So what’s in those vegan lists offered by CosmEthics?
Find out more about animal-based ingredients, where they come from and plant-based alternatives.
As you have probably heard, CosmEthics has recently released an update that allows you create vegan profiles and avoid animal based ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products. Our ready-made list contains 200 ingredients, including those which can either be sourced from animals or vegetable source. We understand that most of those 200 ingredients won’t mean much to you and the Wikipedia page might not always be there so we decided to explain some of the most common animal-based ingredients here, on our blog. For those of you who are not vegans and use CosmEthics for other purposes, e.g. allergies, we are going to have posts about other most common ingredients we can find in our personal care products and cosmetics. But for now, let’s take a look at a first bunch of vegan ingredients and where they come from!
Allantoin — Uric acid from cows, most mammals. Also in many plants (especially comfrey). In cosmetics (especially creams and lotions) and used in treatment of wounds and ulcers. Derivatives: Alcloxa, Aldioxa. Alternatives: extract of comfrey root, synthetics.
Amino Acids — The building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. In cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, shampoos, etc. Alternatives: synthetics, plant sources.
Beeswax/Honeycomb/Cera Alba — 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).
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.
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 found in urine and horsehair. Used as a nutritional supplement and in emollients. Alternatives: plant sources.
Egg Protein — In shampoos, skin preparations, etc. Alternatives: plant proteins.
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.
Fish Oil/Marine Oil — From fish or marine mammals (including porpoises). Used in soapmaking. Used as a shortening (especially in some margarines), as a lubricant, and in paint. Alternatives: vegetable oils.
Gelatin — Protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones in water. From cows and pigs. Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics. Used as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (e.g., Jell-O). In candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, yogurts. On photographic film and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules. Sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines. Alternatives: carrageen (carrageenan, Irish moss), seaweeds (algin, agar-agar, kelp — used in jellies, plastics, medicine), pectin from fruits, dextrins, locust bean gum, cotton gum, silica gel.
Glycerin (Glycerides, Glycreth-26), Glycerol (Glyceryls) — A byproduct of soap manufacture (normally uses animal fat). In cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpastes, 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, petroleum.
Honey/Mel — Food for bees, made by bees. Can cause allergic reactions. Used as a coloring and an emollient in cosmetics and as a flavoring in foods. Should never be fed to infants. Alternatives: in foods — maple syrup, date sugar, syrups made from grains such as barley malt, turbinado sugar, molasses; in cosmetics — vegetable colors and oils.
Lanolin/Lanolin Acids/Lanolin Alcohol — 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. (See Wool for cruelty to sheep.) Derivatives: Aliphatic Alcohols, Cholesterin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Alcohols, Lanosterols, Sterols, Triterpene Alcohols. Alternatives: plant and vegetable oils.
Lecithin. Choline Bitartrate — Waxy substance in nervous tissue of all living organisms. But frequently obtained for commercial purposes from eggs and soybeans. Also from nerve tissue, blood, milk, corn. Choline bitartrate, the basic constituent of lecithin, is in many animal and plant tissues and prepared synthetically. Lecithin can be in eye creams, lipsticks, liquid powders, hand creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, other cosmetics, and some medicines. Alternatives: soybean lecithin, synthetics.
Milk Protein — Hydrolyzed milk protein. From the milk of cows. In cosmetics, shampoos, moisturizers, conditioners, etc. Alternatives: soy protein, other plant proteins.
Mink Oil — From minks. In cosmetics, creams, etc. Alternatives: vegetable oils and emollients such as avocado oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil.
“Natural Sources” — Can mean animal or vegetable sources. Most often in the health-food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil. Alternatives: plant sources.
Palmitic Acid — A fatty acid most commonly derived from palm oil but may be derived from animals as well. In shampoos, shaving soaps, creams. Derivatives: Palmitate, Palmitamine, Palmitamide. Alternatives: vegetable sources.
Panthenol. Dexpanthenol. Vitamin B-Complex Factor. Provitamin B-5 — Can come from animal or plant sources or synthetics. In shampoos, supplements, emollients, etc. In foods. Derivative: Panthenyl. Alternatives: synthetics, plants.
Placenta. Placenta Polypeptides Protein — Contains waste matter eliminated by the fetus. Derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals. Animal placenta is widely used in skin creams, shampoos, masks, etc. Alternatives: kelp.
Propolis — Tree sap gathered by bees and used as a sealant in beehives. In toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, supplements, etc. Alternatives: tree sap, synthetics.
Shellac. Resinous Glaze — Resinous excretion of certain insects. Used as a candy glaze, in hair lacquer, and on jewelry. Alternatives: plant waxes, Zein (from corn).
Silk. Silk Powder — Silk is the shiny fiber made by silkworms to form their cocoons. Worms are boiled in their cocoons to get the silk. Used in cloth. In silk-screening (other fine cloth can be and is used instead). Taffeta can be made from silk or nylon. Silk powder is obtained from the secretion of the silkworm. It is used as a coloring agent in face powders, soaps, etc. Can cause severe allergic skin reactions and systemic reactions if inhaled or ingested. Alternatives: milkweed seed-pod fibers, nylon, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments (kapok), rayon, and synthetic silks.
Stearic Acid — When animal-derived, a fat from cows, pigs, and sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters, etc. May also be of plant origin, including from cocoa butter and shea butter. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavoring. Derivatives: Stearamide, Stearamine, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine, Stearyl Imidazoline. Alternatives: Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut.
Stearyl Alcohol. Sterols — A mixture of solid alcohols. Can be prepared from sperm whale oil. In medicines, creams, rinses, shampoos, etc. Derivatives: Stearamine Oxide, Stearyl Acetate, Stearyl Caprylate, Stearyl Citrate, Stearyldimethyl Amine, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Stearyl Heptanoate, Stearyl Octanoate, Stearyl Stearate. Alternatives: plant sources, vegetable stearic acid.
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. Tallow Fatty Alcohol. Stearic Acid — 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.
Urea/Carbamide/Imidazolidinyl Urea — Typically synthetic. When extracted from animals, it is excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. Used to “brown” baked goods, such as pretzels. Derivatives: Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid. Alternatives: synthetics.
Stay tuned for more animal-based ingredients explained! You have probably noticed that there a plenty of alternatives for animal based ingredients. When avoiding these ingredients make sure to check the package to see whether ingredients used are from plant origin, vegan manufacturer usually provide this information. We hope this helps you chose vegan products and understand the alternative ingredients!
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