We may be seeing more vegan options on menus and supermarkets than ever before, but the vegan lifestyle extends to more than what's on our plates.
The demand for vegan beauty has never been higher, leading to a welcome burst of fresh new makeup brands offering high performing products that perform just as well as their traditional predecessors.
But with everyone from established brands to fresh-faced newcomers trying to win the hearts and pounds of customers with their green credentials, how can you tell what's truly vegan and what's not?
What’s the difference between cruelty-free and animal-free?
Natural, ethical, sustainable, organic: it can be hard to cut through the marketing noise and find out which products are truly vegan.
PETA offers a helpful definition: “Cruelty-free” means that products were created without cruel, archaic testing on animals. Vegan products are defined as being cruelty-free as well as free of animal-derived ingredients.”
So that means beauty that contains none of the following on its ingredients list: beeswax, gelatine, lanolin, collagen, silk, dairy or honey. To cut to the quick, if it came from an animal - it's not vegan.
How can you tell if a brand is ethical?
The best way is to read the About Me section online, look out for Vegan trademark sign from the Vegan Society. Steer clear of products made in China as animal testing is required by law there.
See our favourite all-vegan brands below
MUA has always been committed to bringing the masses cruelty-free beauty but it recently updated its entire collection to ensure it's 100 per cent vegan too, coming good on a pledge it made to its customers in January 2019.
The brand ensured all new product launches over the last 12 months flew the flag for vegan beauty as well as working to reformulate the existing ranges to make them completely animal-friendly. MUA collected the data they found along the way to release its first ever Vegan Beauty Report, which also reveals that 68 per cent of people wouldn't know if an ingredient was vegan unless they looked it up. It's commendable that while we're all still grappling with veganism and trying to make better choices, this makeup brand has taken the confusion out by making its collection all-vegan.
It doesn' hurt that the products are tantalisingly cheap either. MUA is the place to go to for quick thrills - prices rarely nudge beyond a tenner, even for the incredible 20-shade eyeshadow palettes - making it perfect for trying the latest trends without breaking the bank.
Kat Von D – now KvD Vegan Beauty
Formerly owned by the celebrity tattoo and makeup artist Kat Von D, the brand has changed hands to Kendo, the same producer who makes Fenty and Marc Jacobs Beauty.
Built on 12 years of offering 100 per cent vegan makeup that challenged modern beauty ideals, the new owners are changing the name to KvD Vegan Beauty but the current collection will remain on shelves and the brand will continue to specialise in vegan-only products.
Wrapped in black or Gothic packaging, KvD Vegan Beauty has all you need to create everything from a high-fashion look to off-duty makeup for the weekend.
A favourite with makeup artists of every level, Lime Crime shouts about its vegan credentials about as loudly as some of the colours in its eyeshadow palette. Not that we're complaining, because the beauty offering is sensational.
So often, the word vegan conjures a budget look or cut-rate alternatives. Not so with DearDahlia, where everything from the packaging and the richly-pigmented formulas say luxe with confidence.
While the packaging might look familiar to a certain BadGal’s collection, all DearDahlia’s cosmetics are completely vegan - no compromises.
Our star pick? The dual palettes which come with a mirror, two eyeshadows and a multi-balm to swipe across cheeks, eyes and lips as you wish.
Radiant glowy makeup that’s vegan too? Just a click away at Cover FX, whose dazzling Custom Enhancer Drops are legendary. Available in no less than seven shades, use the integrated pipet to mix a few – and we really mean only a few because each packs a blinding gleam of light – drops into your foundation for an all-over glow or sparingly pat along the top of cheekbones for instant highlight.
There’s also foundation, concealer and blush to add to your beauty kit as well as setting sprays to help your freshly crafted look last from dawn to dusk.
As well as fully vegan and cruelty-free, the brand has a long-standing commitment to ‘clean’ ingredients so you won’t find talc, parabens, scent, mineral oil, gluten, sulphates or phthalates in any of their products either. Pretty fantastic.
From across the Atlantic comes this vegan beauty heavyweight, another wildly popular name on everyone's lips in the beauty community. Despite its name, the brand steers clear of animal by-products in its ingredients list, opting instead for vegan alternatives that are also chemical-free.
