I like to think I know a bit about natural and organic beauty, but this doesn’t always mean that the products are vegan. Lots of natural brands will contain beeswax especially in products like lipsticks and lip balms. A lot of colour products will also contain carmine, indeed probably a lot of products in my kit do – blog post to come – still in my head but hopefully this month!! When I was sorting through my kit the other day, I realised that I didn’t have as many vegan options as I probably should have; in fact I realised that I should know a little more about the subject too. Step in the fabulous Justine Jenkins, make-up extraordinaire, who does know a LOT about vegan beauty. Justine is a celebrity make-up artist – look on her Instagram and it’s easier to ask who she hasn’t made up – who is an expert in cruelty free and vegan make-up, as well as natural and organics. In celebration of World Vegan Month, Justine has very kindly answered some questions for the blog 🙂
What makes a beauty product vegan? What ingredients should we avoid if we are looking for vegan products?
A vegan product is one that contains no animal derived ingredients like beeswax, lanolin, carmine or animal hair. Some brands are 100% vegan and some are not, but have vegan options.
Does vegan mean cruelty free and vice versa? What are the differences between the two?
This is a great question Lou as so many people get confused. To be classified as ‘cruelty free’ means the ingredients and final product have not been tested on animals by the brand itself or a third party, and they do not trade in countries like China, where testing is required by law. However, these products and brands may still contain animal derived ingredients.
To be certified as ‘vegan’, these products and brands have to contain no animal derived ingredients. However, it does not guarantee they are cruelty free and not tested on animals. To be sure a product or brand is both cruelty free and vegan, you should look for certifications for both.
How important is it for a make-up artist these days to be able to offer vegan make-up? Are you finding that more of your clients are asking for vegan products?
I still think there’s a long way to go, as although I’ve seen a huge surge in interest in cruelty free and vegan beauty lately, most people are still unaware of which brands test on animals and which brands are vegan. Although I don’t have that many vegan clients, consumers ask me questions about vegan products all the time.
When I first turned cruelty free about 7 years ago, I wondered whether clients would question why I didn’t have Chanel or Mac in my kit. Luckily it was the opposite. They were really interested in these amazing brands that they’d never heard of.
Who are some of your favourite vegan brands?
Many cruelty free brands I adore like Kat Von D, Juice Beauty, Zao and Urban Decay are not yet 100% vegan, but have some great vegan options. For the purpose of this Q&A, I’ll stick to 100% vegan brands.
Some of my favourite are Ecotools, Inika Organic, PHB Ethical Beauty, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Beauty Without Cruelty, Pacifica, Terre Mere cosmetics, and skincare brands Pai, Skyn Iceland, Sukin and Bakel. The B range from Superdrug is also a great vegan budget option.
What are your top 5 products that you can’t live without in your kit?
This is a tough one, but my top 5 100% vegan products are:-
Ecotools Full Powder brush – I love all their brushes but I’m obsessed with this particular brush. It has 70,000 synthetic bristles, so it’s as soft as any brush I’ve ever used. It’s perfect for applying powder and bronzer and everyone I use it on loves it. It’s also a great price!
Inika Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid – This is one of the best Primers I’ve ever used and I actually get a bit twitchy if I start to run low. It smells amazing, gives the skin a real hydration boost for all skin types, and preps the skin for make up application. If a model or client has great skin, sometimes I just massage this into the skin and skip foundation for a beautiful, natural glow.
PHB Ethical beauty mascara – hands down the best vegan mascara out there. No clumps, lengthens and thickens, lasts all day and no nasty ingredients. This is a great brand with an impeccable moral compass. Organic, vegan and sustainable, with 20% of profits going to charity.
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Creme Colour Concentrates – I love a multi use product and they don’t come better than this. These Concentrates are so versatile and can be used on lips, cheeks and eyes. Apply direct from the pot, add in a little moisturiser to make the colour sheer, or mix colours for your own bespoke palette. It’s uses are endless, and so much fun to experiment with.
Pai Head To Toe Hero Buriti Balm – this is a relatively new product to the market but has quickly become a firm favourite of mine. I keep one everywhere, in my kit, my handbag, my bathroom and in my car. It soothes dry lips and skin, so apply a layer to the face, and massage into dry feet and heels at night. I use it on shoots to give a sheen to eyelids, groom brows and dab on the tops of cheekbones for a natural highlight. I even apply it to my hair to repair split ends. Its the only vegan balm I know of that comes in a handy tube, so is perfect for travelling. It’s Soil Association Certified Organic, so great to use on kids.
Does a product being vegan mean a compromise in quality or performance?
Not at all. Formulations are so advanced now that I don’t think that’s an issue anymore. Some people still question whether vegan pigments are good enough. I point them straight to brands like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics who’s pigment quality is second to none. Take the Pai Buriti Balm, it does as good a job, if not better, than any balm on the market.
You’re also an advocate of natural and organic beauty – is it easy to find products that tick all three of the boxes and still give the performance you need as a professional make-up artist?
You’re an organic beauty expert Lou, so you know this like the back of your hand, but for those who don’t, up to 60% of ingredients we put onto the skin enters the bloodstream, so I’ve always been passionate about natural and organic brands. However, there are not enough brands out there that tick all three boxes. I can count them on one hand, and that’s just not good enough. There are amazing brands out there like PHB Ethical Beauty and Pai. However, I want to see many more. It’s incredibly frustrating sometimes to have to choose between natural and organic, and vegan. The industry needs to embrace vegan, cruelty free, and organic beauty as a whole.
You are the International Beauty Ambassador for the Human Society International, which is amazing! What does this involve?
Thanks Lou! I’m honoured to have been HSI’s Beauty Ambassador for a few years now. This amazing charity works tirelessly to protect animals. My role is mainly associated with their Be Cruelty Free Campaign, which raises awareness of animal testing in the beauty industry. I also get involved with their Yulin Dog Meat Campaign each year to try and end the cruel dog meat festival in Yulin, China. To support their Be Cruelty Free Campaign, please sign their cruelty free pledge here
Your personal signature is a red lip – do you have a favourite or do you mix it up? What is the best red vegan lipstick? What is the best red organic vegan lipstick?!
I can’t go anywhere without a red lip, I just love it! I have many favourites that I mix and match. My current favourite vegan reds are Pacifica Firebird, Jeffree Star Redrum and Unicorn Blood, and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in NSFW. For my fave organic AND vegan red, sadly there’s not a lot of choice, but I really enjoy wearing Inika Organic Auburn Ambition which is a russet red so perfect for Autumn/Winter!