VEGAN BEAUTY is now mainstream – but is it a fad, or a SEA CHANGE IN THE INDUSTRY? We look at the rise of V beauty, and the brands inspiring us to CONSIDER OUR BEAUTY FOOTPRINT …
Vegan is the word when it comes to beauty right now. Every new launch flaunts its “free-from” and pure-as-the-driven-snow credentials. And this is not vegan as we knew it – worthy, gritty products that smell odd and go off within the week: vegan has got glamorous. But why’s everyone jumping on the vegan bandwagon?
There’s been a rise of 100 per cent in cosmetics lines describing themselves as vegan, according to Mintel. It’s driven by the wellness trend, and a global growth in vegan diets. In the saturated beauty market, we’re increasingly choosing brands that we trust – often smaller, independent companies that are conscious of the environment, not just their profit margins. New research shows that 85 per cent of Irish people are concerned about their plastic consumption. “The growing swell of interest in ingredient transparency, concern with animal testing and also environmentally-sound packaging is definitely not a fad,” says Michelle Feeney, veteran of the industry for over 30 years, working with brands such as MAC, and founder of vegan perfume Floral Street. “I think consumers are waking to up the reality that we have to alter habits if we are to save our habitat. I feel it is very much up to the beauty giants and start-ups together to lead the change, not just respond to customer needs.”
Irish brands are in on the act. As Niamh Hogan of Holos Skincare notes, “There’s definitely a rise in popularity of vegan products and every day we get mails checking that our products are vegan. It’s definitely important for people. If we don’t need to use animal products, why would we? Meat and animal products are the biggest drain on our environment – the biggest contributors to global warming. As a brand we’re doing our best to be clean, ethical and sustainable. And it’s not just for diehard vegans; most people now have an awareness that there are small things we can do to help the world we live in that are not difficult.”
Finding great vegan products is no longer a challenge. L’Oréal recently launched a herbal, vegan-friendly hair dye, Botanea, based on age-old colouring agents such as henna. It’s positive that this huge company is answering demand (they do sell in China, see box). Skinfull Affairs (an offshoot of The Body Shop), which opened its first store in Dublin last year, offers all things vegan, from nail polish to treatments. Its ethos – “conscientious yet indulgent” – sums up beauty’s new mood. Look also to the Handmade Soap Company (their Grapefruit & May Chang hand cream is divine), Warrior Botanicals and Modern Botany. Newly arrived in Ireland, Isle of Paradise is vegan and cruelty-free as part of its modern, feel-good take on fake tanning.
Tata Harper’s luxurious range is the gold standard in natural skincare, and she stands against the “outsourcing” of the beauty business; hers is all made on her Vermont farm, to ensure “there are no short-cuts, fillers or toxic ingredients – everything is as good as it can be.” Harper cautions against the bandwagon, though: “I feel that this is an area where there’s a lot of greenwashing – being vegan is not the same thing as being natural. Many marketing labels, like gluten-free, are used to confuse people, and companies latch on to buzzwords to make us believe certain things.” As Feeney notes: “In order to be a modern brand, with Floral Street we had to consider what was in the fragrance just as much as what the fragrance was packaged in.”
It’s about time we looked more closely at the pretty bottles on our shelves: we’re learning to read labels and avoid unnecessary chemicals – and caring a little more about the impact our beauty habit has on the world around us. Says Harper: “It’s really a movement, an evolution of consumer goods and people demanding better, safer things.”
To V or not to V
Vegan products do not include any animal by-products, in addition to not being tested on animals. Vegan products are made without meat, eggs, dairy or any animal-derived ingredients (including honey and beeswax), and have not been tested on animals at any point during the production process. Products labelled as “cruelty-free” simply means they are not tested on animals. Some “vegan” brands are owned by parent companies who test on animals (though banned in the EU, animal testing is required on many beauty items sold in China).
The vegan essentials we rate
MAKE-UP: CoverFX at Arnotts; Kripa Venezia, at Skinfull Affairs; Inika, www.inikaorganic.com. BRUSHES: RMSBeauty, at SpaceNK; Zoeva, at Arnotts; Nima, www.nimabrush.com. TAN: Irish brands TanOrganic and Bellamianta. HAIR: Rahua and Kevin Murphy, both at salons nationwide; L’Oréal Source Essentielle hair care. SKIN: Ria Organics; La Canopée, at Skinfull Affairs; Modern Botany, www.modernbotany.com. Neal’s
Yard Remedies, at Marks & Spencer. PERFUME: Abel, www.abelodor.com; Le Labo, www.lelabofragrances.com. SUNCARE: Suntegrity, www.suntegrityskincare.com; Lush Solid Sunscreen Block SPF30.
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