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.”

Vegans hit the runway

Samantha Bridges

Every year our closet goes through a routine of “out with the old and in with the new.” We want our closet to stay trendy and current, so we replace old clothes with something new. However, what if your closet was about to make the ultimate transformation? Imagine you were transforming your closet into vegan.

A woman’s closet is her sanctuary. Throwing away some old clothes can be heartbreaking enough, but what does it take to completely change the way you think about the clothes you wear? The first step into understanding vegan fashion is to think of it from the animal’s point of view, and to prioritize their wants over fashion.

Toronto vegan fashion designer, Renia Pruchnicki, lives her life in the fashion industry, but originally never saw herself as a future vegan.

“Originally, I just wanted to become more healthy. I never even thought about becoming vegan. It wasn’t until I started changing my diet that I realized how poorly we are treating animals,” Pruchnicki said.

After twelve years in business, her company Truth, specializing in vegan belts, found that switching your accessories to non-vegan are the first steps in changing your wardrobe.

“I think the biggest difference between non-vegan and vegan fashion are accessories, because before you become a vegan, everyone has a leather belt, and leather shoes,” Pruchnicki said.

Switching to vegan clothing is not just about changing your clothes, but alternating your lifestyle. Pruchnicki believes that humans are resistant to change, so if you’re going to make the decision to wear vegan clothes, start slowly.

“I don’t think it matters how you transition. People can’t change overnight, because some people buy my belts but keep their leather ones because they don’t want to throw them away,” Pruchnicki said. “There’s a lot of people who still have some leather in their closet. I mean, throwing out 5 pairs of leather shoes doesn’t make sense to me.”

Being able to shop vegan in the city is limited, despite the growing popularity of vegan. When thinking about switching over to vegan, researching the types of materials that vegan stores use, and where to find certain items can keep you up-to-date with fashion trends.

Toronto vegan shopper, Ashkon Hobooti, knows everything he needs to know about vegan fashion, and strongly believes in the animals needs. To make the change, the first thing you need to know is that it’s cruelty-free.

“You’re not wearing something that use to be breathing. To me, that’s the most important thing to understand,” Hobooti said.

Hobooti who use to work at a Toronto vegan shoe store called “Left Feet” believes that what makes vegan fashion so trendy is that it’s different, and since fashion changes daily, every designer is eager to come up with the next best thing that is different.

“People tend to gravitate towards new and exciting things, and I think that’s why vegan fashion is so trendy,” Hobooti said.

Hobooti, looked for guidance to learn about vegan fashion when he moved to Toronto.

“I contacted the Toronto Vegetarian Association when I moved to Toronto in 2004 because they have many resources, but also volunteers and members that know exactly where to find the best of everything, whether it’s shoes, coats, belts or whatever,” Hobooti said.

When you decide to make the switch to vegan fashion, it’s important to look to a high power for advice. Meaghan Flint, a fashion student at the London College of Fashion, says that many celebrities and famous fashion designers have set the bar high for vegan fashion, generating popularity.

“I know that Stella McCartney doesn’t use any leather or fur in her designs. When you take a big name like hers, vegan fashion automatically becomes more trendy, and people are more likely to shop vegan, or at least experiment more with their wardrobe,” Flint said.

In the fashion world, the name means everything. However, in the vegan fashion world, the message behind the clothes becomes dominant.

“I know that her mother was an animal rights activist, so she grew up in that kind of environment, so it’s easy for her to show that in her fashion,” Flint said.

“She has that mind set of what is trendy and what can make people feel good. I think that’s why people shop vegan, and it’s why people should give it a try because people want to feel good when they buy a new outfit. Why not support a good cause while doing it?” Flint said.

It’s difficult for people to give up things that they’re use to, and fashion is no exception. Although people are resistant to change, the benefits that come from vegan fashion are endless. You can keep your trendy look and feel good about where your clothes come from. However, it doesn’t mean you have to throw away your genuine leather jacket, or your leather shoes. Wear alternatives that provide the same look, but don’t harm any animals in the making.

Photo courtesy of Renia Pruchnicki.

Photo courtesy of Renia Pruchnicki.

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