Bestsellers include Kush High Volume Mascara, made with highly conditioning oils that come from plants and the multi-use Lip + Cheek stick which comes in five shades - a handbag heroes if ever we saw one.
Cruelty-free, vegan and inclusive, e.l.f stands for every eye, lips and face. The range is aimed at a 20s audience, with an even spread of makeup and skincare. Palettes are full of easy, wearable colours with a little glitter twist thrown in, while the Flawless Finish Foundation, which comes in 40 shades and costs just £7.50, will give you the long-lasting coverage that you would expect from a product triple its price.
Cult Candy Cosmetics
As well as making moves to become more ethical, beauty brands are becoming more inclusive too, acknowledging that men as well as women like to experiment with makeup. A nominee in the ASOS Beauty Awards, Cult Candy Cosmetics is built around the core belief that makeup is for everyone, whether they identify as him, her or non-binary.
But be warned: it's not one for shy, retiring types. Palettes feature the sort of day-glo hues DC Comics’ Harley Quinn would kill for, but don't let that scare you off. There are a few more sober options for those who want to dabble in colour too.
We’ve got our eye on this bubble-gum pink liquid lipstick which dries matte – the perfect colour to cheer up a grey day.
Florence by Mills
Full of gentle, softly enhancing colours at a budget-friendly price (from £10 - £34), this may have started off as beauty for Gen Z-ers, but it appeals to customers across the board thanks to the highly wearable palette of cheek and lip colours.
It comes from 15 year-old Netflix Originals star Millie Bobby Brown, whose supernatural girl-next-door look has won fans across the world. Launched in September 2019, Florence is not only a committed vegan brand, but it’s also suitable for all skin types, dermatologically tested, infused with vitamins and botanicals, and free from irritants such as parabens, sulphates and synthetic fragrances.
If you’re not sure what to try first, we recommend the Cheek Me Later Cream Blush (available in six colours) which can be used sparingly on cheeks and dabbed onto lips for a fresh, rosy glow.
When vegan beauty looks this good, the concept of anything else is a Stranger Thing (not at all sorry).
Looking for stop-traffic lipstick that's vegan to boot? Look no further than Axiology, where luxe matte finish colour is the order of the day. They're formulated with leaf-derived candelilla wax rather than beeswax which works to keep your lips hydrated and plump.
What's more, the collection is free of parabens, petrochemicals and animal testing while managing to be completely organic too. Is it any wonder we're obsessed?
Makeup brands with vegan beauty products
Makeup brands are reflecting the nation's curiosity for vegan products with all-vegan products or special collections. Below are some notable names from the world of beauty who are making the effort to go greener in 2020.
The brand of the moment, Glossier is one of the most coveted brands around. While not all the products are vegan, there are lots of makeup and skincare must-haves that are, such as Brow Flick, Perfecting Skin Tint, Wowder finishing powder and Generation G sheer matte lipstick which come in six shades to suit every complexion.
The beauty favourite, known for its incredible highlighters and blush in particular, has pledged to become fully vegan by 2020.
While Rihanna's makeup collection can't be considered fully free of animal by-products, there are some items that the brand considers vegan-friendly: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Match Stix Matte Skinsticks, Invisimatte Blotting Powder, Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer, as well as many of the brand's brushes and other beauty tools.
Vegan friendly products from Illamasqua include Skin Base Foundation, Beyond Powder (various shades), Hydra Veil Primer, Iconic Chromes, Loaded Lip Polish and brushes.
All Eyeko eyeliners, the Yoga and Beach Mascara, Define It Brow Pencil, new Galactic Lid Gloss and Eye Boost Serum are all vegan.
Made to withstand the most punishing of workouts, SportFX is a new makeup and skincare brand designed with fitness fans in mind. They promise that once applied their long-lasting formulas won’t budge, even through a 45min spin class or run club in the rain. They’re also paraben-free, non-comedegenic and lots of the range is vegan certified.
Coco & Eve
You've no doubt seen their hair masks all over Instagram, such is their popularity with everyone from your cousins to office junior. Slather on and enjoy luscious locks in as little as ten minutes.
While not every product in the Urban Decay collection are entirely animal free, the brand does offer a vegan-only range that includes bold colour palettes any makeup junkie would love to own, making it a great gift idea too.