• Ellie Stennett

5 Common animal ingredients found in your cosmetics and vegan-friendly alternatives

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

We can spend hours upon hours researching into cruelty-free logos and animal testing policies, but we also need to be sure that any of those strange sounding ingredients on the back of our makeup or skincare products have not been derived from an animal.

If you're a vegan, or trying to make more vegan-friendly changes, it's easy to spot the obvious non-vegan ingredients like beeswax, but what about the ingredients that are a little more, shall we say, difficult to spot? In this blog post we're going to explore 5 common, but hidden, animal ingredients to help shopping more vegan-friendly a little easier!

Before we start, I just want to make note that some ingredients that can be derived from both plants or animals can have the same name, but without the source being identified (i.e. squalane). The only way to know for sure where the ingredient has been obtained from, unless it states it's from a plant, is by checking with the brand/company.

Here are 5 common animal ingredients that can be found in your cosmetics to look out for and their vegan-friendly alternatives:


Possibly the most popular ingredient in most of L'Oreal's shampoo adverts, but did you know this ingredient is a protein that comes from ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, or hair of various animals? Keratin is often used in hair care and nail products as a strengthener.

Keratin can also be know as Hydrolyzed Keratin Protein, Hydrolyzed Animal Protein, Keratin Amino Acids, Queratan Powder, Keliwool, Kera-Tein 1000- SD, Bio-Keratin PF.

For a vegan-friendly alternative, try looking for soy protein, vegetable proteins, amla oil, Vegekeratin or wheat protein.


Makeup has to be coloured somehow, right? but did anyone ever think it would be dyed using boiled and crushed beetles? Carmine is a pigment used to give some lipsticks, blushes and eyeshadows their red hue. To get this ingredient, the female cochineal insect (dactylopius coccus) is boiled, filtered and mixed with different substances to achieve varying shades of red. Yummy.

Carmine can also be know as cochineal, cochineal extract, carminic acid, crimson lake or carmine lake, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120.

For a vegan-friendly alternative, try looking for lycopene, fruit and vegetable dye, and natural iron oxide.



Animal fat, often knows as stearic acid, is a substance that’s found in both plants and animals. When derived from animals, stearic acid comes from the fat of cows, pigs, sheep, and sometimes dogs, and cats. It’s typically used as a thickening agent and can be found in many lubricants, hairspray, deodorants, face creams, candles and chewing gum.

Stearic Acid is also know as: Stearamide, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine, Stearyl Imidazolin.

It is also important to note that Stearyl Alcohol is derived from Stearic Acid, and Zinc Stearate is a Zinc salt of Stearic Acid, used in some cosmetics as a colorant and anti-caking agent.

For a vegan-friendly alternative, try looking for Plant-Based Stearic Acid, Vegetable Tallow, Japan Tallow, Soy Lecithin, Shea Butter and cocoa beans.



It’s hard to believe that many of us have been smearing endangered, 450 million year old super predators on our face without being aware of it. But sadly, it’s true.

Shark liver oil, known as squalene, is often found in lip balms, deodorants, shampoos and moisturisers. It is used as a moisturising ingredient.

Try looking for these ingredients instead: Olive oils, avocado oils, Vitamin E oil, plant-derived squalene,


Lanolin is a greasy, waxy substance derived from wool. It is important to note that sheeps are not slaughtered for this ingredient to be obtained. However, we can not be sure, unless it is stated by the brand/suppliers, that the animal was raised and kept in ethical conditions so it's best to avoid using lanolin where you can. When in doubt, leave it out - right?

Lanolin is commonly found in products with a 'greasier' texture, such as lipstick, lip balm, lotions, and creams.

Other names for lanolin include Amerchol L101, Cholesterin, Aliphatic Alcohol, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Acids. Wool Fat. Wool Wax, Lanolin Alcohols, Lanosterols, Sterols, Triterpene Alcohols.

Try looking out for these ingredients instead: Coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, soy wax.

If you see something that you believe to be incorrect- please do get in touch with me. Until next time,

Ellie x

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