Confused about where to start with vegan beauty products? Want a skincare routine that makes sense?

We’ve seen a big increase in self-care and particularly skincare during the pandemic, as we’ve spent more time indoors, observing our pores (maybe a little too closely? I’m definitely guilty of that!) and having more time to look after ourselves.

So, I thought it would be great to partner with Boots for this article, where we do a deep dive into vegan beauty, what it is, how to get started and most importantly… Product recommendations for a morning and evening vegan skincare routine. Are you ready? Let’s do this!

What is vegan beauty?

It’s the practice of avoiding the use of animal products in your beauty products. 

Are cruelty-free beauty and vegan beauty the same thing?

I know it can get confusing, but actually no, they’re not! A brand may not test on animals but use animal derived ingredients (such as beeswax), therefore making the product only cruelty-free. And then, there are companies that may test on animals (such as in China, where it’s mandatory by law. Things are slowly changing but we’re not quite there yet), and they may release a product free from animal derived ingredients. In that case, the product is vegan but not cruelty-free. Does that make sense?

What to avoid?

Thankfully, the beauty industry has been moving away from animal-derived ingredients due to the rise in popularity of veganism, which is great news! However some practices and some ingredients still remain in the market, so here is a non-exclusive list of things to avoid, in true vegan beauty 101 style:

  • beeswax
  • lanolin
  • milk derived ingredients such as lactic acid, casein or probiotics (nowadays, most of these are made synthetically in labs so not to worry. But do make sure it doesn’t come straight from the animals)
  • carmine (mostly in makeup but sometimes found in serums and moisturisers)
  • mink (mostly found in makeup brushes and fake eyelashes)
  • shellac (mostly found in nail varnishes, which come from lac bugs!)

Back in the day, some companies used to source ingredients such as squalane from shark livers, or even glycerin from sheep and pork, but nowadays these can be made synthetically from either olives and sugarcane for the first case, and in a lab for the second.

Boots UK have provided a selection of products which do not contain any animal-derived ingredients (e.g. gelatine, honey) or animal by-products (e.g. hyaluronic acid from cockerel combs) so you can shop with peace of mind.

What products can you recommend?

This is the exciting part for me – as a self-confessed skincare addict (come follow me on my new Instagram account @martacangaskin where I talk all things skincare) who actually got a job offer to work as an esthetician! – this is the part that is the most fun to me, where I get to try and experiment. I have very sensitive, acne and rosacea-prone skin, so I hope these recommendations will be of use to you!

Example of an AM routine using vegan products only

I would start the day with the E.L.F. Cosmetics Superclarify. Made with gentle surfactants and niacinamide, this is the perfect step in the morning to start your skincare routine with prepped skin! Niacinamide is also a fab antioxidant so it’s perfect for morning use.

Follow your vegan morning skincare routine with this Boots Ingredients Turmeric Moisturiser. This vegan moisturiser is a great choice for all skin types, as it’s non comedogenic (aka doesn’t clog your pores), and has fantastic brightening ingredients such as turmeric extract (don’t worry, the cream doesn’t come out yellow and won’t stain anything!), my beloved niacinamide, shea butter, jojoba seed oil and allantoin. You really can’t go wrong with this one and it will effectively lock in hydration too! It’s also fragrance-free for those of you with sensitive skin like me.

Make sure to follow a morning skincare routine with an SPF 30+ to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays as well.

Finally, I do love me some mascara for everyday use. I had the opportunity to try the new E.LF. Cosmetics Big Mood Mascara. Affordable, free from beeswax, long-lasting, volumising and lengthening!

Example of a PM routine using vegan products only

I love double-cleansing. I love it. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. I highly recommend the E.L.F Holy Hydration Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm, to be used on dry skin, massaged in for 30-60 seconds, and wash off. I love this cleanser because it has hyaluronic acid for skin plumpness, ceramides for skin barrier protection, and peptides for anti-ageing and hydration benefits. This is an amazing technique used to melt your SPF, grime and pollution of the day, and perfect for any vegan makeup routine. Follow it with the actual skin cleanse with the Sukin Brightening Radiance Gel Cleanser. This cleanser has a lovely, refreshing scent, and I love to use two pumps at night to make sure I properly cleanse the skin. It contains naturally exfoliating ingredients from papaya and pineapple, so I highly suggest this one at night for that extra little bit of exfoliation that we all need for glowy skin!

You can of course squeeze in some kind of serum, and boots has a wide range of vegan serums you can choose. I would opt for some kind of retinol.

As per moisturiser, I like using thicker creams at night to really prevent trans-epidermal water loss. I tried the Botanics Revive & Protect Postbiotic Moisturiser with black tea kombucha and I really liked it! Fermenting skincare ingredients adds a whole bunch of additional antioxidants and makes it more bio-compatible with the skin, which is something relatively new and growing in trend so I’m all here for it! It was lightweight but not heavy or thick, packed with hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, sodium hyaluronate and panthenol and of course, niacinamide.

As a final step in your evening skincare routine, feel free to add a few drops of your favourite vegan facial oil. Botanics has this really simple, straight to the point one with non-clogging oils called the 100% organic Nourishing Daily Facial Oil, which is ideal for night use as it will make the edges of your skin cells softer, providing that extra glow when you wake up in the morning.

Thanks, Boots, for sponsoring today’s article, you can find this selection of products right here!

Hope you enjoyed today’s post and don’t forget to comment your thoughts down below 🙂

All my love,

Marta x