A Guide to Clean Beauty: 5 Skincare Ingredients Derived from Animals and Their Vegan Alternatives

The common ingredients that you need to avoid if you want to start a clean beauty regime

Vegan beauty has been trending for a while now. It became popular following the rise in demand for vegan food. As many turned vegan due to ethical, environmental and health reasons, other industries took note. The general belief was that if it’s good enough to be ingested then it’s good for the skin as well. 

However, starting off a vegan beauty regime mayn’t be all that easy. How would you know if your cleanser is cruelty-free or if your lipstick is really vegan? Trying to decipher your favourite skincare's ingredients list can be mind-boggling. So we asked Ritika Jayaswal, CEO and founder Nourish Mantra, an an Ayurveda-inspired natural skincare brand to list out the animal-derived skincare ingredients and their vegan alternatives.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular animal-based skincare ingredients in wellness and beauty products.


That lipstick and lip balm you love so much probably contains beeswax, taken from the honeycombs built by bees. Also known as Cera Alba and Cera Flava, beeswax helps keep emulsions from separating into its oil and liquid components. 

Vegan alternatives: Soya and Candelilla wax are vegan alternatives to this animal-based ingredient in organic skincare products.


Also known as Mearlmaid AA, Guanine is extracted by scraping the scales of a dead fish and is commonly found in eye shadows, bronzers, and nail polishes. 

Vegan alternatives: Mica and Rayon are vegan alternatives to this animal-based ingredient in face care products.


Extracted from glands of sheep and other woolly animals, Lanolin works as an emollient in moisturizers, lotions, and balms, preventing the loss of moisture.

Vegan alternatives: Coconut oil and olive oil are vegan alternatives to this animal-based ingredient.


Your favourite red lipstick probably contains Carmine, a red pigment extracted from the shells of the female Cochineal insect. Also known as Cochineal Dye, a single gram of this ingredient is created by crushing hundreds and thousands of these insects.

Vegan alternative: Beetroot is a vegan alternative to this animal-based ingredient.


Found naturally in our nails and hair, Keratin is known for its strengthening and rebuilding properties. However, the Keratin in shampoos is extracted from animals’ claws, fur, horns, and hooves. 

Vegan alternatives: Almond oil and avocado oil are vegan alternatives to this animal-based ingredient.