Review: The best of vegan beauty products

Jenessa Williams

Which vegan products are worth your pennies? We spent a week trialing an array of vegan beauty and cosmetic products

2018 will be remembered for a multitude of reasons, but it will almost definitely go down as a year where we as a culture decided to embrace vegetarianism and veganism with more attention than ever before. 

According to research from the Vegan Society, the number of vegans living in the UK has more than doubled between 2016 and 2018, with 42 per cent of those people having made the change this year. 

However, veganism is much more than just the food we put on our plates. Inspired to embrace a more ethical lifestyle, I took on the challenge of replacing as many of my regular beauty products with vegan alternatives as possible, and found myself pleasantly surprised…

 

Make-up

While my make-up bag is already fairly ethical, there were a few new additions that proved a hit. My usual Fenty Beauty foundation is already cruelty free, but in the interests of something different, I opted for the Body Shop’s Fresh Nude Foundation, (£15, vegetarian rather than vegan, but other vegan formulations are available from the brand). 

Consider me a convert—the shade “Yorkshire Rose” applied easily and offered just the right amount of sheer coverage to mask any problem areas but still allow my natural skin tone to come through. Quite impressive, considering the problems I have had in the past with matching foundation shades. 

Very little will convince me to ever part with beloved Illamasqua gel eyeliner, but it found some excellent new bedfellows from newcomer Memi, a Leeds-based startup company whose Lash To Lash Mascara (£10) offered more natural curl and staying power than many other mascara’s on the market. 

For lipstick, Tarte’s “Set Sail” from their Rainforest of The Sea Collection (£20) is my new go-to—a flush of colour that fades naturally over the course of a day, it was nourishing and non-sticky, formulated with antioxidant-rich plant extracts to encourage a firmer pout. 

The only slight make-up disappointment came in the form of E.L.F, whose “Modern Metals” (£12) palette is stunning in the packaging but takes quite a few layers to achieve full colour payoff on the eyelids. The shimmer shades fair better, but if you’re looking for vegan-friendly impact, the pigmentation of NYX cosmetics offer much more impact with less effort. 

When the times came to take it all off, A’kin’s Micellar water (£9.95) does just as good a job as my usual Garnier. Infused with green tea and coconut water, it’s highly refreshing—a great way to feel “clean” just before bed. 

 

Hair and beauty

My new bathroom routine is something of a floral one. A’Kin’s orange blossom and juniper body wash (£24.95) is a grown-up treat, recalling expensive hotel products in its earthy scent and generous lather. A little certainly goes a long way, and with a bottle this large, you’re getting decent value for money. 

It provides an excellent scent balance to the Body Shop’s Pink Grapefruit Energising Gel lotion (£8.50), which swiftly becomes a new favourite in my lotion arsenal. A water-rich formula, it applies very thin and light, but absorbs quickly, leaving behind a powerful scent akin to perfume that gets me regular compliments throughout the day. As somebody prone to an oily face but dry body skin, this is an excellent all-rounder, and will definitely be repurchased in an array of different scents. 

When it comes to hair-care, my mixed heritage means my hair is something of a complex character, requiring a very specific blend of ingredients to keep my curls moist and defined. 

I’ve long been a convert of Lush’s (vegan) RnB conditioner, but with it’s recent price increase and my stockpile running low, I decided to branch out into the world of hair oils. Enter Alchemy’s Grapefruit Oil—a blend of coconut, avocado, almond, castor oil and grapefruit, it’s entirely natural and works instant wonders on my hair. Within just a few rounds of use, it banishes any winter-inflicted dandruff, and minimizes breakage—a big problem this time of year when hair is so often swept up in scarves and hats. It’s a little pricey at £35, but I doubt I’ll look back. 

If you’re seeking even more of a boost, Together Health’s Beautiful Hair Skin and Nails (£14.99) supplements could be worth a try. Upon opening the packet, they hold the slightly unfortunate scent of pet shop, but they prove quite versatile—swallow the capsule whole up to three times a day, or split open and blend into food and drink. Containing a huge array of vitamins and whole food nutrients, they are also wheat, active yeast, gluten and soya free. 

With so many different products on the go it’s difficult to know quite how much of a difference they are making to my own health, but in the week or so of trial, my nails do appear to have grown a little, and my hormonal skin doesn’t appear to be any worse than normal. Not a glowing review just yet, but one that would likely benefit from extended use. 

For a final spritz of feel-good energy, I tried Dolma Perfume’s “Compassion” (starting at 12.95 for 10ml), a warm, woody scent with ginger and cinnamon that feels both relaxing and perfectly wintery. Packaged in heavy, stylishly slim bottles, it would make a great stocking filler for a vegan friend or relative. 

 

The verdict:

With this many excellent products on the market, there’s no longer any real good excuse to not make the swap. Full of natural ingredients and free of animal cruelty, these are products that you can look and feel good about using, adhering to various budgets. 

Next time your favourite product runs out, consider doing a little more research before you simply repurchase—you never know what ethical alternative you might find.