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Animal Ingredients in the Cosmetics, Skin and Body Care Industry

I’ve been asked a few times why we are a vegan company – do skin care products and cosmetics actually have animal ingredients in them? The answer is yes, big time. Most, if not all of them in the conventional industry (the majority of products in drug stores, grocery stores & department stores). Like petrochemicals, animal ingredients are extremely cheap because they are a byproduct of other industries – mainly meat, dairy, fish, egg, fur, wool and horse-racing/rodeo industries.

If you’re like me, you may question the juju of anything with animal in it or you may just dislike the ‘eww’ factor. In any case, here is a list of animal ingredients to look for on the labels of skin care and cosmetic products:

* may be plant or petroleum based but unless the label indicates that it is a vegan product, don’t count on it.

allantoin * look for plant-based ingredients such as comfrey

ambergris – sperm whale vomit used in the perfume industry that would not be listed but rather buried in the term ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’

bee products e.g. royal jelly, beeswax (cera alba), honey

anything with ‘capryl’ e.g. caprylic acid *

civet – musk used in the perfume industry that is extracted from the odorous sacs of this cat-like creature in a cruel industry based mainly out of Africa. Would not be listed but rather buried in the term ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’.

collagen *

cortisone (hydrocortisone) *

elastin *

emu oil – some cosmetic companies own their own emus which makes this ingredient a primary animal product rather than a byproduct as in the emus are raised and slaughtered for their oil.

fragrance or parfum – it is not necessary to list all components of a fragrance so animal ingredients can be buried in the formula

anything with ‘glycer’ e.g. glycerin, glycerol *

hyaluronic acid * look for plant-based ingredients such as shea butter

anything with ‘lanol’ e.g. lanolin, isopropyl lanolate – fat from sheep’s wool


lactic acid *

lecithin * can be made from soy

panthenol *



retinol* – look for plant-based sources such as rosehip oil


helix pomatia – crushed snail shells

squalene – look for plant-based ingredients such as olive oil

anything with ‘stear’ e.g. stearic acid, stearyl alcohol – * can be derived from coconut and palm oils

anything with ‘tallow’ (e.g. sodium tallowate, tallow acid, talloweth-6) – This is animal fat rendered from all kinds of sources – meat (waste from slaughterhouses), butcher trimmings, restaurant grease, lab animals, road kill, euthanized shelter pets and other useful dead animals. Next time you’re in a grocery store or drug store, look at the ingredients on the soaps. You will be hard-pressed to find a soap without it.

anything with urea e.g. imidazolidinyl urea, uric acid – from urine or other bodily fluids *

vitamins *

See also: Peta’s Animal Ingredient List