By Skincare Junkie Inc

Derm's Guide to Vegan Skincare

When skincare brands like Skincare Junkie® say that they are cruelty-free and vegan (we are vegan certified and Leaping Bunny certified), what exactly do they mean? What is vegan and cruelty-free skincare? Is vegan skincare better for your skin? We asked Dr. Murphy-Rose, founder of the vegan brand Skincare Junkie® and a board-certified dermatologist who recently returned from The Vegan Women Summit, to explain. 

What Is Vegan Skincare?

Vegan skincare means skincare products that are free of animal-derived ingredients—this also means that no animals were hurt or exploited to make the product. Skincare and beauty products can include an array of animal-derived ingredients: gelatin, honey, beeswax, squalene, lanolin, collagen, carmine, cholesterol, silk, and pearl, to name a few. 

“An important part of this is the strict adherence to a policy of no animal testing, not using animal parts or ingredients,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Also using manufacturers that are cruelty-free.” Vegan skincare products are formulated with plant-based ingredients and synthetic alternatives that aim to provide the same (or better) benefits without relying on animal sources. Other than being ethical, vegan skincare tends to have a lower environmental impact. 

Key ingredients in vegan skincare include: 

  1. Plant oils and butters: For example, argan oil, shea butter, and coconut oil are moisturizing and rich in antioxidants. 
  2. Botanical extracts: Such as green tea, chamomile, and aloe vera, known for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. 
  3. Synthetic alternatives: Vegan products may use synthetic (as in synthesized in a lab) versions of traditionally animal-derived ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, which can be derived from bacteria.
an image of vegan ingredients: chamomile and aloe


Is Vegan and Cruelty-Free Skincare the Same? 

This may be confusing, but vegan and cruelty-free mean different things. A skincare brand can claim to be cruelty-free and yet be non-vegan. Simply put, a cruelty-free skincare product means a product that has not been tested on animals and no animals have been harmed or exploited in the development of the product at all stages of formulation. A vegan skincare product is a product that contains no animal-derived ingredients. 

For the avoidance of doubt, it’s best to choose vegan AND cruelty-free products (like Skincare Junkie®). It is also worth noting that, especially when it comes to big-name skincare brands, it is possible for an individual skincare product or brand to be certified vegan and cruelty-free, but the larger company that owns them may not be. Do your research if you want to be 100% sure. 

Is Vegan Skincare Better for My Skin? 

“The benefits to vegan skincare are largely related to personal values and preferences," says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "There may be no differences in efficacy or experience from non-vegan counterparts. However, we feel that protecting other species and our environment really should be a universal tenet.”

The biggest benefit of vegan skincare is ensuring the safety of animals and leading a cruelty-free lifestyle. Vegan skincare in general tends to have a lower environmental impact because many vegan brands prioritize sustainability, using eco-friendly packaging and ethically sourced ingredients. 

Vegan skincare is an obvious choice for those who adhere to a vegan lifestyle. However, vegan does not mean safe. Plant-derived ingredients can still cause an allergy or skin irritation. As always, read product labels and do your research. To avoid common skin irritants, Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends looking out for vegan skincare products that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and preservative-free.


    an image of Skincare Junkie Megadose Super Antioxidant Face Moisturizer

    How to Know If a Skincare Product Is Vegan

    Whether you want to avoid animal suffering, minimize your environmental impact, or just want “cleaner” skincare products for your skin, with many skincare brands going vegan, it is definitely much easier to find vegan skincare nowadays. This is what Dr. Murphy-Rose advises to look out for: 

    1. Check certifications: Certifications by the Leaping Bunny, Vegan Society, or PETA are reliable indicators that a product is vegan. 
    2. Research ingredients: As always, read the label and do your research. Avoid animal-derived ingredients and seek out plant-based alternatives. Make sure you understand all ingredients and their impact on your skin. 
    3. Follow vegan brands: Such as Skincare Junkie®! Also, Vegan Society, Leaping Bunny, and PETA have vegan skincare brand directories. 

    How to Do Vegan Skincare: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Ready to dive into vegan skincare? Here’s a simple routine to get you started:


    an image of a woman's face, she is holding a slice of cucumber

    In the morning, protect and prevent: 

    1. Cleanse with vegan micellar water (check that it does not have animal-derived glycerin or collagen) if skin feels oily or skip cleansing if skin feels dry or “normal.” 
    2. Treat your skin with a vegan antioxidant serum and hydrate with a vegan moisturizer. Or use one vegan multitasking product like Skincare Junkie® Megadose Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer that hydrates and treats. 
    3. Apply vegan mineral SPF. 

    In the evening, hydrate and repair: 

    1. Cleanse with a gentle vegan cleanser suitable for your skin type. Look for products with soothing ingredients like aloe vera or cucumber. We recommend Skincare Junkie® Gently Jelly Facial Cleanser
    2. Treat your skin with active ingredients such as retinol, AHA, etc. Active ingredients can be animal-derived, so make sure you are opting for a plant-based version. 
    3. Hydrate with an effective vegan moisturizer. Some of the ingredients to look out for: plant-based ceramides, squalane, and hyaluronic acid