do you know the ingredients in your beauty products

Do You Know What Animal Derived Ingredients Are In your Beauty Bag?

Here’s what you need to know about animal derived ingredients to keep your self-care routine as cruelty-free and as vegan as possible.

Though many products are marked as either vegan or cruelty-free. In Australia, for a brand to make their products passed all the ticks to receive the vegan or cruelty-free tick of approval on their packaging, they have to go through a lot of red tape. Honestly, the government doesn’t make it very easy for a brand to get them.

This means, there are a host of brands who are actually vegan and cruelty-free, but have not received the stamp of approval, so are not able to advertise that they are such products and nor can they promote it on their packaging.

So instead of replying on what information a brand is providing you through marketing, learn what products to keep an eye out for on the ingredient list of the product. If any of these (which are some of the most common) are listed on the ingredient list on the packaging, then skip them, as they are definitely not cruelty-free or vegan.

Here are the ten most commonly used animal derived ingredients to watch out for when shopping for you next beauty products.

Lanolin: Commonly found in hand and body creams, this ingredient is secreted from the skin of sheep. Though no sheep are hurt in the process of obtaining lanolin, it is known for its heaviness. Which means if used on the face, it can be waxing as a lubricant for dry skin, and may block pores. A better alternative, which is also completely cruelty-free so to speak, is Castor Oil or Shea Butter from plants.

Carmine: This is a vibrant red dye extracted from crushed cochineal beetles, an ancient technique from many ancient cultures from around the world, such as the Egyptians and Greeks. It is used to colour many red lipsticks used today by big brands, and has also been seen as an ingredient in some ice-creams and yoghurts. Yes, you heard that right. Look for products which contain natural dyes from fruits and vegetables instead.

Honey, Beeswax, Royal Jelly or Propolis: Often used as a humectant to bind oil and water together in skincare products, and help to seal in moisture on the skin for hydration. There are plenty of plant-based ingredients to replace ones from bees. Look for ingredients like agave nectar or vegetable glycerine, candelilla or carnauba.

Gelatin: This is a thickening agent and found in a lot of foods. But it is also found in a variety of beauty products as well, like collagen products. Gelatin is a product of ground bones from either cows, chickens or marine animals. There are loads of now available plant-based collagen ingredients like hemp, soy and even pea protein contain plant-based collagen.

Guanine: Derived from fish scales, this ingredient is what’s found is a variety of eyeshadows and lipsticks which give off a slight shimmer to the shade. Look for alternative ingredients like mica and synthetic pearl or even iron oxides which give the same natural shimmer effect which is cruelty-free and vegan.

Squalene: Most brands today have ditched animal based squalene ingredients from shark and squid, and replaced with either synthetic ones or plant-based one from olives. However, there are still a few brands here or there who still use the animal-derived squalene. Jojoba oil is another natural alternatives which mimics the skin natural sebum to hydrate skin.

Keratin: This is a fibrous ingredient found in animal hair, and other parts of animals I prefer to to mention, like beaks etc. Pretty horrible actually when you think about it. It is found in many haircare products as a smoothing agent to help keep hair soft and hydrated without any frizziness. Look for alternatives made from rice, wheat and other plant oils which make a good replacement for the animal ones.

Hyaluronic Acid: Known as the holy grail ingredient of skin care, as it locks in moisture and even attracts moisture from the surrounded air to your skin to keep it hydrated, most people would be surprised to find out this magical ingredient is actually derived from s rooster combo. Shocking actually. Innovative vegan brands use ingredients which have been bacterial fermented from plants, and it is a worthy replacement for animal ones.

Stearic Acid: Found in a variety of skincare products, this ingredient is used to prevent static and reduce friction making it easier for producers to spread on skin. Especially for oily skin types. Look for brands who use vegetables oils as a replacement for the animal-derived ones. However, you may need to contact brands directly, as many won’t list whether it is plant-based or animal.

AHAS, Alpha-Hydroxy Acids: Acid based exfoliants and glycolic acids are often derived from animals. As it’s considered a lactic acid, it is mostly sourced from milk products. though many brands have ditched this method due to allergies, and are focusing on using ingredients such as sugar cane, there are still some brands who will source their acid from the secretion of snails (crikey!). Check with brands who use plant-based glycol’s sourced from fruit enzymes like pineapple and papaya and even pumpkin.

I am a freelance writer and content creator who designs website and manages social media. I also write travel and beauty for, and a weekly beauty column for whilst managing my own personal travel and lifestyle blog at

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