The number of vegans in the United States is growing. Slowly, but surely, Americans are leaving animal products behind in favor of a sustainable and cruelty-free lifestyle.
Vegans now make up 2.5% of the U.S. population -- more than double the percentage in 2009. Interestingly, of the approximately one million vegans in the United States, 79 percent of them are women. Animal byproducts appear in a lot of cosmetics -- some of the common offenders include fish scales (known as "guanine" on the ingredients list), animal fat (often listed as "tallow"), and beetlejuice (commonly shows up as "carmine"). Ethics aside, that's enough to make me reconsider my former buying choices.
Perhaps then it is not surprising that there has been an upsurge in the number of vegan and cruelty-free beauty products available on the market. Many vegans live by the principle that they will not consume animal products in any form -- veganism goes beyond simply what they eat, and many vegans (myself included) take care to carefully choose all products they use with an eye to animals and the environment.
Though there are many great vegan beauty alternatives to common products, these are my top six choices, which may help you make the transition away from products made with animal products or tested on animals.
1. Hello! Hair Hydrating Mask: Island Escape Edition
For many of us, summer means long days in the sun -- and that can be a lot of damage for your hair. Significant sun exposure can cause hair to become weak and dry, leading to split ends. Personally, I spend a lot of the summer outside, be it at the beach, walking to work, or having lunch in the sun. My hair's taken quite a beating, so I jumped in the chance to revive my brittle and straggly strands. The Hello! Hair Hydrating Mask utilizes coconut oil, grape seed oil, and castor oil as its major ingredients, with the goal of repairing and revitalizing dry hair. I do this mask once a week and it always leaves my hair soft, shiny, and full.
2. Tarte Park Ave Princess Contour Palette
One of my favorite things about summer is getting a warm glow. The Park Ave Princess Contour Palette is a 3 in 1 combination which includes a blush, bronzer, and highlighter. The bronzer requires a gentle touch and is very build-able, perfect for providing a sun-kissed glow. The blush, in Posh, is a universal and fun pink, while the highlighter, in Champagne, is peachy and fresh. The combination helps my face look like I just left the beach, even on days I'm stuck inside.
3. The Wonder Seed Hand Cream
This hemp seed cream is extremely rich and moisturizing - which isn't surprising, considering hemp is packed with vitamins, like A, C and E, which promote skin health. The skin on my hands and feet gets painfully dry and cracked during the summer months, but this lotion really did the trick to give my skin elasticity and glow. It's free of parabens and artificial fragrances, but still has a delightful scent in Spring Lavender.
4. Smart Ash Teeth Whitener + Detoxifier
Nothing quenches my thirst like an iced coffee or tea, especially in the heat. Unfortunately, these beverages (along with one of my other great loves, red wine) can cause some major discoloration on my teeth. Once a week I replace my regular toothpaste with the smart ash teeth whitener to give my mouth a deep cleanse and a whitening effect. I have very sensitive teeth, so I'm really weary of most whiteners on the market, but I haven't experienced any discomfort with this one! It's fluoride free, hydrogen peroxide free, with no artificial dyes or flavors.
5. Pacifica Super Powder Eye Shadow Trio
I'm pretty conservative with eyeshadow colors, but I'm always looking to try new products. This shadow is vegan and cruelty-free, and the trio contains three sun-inspired shades: breathless, glowing, and sunset. Paired with a subtle cat eye and simple mascara, I think this eyeshadow offers the perfect subtle shimmer to keep your summer look alive.
6.The Fanciful Fox Black Magic Scrub
This stuff is amazing. Personally, I have oily skin and am prone to blackheads and clogged pores, so I went with the Black Magic scrub which is aimed at oily and problematic skin. With Dead Sea Mud, avocado oil, and Tahitian Black Sand as a few of the key ingredients, this scrub is gentle but works effectively to counteract the excess oils which clog my pores. It also leaves my skin feeling really soft and refreshed. I use it every couple of days and it only requires a tiny bit (mixed with water) so I've barely made a dent in my container.
One of my favorite ways to try new vegan beauty products is by seeking out small businesses which share my passion for veganism and plant-based living. That said, I'm lucky to live in a city where veganism isn't an alien concept. For people who aren't close to local shops but still want to explore vegan beauty and cosmetics, I really recommend trying out a subscription service, like VeganCuts, which curates and ships new products on a monthly basis. I also love scouring Etsy for new products, especially vegan candles and bath products. Recently, I've found and fallen in love with the vegan-friendly brand e.l.f., which is affordable (many of their products are only $1!) and sold at major stores like Target, Walmart and Walgreens.
You can follow Marissa Higgins on Instagram, at yourfavoritevegan, to keep up with her recipes, reviews, and insights into veganism and plant-based living.