Vegan-friendly skincare ingredients

Being animal-friendly and cruelty-free is one of the core pillars of Deerieo philosophy, and we strongly believe there is no place for animal-derived ingredients in cosmetic products. Given the current technological and scientific advancement, plant-based skincare can deliver great results and superior efficacy without harming animals.

So why do we still see animal-derived ingredients in cosmetics?

The short answer is price and time. Price because these ingredients are often by-products of another industry, hence cheap to obtain allowing brands to increase their profits. Time, because it takes a long time to research novel plant-based vegan alternatives, test their efficacy and develop new product formulas. Not many businesses are keen to make that resource-intensive, costly switch.

At Deerieo we don't support such approach and we know that you, our customers, share our vision too. This is why we want to help you better identify vegan-friendly products and ingredients that align with your ethical values.

Of course, you will often see the Vegan Society badge on the packaging that helps to identify a vegan-friendly product, but not always. Micro artisan brands (like Deerieo) may not be able to afford such certification, which doesn't mean they don't fulfil the criteria. It's a financial matter.

Is switching to vegan skincare difficult?

Good news - it is not! Creating such a product does require a lot of research and testing, but once the product is developed you may include it in your skincare regime right away. Like with any other product, give your skin time to get used to a new cosmetic and avoid radical changes. Ideally, switch 1-2 products at a time and give it a week before making further changes.

Let's talk about the ingredients

Here is a list of some cosmetic ingredients derived from animals:

  • Beeswax & honey 
  • Carmine - bright red dye used in makeup, food and textiles derived from beetles
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Collagen
  • Elastin
  • Retinol
  • Fish scales / Guanine
  • Keratin
  • Lanolin
  • Snails - quite obviously
  • Squalene
  • Tallow
Let's look at some of them and their vegan-friendly alternatives
beeswax candles on a brown paper and white wood background
Beeswax and honey

Beeswax and honey offer many skin benefits. Unfortunately, this golden goodness created by the bees is not vegan. Beeswax is often used in balms to create a creamy consistency and hardness. Honey is used as a humectant to attract and retain moisture to the skin and help with skin dryness.

Why is it not vegan? Mass production of honey and beeswax has lead to exploitation of bees, disruption in the ecosystem and diminishing of the world's bee population. You may find out more HERE (opens new window)

Vegan alternative

We use berry and plant-derived wax in Deerieo products like Berry Clean or the Veil cleansing balms to achieve lovely creamy consistency and stability. And as a humectant, we use vegetable glycerin instead of honey to hydrate the skin and alleviate dryness. You will find a good dose of glycerin in our Daily Glow face cream!

Hyaluronic Acid

Who doesn't like a plump, bouncy and fresh-looking skin? With hyaluronic acid touted as the star ingredient for all that, I have some bad news. Not only it is not vegan, but it is a product of Streptococcal bacteria fermentation with mammal tissue or by-product of the poultry industry. I don't think we need to go into further details. 


Hyaluronic acid is a humectant with superior water retention properties. As with honey, at Deerieo we use vegetable-derived glycerin combined with precious plant oils and butters to not only attract the moisture to the skin but also to slow down its evaporation to keep your skin plump and well moisturised all day.

Deerieo Aurora Restorative Oil Serum in a 10ml white dropper bottle.

Retinol, retinoids, vitamin A - it is known under many names. A top performer among the “anti-ageing” ingredients, widely used in skincare for its collagen-boosting properties and time-erasing effects. Unfortunately, it is often animal-derived and finding a vegan-friendly alternative requires a thorough investigation with suppliers. At Deerieo we have opted to use bakuchiol, a plant-derived vegan alternative to retinol, that not only offers comparable restorative effects but also is much more friendly to sensitive skin. You will find bakuchiol as one of the key ingredients in our Aurora Restorative Facial Oil Serum (available in two sizes).

Deerieo Purity Face and Body Soap with white clay

Lanolin and Tallow

Lanolin is a naturally occurring oil found and extracted from sheep’s wool and tallow is a fat primarily obtained from beef. Both are widely used for their emollient and moisturising properties as they trap and lock in moisture. They are excellent treatments of dehydrated, very dry and flakey or sensitive skin. Yet plant butters are equally efficient emollients. This is why we love to use mango, shea and cocoa butters in Deerieo products. We use them in Deerieo Moisturising Soaps, Berry Clean and the Veil balms, Daily Glow face cream for their deeply moisturising, skin conditioning and protective benefits.

Squalene vs Squalane

Squalane is a silky, very luxurious and moisturising oil derived from olives, yet historically it was derived from the liver of a shark. It's not that common anymore but it still happens. Luckily, there is a way of differentiating the two. Shark derived oil is called squalene (with an "e"), and olive-derived is squalane (with an "a") which is vegan. You will find olive-derived squalane in our Aurora Restorative Oil Serum.

Deerieo Secret Garden exfoliating herbal face masks collection.

Allantoin is widely used in skincare for its anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing benefits. It comes from uric acid of an animal but it can be derived from plants such as comfrey or be created synthetically. As a consumer, you will not know what was its source unless you ask the company directly. At Deerieo we use powdered comfrey leaves and roots (which we grind ourselves) in our Secret Garden exfoliating clay mask to extract allantoin's benefits in the most natural, animal-friendly way.

Cruelty-free equals vegan?

Not always. If the product is cruelty-free, it means it hasn't been tested on animals yet it may still contain animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax etc. This is why being able to understand the ingredients list (INCI) is important. And if you are still not sure (or there is no way of knowing by doing a google search), ask the company directly. Don't be afraid to ask, it is your right to know and make a conscious choice of products and brands you buy from. 

I hope you have found this information useful and if you’re thinking about trying Veganuary, why not extend it to your beauty routine too?

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published