The low-down on vegan makeup and beauty products

Reporter Tamar Atik gathers some insight about vegan beauty products from a few experts in the industry.

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Getting powdered up, vegan style

Be in the know about the pros and cons of vegan beauty products.

By: Tamar Atik

Owner of online-based vegan makeup brush line Pirouette, Nika, has noticed a leap toward vegan products in recent years from both vegans and compassionate meat-eaters alike.

Nika Jabiyeva using her vegan makeup brushes Tamar Atik/Say Vegan

Nika using her vegan makeup brushes
Tamar Atik/Say Vegan

“I see people becoming more conscious of the products they’re using and wanting to use more responsible products that are not tested on animals, made out of animals or that require someone else’s suffering (to be made),” she says.

Nika, who lives a vegan lifestyle, says the moment she found out her old makeup brushes were made from mink hair, spurred her into action. This lead to the creation of her line in 2001, which she says has more beauty benefits than brushes made with animal hair.

“They’re soft and actually more hygienic because they don’t absorb bacteria and they don’t contain dead skin cells, like animal-hair brushes do,” Nika said. “Most people don’t know that luxury makeup brushes are made with mink, sable, pony and squirrel hair. A lot of times we’re not conscious of it and we just buy it.”

Nika Jabiyeva Tamar Atik/Say Vegan

Nika poses with her cruelty-free brushes
Tamar Atik/Say Vegan

Nika feels once people become aware of how much animals are used in the beauty industry, they start to choose to use cruelty-free products.

Toronto-based beauty blogger, Lisamarie Wilson, started her blog Beauty Crazed five years ago and has also noticed people gravitating toward animal-conscious and vegan hair and makeup products. However, she said it’s tricky to find strictly vegan brands because there aren’t many of them and they come with a shelf life disadvantage.

Lisamarie Wilson/Photo courtesy of Lisamarie Wilson

Lisamarie Wilson/Photo courtesy of Lisamarie Wilson

“The problem with vegan products is they don’t last as long. So you either have to use a product up or you end up throwing it out just because it doesn’t necessarily have the same preservatives to help keep them fresh.”

Toronto beauty blogger, Janella Panchamsingh, started her blog BoldnBeautifulMakeup in 2008. Also a beauty consultant and makeup artist at Sephora, she thinks shorter expiration dates are a problem for vegan products too, in addition to higher prices. But she said their quality makes up for that.

Janella Panchamsingh/ Photo courtesy of Janella Panchamsingh

Janella Panchamsingh/ Photo courtesy of Janella Panchamsingh

“The products are made more with love. They’re not just a bunch of ingredients or preservatives thrown into a can,” Panchamsingh said.

She estimates about 75-80 per cent of her clients go to her looking for more vegan or organic products. Overall, she agrees natural is better in the long run.

“We all have natural beauty, and with makeup, we’re able to enhance that natural beauty,” Panchamsingh said. “Think about how it affects your health later on. We all want a preserved, clean life. I explain that to people.”

University of Toronto student, Margo Vartanian, 18, went vegan about six months ago. She started using exclusively vegan hair and makeup products recently and said she’s seen noticeable improvements in her skin problems.

Margo Vartanian/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

Margo Vartanian/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

“I have lots of acne and a lot of chemicals (in non-vegan products) don’t fix that or they clog my pores, making it worse… The vegan products get rid of my redness I’ve noticed,” she said, who cites the Tarte line as her foundation of choice, finding it smooth and non-caky.

Tarte foundation/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

Tarte foundation/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

“You don’t feel it on your skin either, so you can tell it’s natural just by how it’s shown on your face,” Vartanian said. “I apply it with my fingers and it just feels like a moisturizer; it doesn’t feel like an extra layer of skin or anything.”

Vartanian also uses a mascara, face powder, eye shadow and face oil from Tarte, which she says absorbs really well into skin and feels really light.

Tarte eye shadow/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

Tarte eye shadow/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

For her hair, Vartanian uses products by Live Clean and Lush. She said she also recently discovered Urban Decay as a vegan brand.

Live Clean defining hair spray/Photo courtesy Margo Vartanian

Live Clean defining hair spray/Photo courtesy of Margo Vartanian

“I figure, if I don’t believe in putting (meat) internally in my system, why would I put it externally on my body?” she said.

Wilson agreed that food shouldn’t be the only consideration when it comes to animal welfare.

“You can’t really not eat meat and then go ahead and slap it on your face as a beauty routine,” she said. “If you’re going to be vegan, there’s a whole patch that goes along with it. So your beauty routine is going to have to logically follow that.”