My year of vegan beauty
In January I declared 2016 my year of vegan beauty. I would dedicate the year to being what I call a Vanity Vegan by only using vegan or cruelty-free beauty products. I anticipated there would be quite a few challenges but it turned out to be easier than I thought!
What made it easy?
There’s no shortage of quality vegan lipsticks or nail polishes. Between VeganCuts, Julep and Ricky’s I’ve found so many accessible and affordable shades that I feel fine abandoning my previous faves! Foundations can also be surprisingly simple to come by, even if you have sensitive skin. Brands like Cover FX, Becca and Mixed Chicks all carry shades that match without causing irritation.
The easiest vegan products to find turned out to be hair care. If you are a black woman with kinky curly hair great vegan products are EVERYWHERE! Lucky for me, many of my go-to brands like Living Proof*, Moroccan Oil and DevaCurl are all vegan!
What made it hard?
There’s a common misconception that vegan means “healthy” but that’s not always the case. I learned the hard way that vegan products may still irritate sensitive skin and the process to clear it up isn’t easy or fun. Luckily I was able to lock down a cruelty-free daily skincare regimen to clear the resulting acne and hyperpigmentation.
Even though it was easy finding my beauty basics, a few other products left me less than impressed, no matter how many variations I tried. There’s no shortage of vegan mascaras, but none hold up to my traditional faves except Too Faced’s Better Than Sex. Oh, and if you’re thinking of switching to vegan perfume – fuhgeddaboutit! I’ve tried many but none of the scents hold up well.
My biggest nuisance was finding products I like that only to realize they aren’t easily accessible. As a Dove stan I’m accustomed to finding my bodycare any and everywhere, but many vegan soaps, lotions and deodorants seem be available only through special order. What am I supposed to do if I run out? Stay ashy for 5-7 business days? No thanks!
My biggest hurdle to staying committed to a Vanity Vegan lifestyle had to be temptation. It’s hard to be a makeup junkie and say no to beauty launches just because they aren’t vegan. This year, Benefit Cosmetics debuted life-changing eyebrow tools and MAC released a limited edition collection inspired by Selena Quantanilla Perez. While I managed to stay disciplined for most 2016 beauty releases, when it came to these launches I caved.
What did it cost me?
Another popular misconception about veganism is that it’s automatically expensive but I can assure you that is not always the case. Sure, some retailers take advantage of the trendy vegan movement and jack up prices, and others increase the cost to cover expenses from vegan certification but in many cases I found vegan options to be cheaper than traditional products. My BITE and Marc Jacobs lipsticks charge between $18 and $30 per tube while cruelty-free brands like Vanatei Cosmetics, OFRA and ColourPop cost me as little as $6 and never more than $20. Sticking to cruelty-free beauty helped helped me reduce my personal care budget drastically!
How do I feel now?
My favorite thing about this challenge was being forced to explore more beauty products. Once you find products you love, it gets easy to never branch out, but this challenge pressured me to seek out brands I never even knew existed.
Will I continue on my Vanity Vegan journey now that the year is over? Of course. Between a vegan diet and vegan beauty I’ve decided that a vegan lifestyle isn’t as hard as I ever thought. The limitations make life a bit easier by forcing me to scale back and prioritize. I now have much more knowledge about cruelty-free beauty and feel better prepared to explore additional products. I have had some slip ups but I am seriously considering transitioning to a completely vegan lifestyle. Next stop vegan fashion?
*Most of Living Proof's products are vegan but a few contain beeswax or Ethosulfate.