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Ingredients To Avoid When Shopping For Vegan Cosmetics

Here at The Quick Flick, we are massive animal lovers and one of our core values both as a brand and as individuals is that no animal should be harmed in the production of cosmetics or skincare! We believe this so deeply that we are proud to say we have always been, and will always be, a brand that is cruelty-free and only uses vegan ingredients! 

Navigating the ingredients list on your beauty products can be daunting, with many brands using the scientific name or code. To help you on your shopping journey we’ve put together a list of key ingredients to avoid if you’re searching for a vegan product. This list isn’t exhaustive, and we know there are many more non-vegan ingredients out there, so don’t hesitate to contact our Beauty Advisor’s through our Instagram or Facebook Group for more information on any ingredient! 

Cera Alba (Beeswax) 

Many cosmetic brands love using beeswax or cera alba in their formulations as it creates a barrier to protect the skin without clogging pores. It has hydrating properties and is considered hypo-allergenic making it great for sensitive skin types. You will often see beeswax as a key ingredient in lipsticks and thicker creams or moisturisers. 

There is a lot of contradictory information about the bee industry, with some keepers cutting off the wings of the queen bee to ensure she cannot leave the colony and others having her artificially inseminated by bees who are then killed. Other beekeepers claim to practice organic living conditions where harmful pesticides are not used, and no harm can come to the bees or queen. It’s important to note that regardless of the keeping practices, bees produce beeswax for their own needs, and it is often taken from them for human consumption.  

Some of our favourite plant-based alternatives include carnauba wax (copernicia cerifera cera) which is sourced from the leaves of a Brazilian palm, and berry wax (rhus verniciflua peel cera) which is often used in balms and pencil products. 

Fun fact we use Carnauba Wax in the formulation of our classic Quick Flick Winged Eyeliner Stamp! 

Squalene (Harvested From Shark Liver Oil) 

With renowned moisturising and restorative properties, Squalene is a popular ingredient in a variety of skincare and cosmetic products. It is often used in formulations to increase absorption levels for creams and is common in anti-aging products. 

Squalene naturally occurs in a range of animals and plants, most notably human sebum. It is one of the many lipids the body produces to protect against environmental factors

Sadly this compound is often synthesised from shark liver oil, which can only be obtained through shark hunting. It takes 3,000 sharks to produce 1 tonne of squalene. This practice is heart-breaking and has serious environmental consequences for our ocean life, with several targeted species already listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list. 

The great news is that there are several plant-based alternatives that we can source squalene from. Some of our favourites include sugarcane, olives, rice bran, and wheat germ. The most noticeable difference between obtaining squalene from these alternatives is that they contain significantly smaller volumes of the compound and as such require large harvests of the plant source. 

We highly recommend you reach out to your favourite skincare brands to confirm where their squalene is sourced from, it’s a great product to use on your skin – but only when sourced ethically.

Placenta (Often Derived From Sheep) 

There has been a lot of conversation around the perceived benefits of placenta (both from humans and animals) over the years, and in all honesty it’s a trend we wish would just go away. 

The key claims from those who are pro-placenta are increased collagen production, anti-aging properties, and increased skin rejuvenation. These products tend to be expensive and have minimal cosmeceutical testing to reinforce their claims. With little-to-no scientific evidence to support the use of placenta in cosmetics and skincare, you are essentially paying a steep price for a marketing tactic that unfortunately makes monetary gains from using animal by-products. 

We believe there are many other ingredients on the market that provide better benefits without harming animals. Some of our favourites are Retinol (Vitamin A) and Niacinamide (Vitamin B). 

Lanolin (Wool Grease) 

At its core, Lanolin is an oil produced by sheep in order to keep their wool coats waterproof. Lanolin is classed as an emollient which means it holds hydrating properties and prevents moisture from being drawn out of the skin without clogging pores. The industry obtains lanolin from the shorn wool from sheep and use it mostly in lip balms and heavy-duty moisturisers.  

Our favourite vegan alternatives to recreate the hydrating properties of lanolin, include Coconut Oil and Hyaluronic Acid. Both of these ingredients hydrate the skin, with Coconut Oil being a great ingredient in lip products as well as one of our favourite sources of Vitamin E, and Hyaluronic Acid being a skincare favourite for those with acne prone skin.  

Carmine (Crushed-Up Beetles) 

Found under various names on ingredients lists, Carmine (also known as CI 75470, cochineal extract, natural red 4, or crimson lake) is a beetle extract often used to create colour vibrancy in cosmetics and food. It’s sad to say that this ingredient is obtained by harvesting and crushing the exoskeleton of the female Cochineal Beetle (Dactylopius Confuses). Many brands use carmine to create vibrant reds and cool pinks in their cosmetics and claim that this is a ‘natural dye’. This might technically be a natural product as it is derived from an animal, but it isn’t a vegan one! 

At The Quick Flick we prefer to use products that contain plant or fruit-based dyes to create pigmentationWe also use iron oxide based pigments to create intense colour payoff in our liners, such as CI 77499 in Intense Black, CI 75120 in Hot Summer, and CI 77491 in Cherry BombYou can read more about our ingredients here.

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