debate between dermatologists on whether physical or synthetic exfoliation is better – and this applies to vegan skincare products too.

That being said, no matter what exfoliator you go for, you should be gentle when applying it.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association state that 30 seconds of small, circular motions are best when using an exfoliant, before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

Also, be sure to moisturise afterwards as it can be drying on the skin.


Why do I need to tone my face?

Nowadays, a range of toners are available to suit multiple skin types and specific concerns, from anti-aging to blemish control.

While toning isn’t strictly necessary for your skin, it can help to leave it feeling fresh and clean – especially if you’ve been wearing makeup all day and want to ensure it’s all been removed!


How should I tone my face?

Thankfully using a toner on your face is simple. All you need to do is soak a cotton pad (reusable if possible!) with the product, then gently sweep it across your face, neck and chest.

You should use a toner after washing your face and before adding moisturiser or a serum up to two times a day.


Why do I need to use serum on my face?

Serums are great if you know your skin is in need of a little extra assistance.

Whether you want to up the hydration, combat fine lines or even out skin texture, there are hundreds of vegan friendly serums available to help you do so – you’ve just got to find the right one for you!


How should I use serum on my face?

Best applied after cleansing and toning but before moisturising, serum is applied in a slightly different way to other skincare products.

Instead of massaging or rubbing in, serum should be delicately tapped into your skin with your fingertips, letting it absorb in its own time.


Why do I need use face masks?

A little like serums, face masks (the cosmetic kind!) aren’t necessarily a must-have for your skin, but they can be used as an aid for helping you achieve your skin goals.

For example, if you have oily skin you might want to use a charcoal mask to help absorb the excess oil and draw out impurities.


How should I use face masks?

Most face masks, whether cream, gel, clay or bubble-based, should be applied so that there is an even layer on your skin – but be careful to avoid the delicate skin around your eyes and mouth.

Leave on for the time stated on the label, then gently rinse off with lukewarm water until all the residue has gone. Try to avoid using over two times a week.


Vegan skin care products

There are a great number of vegan cleansers on the market, as well as microfibre cloths that can help to remove dirt and make-up using the best cruelty-free face cleanser: water.

Many skincare products contain glycerine, which can come from animal fat, and is therefore avoided by those seeking a vegan lifestyle.

Collagen is another skin ingredient that stems from animals and fish, whilst squalene comes from shark liver oil.5

Whatever you choose to clean your skin, you should make sure that you replenish any lost moisture and soothe the skin with a vegan moisturiser.

This will help to keep it healthy and glowing both day and night.

Choosing a vegan skincare routine is easier now than it has ever been and is no longer something that only applies to those who choose not to eat meat.

If you are looking for vegan skincare products, it is always recommended to research which vegan ingredients and products are out there.

It is now something that is considered by those who want to cut down on the use of animal by-products, reduce their carbon footprint or decrease the waste that they produce.

Read more: Your ultimate guide to vegan beauty

What are the benefits of vegan skincare?

Read on for our top benefits of vegan skincare...

  1. Gentler on the skin

Usually made from natural or organic ingredients, cruelty-free and vegan skincare products tend to be gentler on the skin.

Those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin may find these products especially beneficial as they also tend to contain fewer ingredients, less fragrances that aggravate any skin conditions or cause reactions.6

  1. Kinder to animals

Along with a vegan diet, choosing plant-based skincare is kinder to animals as they do not use animal by-products, and are usually produced without animal testing.

However, keep in mind being vegan-friendly does not guarantee that all vegan products have not been tested on animals.

The final say

Fortunately, if you’re vegan, your skincare routine won’t look too different from non-vegan versions.

And as the lifestyle becomes more popular, more and more vegan organic skincare products will become available for you to try out yourself.

Our health hub features 7 of the top vegan beauty buys for those who want to incorporate more cruelty-free skincare into their lives. 

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 19 January 2022

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