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Animal Ingredients in Skin Care and Cosmetics

We thought we’d do a short article on some of the less pleasant animal (or potentially animal) ingredients that can appear in skin, hair and beauty products.  We’d prefer to avoid them in our beauty products, we’re guessing you might do too.




Carmine, which also goes by the names cochineal, carminic acid, CL75470 or E120 (so it may also have a multiple personality disorder!) is derived from crushing insects, namely the cochineal beetle, and female ones at that.  It’s a favourite ingredient to produce red shades in cosmetics as well some pinks and purples.  Unfortunately we have come across some companies that say that their cosmetics are suitable for Vegetarians when they are have this listed as an ingredient, so it pays to go Vegan with your make up!  This is one time where we will compromise and take a synthetic ingredient over a natural one.  Anyone who has read our ‘did you know’ on this will know it’s not something we particularly like the idea of – in our food or on our skin!




Attracted by the promises that bottle of shampoo or conditioner is making to give you super soft, shiny hair?  Well, steer clear of any product containing Keratin because that wonderful ingredient has come from ground up horns, feathers, hooves etc. or, put another way, the ground up animal equivalent of our hair and nails.  The animals are unlikely to have given up those voluntarily unlike us on a trip to the hairdresser or manicurist!  Still sounding like an attractive ingredient to wash your hair with?


FYI….Phyto-Keratin or Phytokeratin is made from corn or wheat protein so that one is okay!



Panthenol/Pro Vitamin B5

This is another ingredient favoured for hair products because of its ability to improve the body and texture of hair.  It can also be found in skin care products and make up because of its ability to give the skin a soft and smooth appearance.


Unfortunately one size fits all with the name and it can be derived from animal, vegetable or synthetic sources.  Our friend Google has failed to help us find out what kind/part of animal it can be made of so if in doubt stick to a Vegan product containing this ingredient, especially one that has been Vegan Society certified.  If anyone has the answer to what Panthenol can be made from please let us know!



Silk Powder

Yes, not happy with boiling the poor silk worm to steal their cocoon to make clothes with, they also like to grind up the cocoons and add the resultant powder to skin creams and make up.  I’ll get my silky smooth skin from a less brutal ingredient, thanks all the same!



Sodium Tallowate

As you may guess, this involves tallow or, to get real with the description for a minute, beef fat!  Sodium Tallowate is produced when beef fat and sodium hydroxide is mixed during the manufacturing of soap.  It’s a cheap ingredient so you can expect to find it in lots of soaps, even premium ones.  Not the ones on our website though….



Sodium Stearate

See above.  Sodium Stearate can be found as an alternative description for Sodium Tallowate.  It’s a bit of fancy footwork on the part of the manufacturer (stearate sounds much less ‘animal’ than tallow after all!) but we’re not soap makers so we’re not going to try and explain where in the soap making process Sodium Tallowate becomes Sodium Stearate.   Sodium Stearate can be from a vegetable source too though so again, worth looking for a ‘suitable for Vegetarians/Vegans’ statement before you put that soap in your shopping basket (physically or virtually!).


P.S. it’s also found in skin care products, deodorants, shampoos………



You’ll be pleased to know that we examine the ingredients of every product before we decide whether to offer it to you and none of them currently do, or ever will, include any of the above animal derived ingredients so you can shop safely on our website.


Is there an ingredient in your skin care that you’re unsure of?  Tell us about it and we’ll investigate, if it’s a ‘no-no’ we’ll add it to the list!


Is there an ingredient that you know should be on this list?  If you tell us what it is we’ll add that too!


We are I Choose What I Use, the 100% vegan (as of 1 May 2015), cruelty free, natural and organic beauty and skin care online store.

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