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What is vegan beauty? Except for the very few who were raised vegan (and have chosen to stick with it), for most vegans it involves a lifestyle change at some point in their lives.

Most people start with changing their dietary choices, and some may extend veganism into other areas of life such as fashion, beauty, home & living (it is starting to sound like I am reciting a shopping mall floor map).

Actually this is a helpful analogy, while there maybe a vegan section in some supermarkets, there is certainly no such thing in a department store. While most people understand what vegan diet means, vegan beauty is not a common term.

It is not that complicated.

We challenge ourselves to simplify this in 3 Q&A. Here we go.

Q: What is vegan beauty?
A: Same as vegan diet – does not contain any animal products, by-products or derivatives.

Q: Why vegan beauty?
A: Same as vegan diet – that animals are not for us to eat, wear, use or exploit.

Q: How is vegan beauty different from vegetarian beauty?
A: Same as vegan vs vegetarian diet – vegetarian beauty may contain ingredients made by animals such as beeswax, honey, milk; vegan beauty does not.

Our Policy

At MINIMAL, we welcome products that are vegan to be sold via our platform; but the brands themselves may not be fully vegan (but definitely vegetarian). What we have found is that many brands are almost 100% vegan except that one or two product items with beeswax in them. Since our main goal is to grow the market for vegan and vegetarian products, we have adopted this policy that does not exclude vegetarian brands, but only accepts their vegan products to provide the 100% vegan shopping environment for you.

Common Animal Ingredients in Beauty Products

vegan beauty no beeswax

  • carmine – red dye obtained from crushed female beetles mainly used in lip sticks and other makeup products (allow us to roll our eyes please)
  • beeswax/honey – getting more and more popular in skincare. Beeswax is secreted by bees used to build their honeycombs (i.e. their home, um…) honey is food made by bees (i.e. their food, oh yes we just said that).
  • milk – from cows, goats etc.

Common Animal Ingredients in Beauty Products (Here’s More, Gangnam Style)

Actually, that was not fair. Some of these ingredients are not from, or first used by, Korean brands. But some Korean brands certainly made these “once exotic” ingredients very affordable therefore becoming much more well-known in the mass market.

  • snail mucus – many Korean brands now have a snail line; most carry at least a snail mask.

  • pig collagen
  • bee venom – collected by placing a pane of glass alongside a hive and running a weak electrical current through it, which encourages the insects to sting the surface. It is claimed that because the bee’s lance remains in its body, it does not die.
  • donkey milk – the latest trend, yes, really…
  • caviar

  • bird’s nest – I know it sounds gross, but if you’re Chinese, you probably have eaten it before (yes I have). Bird’s nest is made out of a solidified saliva produced by the male swifts or swallows. This saliva is said to be very good for the skin, whether taken orally or applied on skin.
  • horse oil –Horse oil skin care brands have been around in Japan for many years, usually visually blunt with the Chinese characters (kanji) 馬油on the packaging. The Korean versions of it tend to be a bit more subtle and harder to spot what it is really made of.
  • egg yolk

And finally, surprise surprise, these ingredients are actually not not vegan (yes, double negative intended).

  • “snake venom” – Or syn-ake is a topical anti-aging treatment developed by a Swedish company and marketed as an alternative to Botox injections. It is a synthetic form of snake venom.

Last Words

As you have seen above, a lot of these non-vegan ingredients use “being natural” as their selling point. To put it simply, everything on this planet is either natural (from animal, plant or mineral) or synthetic. Natural does not equate good, or more precisely, effective-or-appropriate-for-the-intended-purpose; like cyanide is a natural substance too.

If vegan beauty is your thing, the natural ingredients you want to apply to your skin are probably those from plants and mineral. Some ingredients are known for and proven to be effective, for example jojoba oil for hydration, aloe vera for soothing etc.

But if you are always in search for the next hype ingredients, here are a few in-fashion vegan ingredients to look out for.

Collagen – Let me correct myself, when has collagen ever gone out of fashion? Dah. Instead of getting it from pig skin (animal collagen) or fish scale (brands refer to them as marine collagen), some vegan products have marine collagen from algae.

*selected for and available in The Minimalist Box

Seabuckthorn Oil. Or the proper name Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, from the fruit or the seed of the plant, excellent source of omega-3, 6, 9.


*selected for and available in The Minimalist Box


*selected for and available in The Minimalist Box


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