With all the buzz around clean beauty the past few years, great progress has been made in well-formulated, truly clean, and good-for-you skincare. We’ve broken down clean beauty in the past, but still, there can be a lot of misleading labels and claims out there. We thought it would be helpful to do the heavy lifting for you and outline exactly what vegan skincare is (and share some of our favorite vegan brands!). Although vegan products are often associated with the clean beauty movement, they don’t always quite fall under the same umbrella.

Many brands that bear labels like organic, clean or cruelty-free, can still use animal-derived ingredients, like lanolin, or beeswax. In order for a skincare line to be completely vegan, these ingredients are often swapped for effective alternatives like fruit waxes or plant oils. While it can feel tricky to grasp, with a few key tips it can actually be pretty easy to spot—many of our favorite brands are vegan. In fact, you probably already have a vegan product or two in your current lineup without realizing it!

In order to break it all down, we chatted with Tara Pelletier, formulator and co-founder of vegan skincare brand Meow Meow Tweet to help break down all things vegan skincare and help make it as easy as possible for people to find the right products. Read on for everything you need to know about vegan skincare, plus 14 of our favorite 100% vegan skincare brands and editor-approved staples from each brand.

What makes a skincare product vegan?

Much like dietary restrictions, vegan skincare forgoes using any ingredients that are from or derived from animals. This might include popular skincare ingredients like beeswax, collagen, or keratin, even if those ingredients are ethically sourced. Pelletier shares that for their brand, vegan skincare looks like, “not using any animal-derived ingredients in our natural products and making decisions that reduce harm as much as possible for people, animals, and the planet. It’s a lifestyle choice rooted in anti-speciesism and respect for all beings.”

This type of approach extends care beyond just the ingredients themselves, to how they are sourced. Brands like Meow Meow Tweet, also choose not to source materials that might harm the habitats or food sources of animals.

How can you tell if a product is vegan?

The easiest way to spot a vegan product is by the “Certified Vegan” logo many vegan skincare products have. But Pelletier encourages you to go beyond that. “Learn how to read ingredient labels,” says Pelletier. “First scan the product’s label and packaging, read the full ingredient list, and find out if any of the ingredients are derived from animals.”

Here’s a cheat sheet of common animal-derived ingredients to help you out as you’re learning what to look out for:

  • beeswax 
  • honey
  • gelatin
  • collagen
  • lanolin 
  • keratin 
  • silk
  • carmine (a colorant derived from beetles) 
  • elastin
  • milk
  • squalene (look for 100% sugar-cane derived Squalane instead!)

Are vegan and cruelty free products the same thing?

While vegan implies the absence of animal and animal-derived ingredients, cruelty-free means that the product hasn’t been tested on an animal at any stage of the product’s development. Pelletier warns that, “just because a product is vegan doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tested on animals, so familiarize yourself with the brand creating the product. “

What are the benefits of vegan skincare products?

“Where conventional beauty contains ingredients that are engineered to do a specific job, plant-based beauty works by bringing together ingredients that enhance the natural function of your skin,” explains Pelletier. Vegan skincare not only offers benefits like promoting kindness and care towards animals and reducing environmental damage, but they can put the focus on plant ingredients that have been used for centuries for their healing properties. Many vegan products are rich in vitamins filled with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and Pelletier explains, “plant lipids and waters make your skin cells slippery, hydrated, moisturized, and free from damage—supporting them in doing what they already know how to do.”

If you’re new to clean beauty or vegan skincare, something to note is that many products have a shorter shelf life thanks to the lack of synthetic stabilizers and barely refined, organic ingredients. Pelletier says that most natural beauty products should be used within three to six months of purchasing to ensure maximum freshness.

Our 14 Favorite Vegan Skincare Brands:

Vintners Daughter

A longtime favorite of beauty enthusiasts, there’s good reason Vintner’s Daughter has made its way into so many beauty cabinets. The epitome of luxury, plant-based skincare, Vintner’s Daughter was founded by April Gargiulo and consists of just two products: the Active Botanical Serum and the Active Treatment Essence. While designed to work in tandem, they each stand well on their own thanks to their incredibly packed formulas that include 22 botanicals and 60+ bioavailable nutrients. While the formulations might be complex, the brand is all about simplified and minimal skincare, and believes you really just need these two products (plus maybe a cleanser of course).

VINTNER’S DAUGHTER

Suitable for all skin types, part one of this two-step regimen is formulated with over 70 water-soluble nutrients, along with Hyaluronic Acid and brightening Vitamin C.


Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence, $225

VINTNER’S DAUGHTER

Infused with vitamins, balancing minerals and omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9, the Active Botanical Serum deeply nourishes and locks in hydration to create a more dewy glow.


Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, $185

Meow Meow Tweet

With a charming company name that comes from the founder’s love of their cats and bird, the co-founders, Tara Pelletier and Jeff Kurosaki, founded their all-natural vegan apothecary after falling in love with natural skincare. From deodorant to nontoxic insect repellent and to a complete facial regime, Meow Meow Tweet is committed to creating pure, all-natural, plant and mineral-based formulas. All products are made with organic, raw plant oils and butters, steam-distilled and cold-pressed essential oils and organic or wild-crafted botanicals.

