The vegan movement is growing fast. Nearly 10 million Americans identify as vegan today, a 300 percent increase from 15 years ago. Vegans reject the commodification of animals and abstain from using animal products in their diets and other areas of their lives. Recently, the vegan philosophy has been increasingly embraced in the world of cosmetics and skincare as people seek to keep their skin healthy and to look their best while following their moral convictions.
“Growing up I had really bad acne and quickly fell in love with makeup at an early age,” Chloe Coscarelli, famed vegan chef, author, and restaurateur said. “I loved how makeup made me feel, but I didn’t love how it sometimes made my skin even worse. So, I started paying attention to what was in my makeup and how it was made.”
“Throughout my 18-year vegan journey I’ve learned so much about how to make better choices when it comes to skincare and cosmetics,” said Coscarelli, who was the first vegan chef to win Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2010 when she was just 23 years old. Since then she’s gone on to build a vegan cooking empire, opening restaurants and publishing several cookbooks. She also offers virtual corporate cooking classes.
Coscarelli lives and breathes the vegan philosophy. She thinks we should apply the same thought and care we put into our diet and grocery shopping to the cosmetics we use. That starts with understanding the basic terminology. “All the different labels and certifications out there can definitely get confusing,” she admitted. “Even I have bought products thinking they are fully vegan by the way they are marketed, only to come home and research them further and find out they are not.”
Much of the confusion comes from the way some brands use the term ‛cruelty-free’ to confuse consumers. “‛Vegan’ means the product was not made with any animal ingredients,” explained Coscarelli. “‛Cruelty-free’ means the product was not tested on animals.”
Even then, Coscarelli warns you can’t solely rely on labels and suggests you have to do your research. “Sometimes a specific cosmetic line does not test on animals, but their parent company does.”
The right brand
Once you’re educated on what to look for, the next step is to identify brands that follow vegan and cruelty-free policies. “It’s much easier to pick your vegan and cruelty-free brand first and then shop for products within that brand,” Coscarelli advised. That saves you from having to scrutinize the tiny print on product labels and simplifies the process. Many people don’t realize that seemingly innocuous ingredients in cosmetics and skincare products are not vegan or cruelty-free, like the beeswax used in most common lip balms, lanolin (taken from sheep’s wool), carmine (from the cochineal bug), or guanine (from fish scales).
Coscarelli’s love for makeup is tied to her personal style, which is bright, fun, and natural. “I love doing a bold bright lip,” she shared. But she also noted that you don’t need fancy brands or expensive products to get the best skincare. “Coconut oil is one of my fave moisturizers for skin and hair,” she explained, noting it’s both vegan and cruelty-free.
Our choices of skincare and cosmetic products can have a huge impact — on the world and our health. “Since our skin is our largest organ, I think it is definitely beneficial to think twice about what we put on it and what it absorbs,” Coscarelli noted. “I feel better knowing that I hold the same standards for what I put on my body as I do for what I put in my body.”