What is Vegan Skincare?-2023 Guide

Vegan Skincare – the latest buzzword in the natural formulation world. But what exactly is it? Should you use it? And how to find it?

What is vegan skincare?

Thirty years ago, being vegetarian was seen as something verging on weird or eccentric.

Sure some folks did it for religious or ethical reasons but it was definitely not mainstream.

Back then the vegetarian an option in a restaurant was often a boring jacket potato.

Nowadays it’s weird not to be on a restricted menu of some form.

An illustration of this was yesterday’s massage client who claimed she ate ‘normally’.

Turned out she’s both vegan and macrobiotic.

Most people are avoiding something * – wheat, dairy, palm oil, gluten, sugar, fat, carbs, nuts, artificial flavours sweeteners or colours, MSG, salt, hydrogenated fats, Genetically Modified, flown in by air, over packed, wrapped in plastic, grown out of season, produced with child labour or even grown with too much water.

These days, Veggies are cool. And in some circles it’s the unspoken expected social etiquette.

So that it’s now the latest marketing catch all for skincare is unsurprising.

I expect any of the items in the list above (see *) to become The Next Hot Fad! You heard that here first…lol.

How do you spot a ‘Vegan’ formulation, other than the obvious Vegan logo?

First you need to find out if they test on animals. If they sell to China, the answer is yes, it’s compulsory. Hey, did you expect anything different from there? I mean if child labour is ok then who cares about animals? Any brand that sells into China has to test on animals it is part of Chinese law.

When you shop on a budget, the problem is brands that are sold in the high street eg Aveeno, Garnier, Olay, Neutrogena, St. Ives all test their products on animals. So they are not cruelty-free.

How to avoid animal -derived ingredients?

Well you need to read the label – the full ingredients listing not the ‘superhero’ extracts added in micro doses. You must check the entire formulation.

If in doubt- ask.

Examples of animal products or by-products

Shark liver oil

used for its skin feel and to diminish fine lines, discovered by a Japanese scientist back in the early 1900’s. There are plant alternative of course! Squalane extracted from olives, amaranth, rice bran or sunflower for instance. Squalane is great for skin that’s dry or dehydrated as it locks in moisture and I use it in my Empress Elixir!

Snail slime

– trendy and used for it’s allantoin, elastin, minerals and vitamins.. Popular in French, Italian and Spanish products. The snail’s are ‘made angry’ by washing and shaking them. Factories claim this is a cruelty free approach and you can even buy certified organic snail slime…. Plant alternatives exist, eg comfrey is rich in allantoin.

And if you’re a vegan and have an allotment/veggie patch. Do you share your lettuces etc with the snails by planting extra?  Or do you drown them in beer pots?

Crocodile fat

– fat from the tail is used in speciality formulae for treating eczema. I’ve bought a lip balm from the croc farm in Durban. Unusual to find this on offer. A curious fact – only fat from the tail area is used- elsewhere it is toxic!

Snake venom

– popular in boutique products. There are plant-based alternatives for botox-like effects. Again consider do you want to look frozen or fresh? You can use the Paracress herb instead of snake venom to get  botox-like effects. I use this plant-alternative in Drench.

Caviar Extract

– popular in boutique products. Quite what effect this had on the skin I don’t know but I suspect it was for label appeal. In any case, there are plant alternatives for both proteins and fats, eg lecithin from sunflowers or non GM soya.  Seaweed is rich in amino acid and proteins.  No need to rob sturgeons of their eggs.

Pearl extract

– used in TCM for millennia for the amino acids etc. Again you need to decide if this is for you. Pearls are self defence mechanisms formed by the mollusc when an irritation is introduced. Most cultured pearls come from…. China. (Are you spotting a pattern yet?)

I bought some Pearl powder during lockdown to see what the fuss was about – wont be making it a regular ongoing product offering as it quite frankly, stank.  Something between old egg shells, clipped toe nails and greasy hair. Not pleasant.

Beeswax, honey or propolis

– all these have health benefits. You need to decide whether you’re ok with using them or not. We need bees to fertilise all our flowers, fruits etc. If you avoid beeswax, there are plant or petroleum based alternatives to firm up formulations eg in lip balms. (So maybe there will be trend to recycling/upcycling petroleum by-products?)

Goats Milk, Camel milk

– any dairy. (Lactic acid isn’t from dairy, it’s made in labs through fermentation) – again health benefits – but the mommy animals are kept pregnant. Expressing milk hurts and it weakens the mother’s bones and teeth. Having breastfed for many years I write from experience.

During lockdown I bought some yoghurt from Hill and Coombe Dairy in Chagford TQ13 8JY that allows the calves to stay with Mommy!  It tasted AMAZING.  Advertised as Live Natural Organic Yoghurt from grass-fed jersey cows that keep their calves. Ingredients pasteurized A2  wholemilk.   And the product came in a totally reusable glass jar that can be used for jam, sauerkraut, kombucha, storing pulses, nuts or leftovers or more likely repurposed in the Glow Studio for various experiments.   Zero waste.


from moths. Used in anti aging skincare, soaps and lotions. Some varieties use the damaged cases where the moth has escaped.

I’ve tested silk out in soaps – adds a lovely silky feel to them.


(used to boost collagen)

To conclude.. there are MANY natural formulations out there that are vegan.

When you’re using plant-based ingredients like shea butter, avocado, argan etc – these are all from plants.

What about palm oil?

Well it is a plant – BUT it’s use has caused destruction of rainforest habitat.

If your reason for going vegan is ethical then palm oil may not be for you.

Although I am a carnivore, I do not use palm oil in my products.

Will I be going for the official ‘Vegan Society’ accreditation?

No – the cost is huge in both energy, time and money. And those costs would need to be passed on. No thanks. It’s the same rational behind having organic Soil Association or Ecocert certification – it could be done but would mean raising prices.

I already went the palm oil free route back in 2012 before saving the rainforests were mainstream trendy!!

And at the end of the day, any woman concerned about what she uses on her face, can check ingredients labels, ask questions and do her own research.

Order your Try-Me Experience today

Is Glow Skincare suitable for vegans?


All the products, except lip balm which contains beeswax to harden it, are suitable for vegans. They are made from organic plant-based ingredients… zero palm oil. Handcrafted by me in a small studio in Devon – no child labour!! My recipes are powerful so that you don’t need to buy loads of things. A simple routine, plant-based, for a healthy biome, that is kind to the planet.

Glow Skincare – good for the planet, clean plant-based ingredients that respect your skin biome.

Review by Kim Thalheimer
Review by Kim Thalheimer
wendy gardner

About Me

Wendy Gardner is the aromatherapist and skincare alchemist at Glow Skincare. She's the author of Dare to Go Bare and host for the Aspie in Menopause podcast. When she's not making creams, or looking after the wild birds, she likes to draw and read.

Diploma in Aromatherapy (ITHMA London, 2003)

Usui Reiki Master. Ovate Grade (OBOD)

Distant Healing

Item added to cart.
0 items - £0