Meow Meow Tweet

Moisturize your skin from head to toe with this sweet floral and citrus, gentle, non-greasy oil. One of our favorite body oil scent blends!


LAVENDER LEMONGRASS body oil

Meow Meow Tweet

Truly vegan lip balms can be hard to find. Keep those kissers soft with this coconut balm, enclosed in compostable paper.


COCONUT CACAO vegan lip balm

Meow Meow Tweet

This blend of lightweight coconut oil, purifying hazelnut oil and skin soothing jojoba oil will not only cleanse your face but won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.


LEMON ROSE cleansing oil

Dr. Loretta

Formulated by a dermatologist with over 40 years of experience (Dr. Loretta herself!), this skincare line is cruelty-free, vegan, and clean—formulated without sulfates, parabens, artificial dyes, or fragrances. With skincare focused on shielding the skin against environmental factors responsible for aging, Dr. Loretta focuses combining medical grade actives with botanical ingredients for healthier, more youthful skin.

Dr. Loretta

I’ve been waking up with bouncy refreshed skin, thanks to this set of beauty sleep essentials. Featuring the Intense Replenishing Serum, Tightening Eye Gel and Tightening Detox Mask, plus a Mask Applicator Brush, this set is packed with firming peptides, replenishing ceramides, and fortifying strawberry seed extract for your best beauty sleep yet.


Beauty Sleep Set

Grown Alchemist

Grown Alchemist formulates innovative products combining high-quality active ingredients supported by scientific research and clinical results. Beautifully and minimally branded, these products won’t just look pretty in your bathroom, they’ll offer real results as they work with your body’s natural capabilities to heal and regenerate.

Grown Alchemist

Two of Grown Alchemist’s most popular and powerful serums packaged together. Featuring the Detox Serum Antioxidant+ 3 Complex, formulated to detoxify, brighten and prep the skin and the Instant Smoothing Serum for smooth, firm, and plumper-looking skin. This set is amazing for pretty much all skin types!


Power Couple Kit

Grown Alchemist

‘Tis the season for lots of hand-washing, and consequently, dried out hands. Grown Alchemist’s hand care sets perfectly solve the problem with their non-toxic luxury scented hand wash and hand cream.


Hydrate & Revive Hand Care Twinset

Grown Alchemist

Eye cream is one of those products that can feel like an unnecessary extra step but is 100% worth it. We love this eye cream for not just improving firmness and expression lines, but helping to brighten dark circles over time as well!


Age-Repair Eye Cream

Osea

Inspired by her grandmother’s lifelong love of the sea (and unable to find formulas that met her standard), Jenefer Palmer set out to create a plant-based skincare line infused with elements of the ocean. Created with non-toxic and nourishing formulas they’re a favorite for everything from overnight masks to body balms.

OSEA

A CS favorite, this moisturizer is an ultra-lightweight, non-drying moisturizer that works to eradicate surface impurities without clogging pores, leaving skin hydrated and fresh. It magically sooths even the most blemish prone skin and hydrates my dry skin without breaking me out.


Blemish Balm

OSEA

This balm delivers all-day hydration. Organic Coconut Oil and Alaria Seaweed improve the appearance of skin elasticity, while marine peptides and antioxidants firm and revive dullness.


Anti-Aging Body Balm

OSEA

This anti-aging, antioxidant-rich mask instantly improves the appearance of dull, uneven skin tones brightening skin, locking in hydration, softening the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and leaving skin smooth and plump.


White Algae Mask

Versed

The ultimate in affordable clean vegan skincare, Versed was created by beauty powerhouse (and founder of clean make-up line, Merit), Katherine Power. Sustainably minded and minimally designed, Versed is known for delivering luxury-level results at a fraction of the cost (and looks cute while doing it).

VERSED

The Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser calms, balances, and nourishes skin with its silky, milky formula while keeping the skin’s barrier intact and its microbiome happy.


Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser

VERSED

Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution is a powerful brightening treatment for uneven skin tone, dark spots, and those lingering post-breakout marks. This exfoliating toner features a four-acid complex with natural skin-brighteners like Kojic and Azelaic Acid, AHAs, Vitamin C, and Bearberry Extract.


Mini Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution

VERSED

This night cream softens fine lines and rough texture thanks to fermented purple tea, green coffee, and microalgae to repair and smooth.


Recovery Mode Advanced Night Cream

Mara

Launched in 2018, Mara was created with the aim of creating clean, sustainably made products that center around the power of plants and the sea. Using a proprietary algae blend, clean actives, superfoods and innovative formulas, Mara’s products offer high performing results for healthy glowing skin without any animal byproducts.

MARA

This cleansing oil isn’t a best seller for no reason. Formulated with four rich four enzymes—papaya, pineapple, grapefruit, and pumpkin—and Mara’s signature algae blend, this cleansing oil is perfect for all skin types.


Chia & Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil

MARA

Treat your skin to this ultra-hydrating face oil. The Universal Face Oil is packed with algae, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids formulated to help nourish tired, dry skin to its bouncy, beautiful potential.


Algae + Moringa Universal Face Oil

Summer fridays

The vegan brand launched its Jet Lag Mask in 2018 and quickly moved from being a single product startup to one of the most sought-after beauty brands. It has since expanded to cleansers, moisturizers and body care products all designed in the brand’s chic, pastel-colored Insta-worthy branding.

Summer Fridays

Beloved by influencer’s and editors everywhere, the OG Summer Fridays’ antioxidant-rich mask is ideal for replenishing its radiance.


Jet Lag Mask

Summer Fridays

This trio includes the original ultra-hydrating Lip Butter Balm in Vanilla, Lip Butter Balm in Vanilla Beige and a festive flavor Lip Butter Balm in Brown Sugar. Packed with ultra-hydrating Shea and Murumuru Seed Butters, these natural moisturizers soothe, heal and condition parched lips.


Lip Butter Balm Trio

Summer Fridays

Summer Friday’s Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream is an ultra-lightweight moisturizer that infuses thirsty skin with three types of Hyaluronic Acid for non-stop, skin-plumping hydration. 


Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream Moisturizer

Moonjuice

Moon Juice got its start as a cold-pressed juice bar before moving on to beautifully packaged supplements and adaptogens, and eventually, skincare. Its holistic formulas are responsibly sourced, bioactive and work from the inside out and vice versa, inspiring a holistic sense of balance and wellness.

Moon Juice

Glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid help unclog pores and resurface for smoother skin. Niacinamide and adaptogenic Reishi help hydrate, soothe, and balance. (It’s also been called the “clean” Biologique Recherche P50.)


Acid Potion AHA + BHA Resurfacing Exfoliator

Moon Juice

Nutrient-dense silver ear mushroom and hyaluronic acid lock in hydration to help minimize the appearance of fine lines in the plumping Jelly Hydrating Serum.


Plump Jelly Hyaluronic Serum

Wonder Valley

Started by a husband and wife team, olive oil is Wonder Valley’s cornerstone. Their olive oil is hand-harvested and expertly milled from our groves in Northern California. Taking the timelessness of great olive oil as the base of their products, they’ve translated it into deeply nourishing products for your skin.

Wonder Valley

Only a few drops of this gentle facial serum are needed to feel revitalized, thanks to sea lavender and botanical peptides which work to improve brightness giving you a natural glow.


Wonder Serum

True Botanicals

Beloved by celebrities, True Botanical’s is an all-natural luxury skincare line that focuses on truly clean, Made Safe-certified ingredients and products. From serums to face oils to overnight masks, True Botanicals promises skincare that will stimulate collagen products, regulate pigmentation, and maintain hydration.

TRUE BOTANICALS

This potent, problem-solving mask helps dramatically boost skin’s hydration levels, thanks to plant-derived hyaluronic acid and an AC collagen pre-peptide.


Moisture Lock Overnight Mask

TRUE BOTANICALS

This hydrating anti-aging serum strengthens skin’s immunity to help prevent, protect and correct all signs of aging.


Chebula Active Immunity Serum

Bite

Bite Beauty started off with vegan lip products that go on butter smooth and really last and has since expanded to include makeup and skincare. Made agave nectar instead of lanolin, the Agave + Intensive Lip Mask is a go-to when it comes to lip treatments.

Bite Beauty

A lanolin-free, vegan, intensive lip mask supercharged with superfoods for hydration and healthy skin, with a cushiony, soothing texture.


Agave+ Intensive Vegan Lip Mask

Supergoop!

If you’re looking for the perfect line of vegan sunscreens and sun care, Supergoop! is it. From spray-on sunscreens to glowy tinted moisturizers, Supergoop! has the full lineup.

Supergoop!

This lightweight, hydrating, makeup-gripping sunscreen has won beauty awards for good reason. It has built-in blue-light protection that has a pearlescent finish to leave skin luminous with an instant glow. No makeup needed!


Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40, $36

Superegg

Superegg is the new buzzy vegan skincare brand on the block. The line’s ultra-chic branding features sleek, round, eggshell white containers packed with potent vegan skincare goodness. Drawing inspiration from her Korean upbringing and the role eggs played in those beauty rituals, Erica Choi, created Superegg with vegan and clean ingredients to recreate the skincare benefits of eggs.

Superegg Renewal Moisturizer

Sound Renewal is an intensively nourishing gel cream with an innovative blend of high-performing botanical extracts and antioxidants. This lightweight formula bathes the skin in vital nutrients for a dewy radiant complexion.


Sound Renewal Moisturizer, $60

Superegg Calm Movements Eye & Cheek Mask

Made of innovative hydrogel to cool, soothe, and boost skin elasticity, this unique mask provides sufficient coverage of both the eye and cheek area. Centella Asiatica and Tremella Mushroom, along with other high-performing antioxidants work to nourish and soothe sensitive skin. 


Superegg Calm Movements Eye & Cheek Mask

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