Vegan cosmetics — products of the future?

Veganism as a philosophy and cultural course is known, perhaps, to every modern person. Popularization of respect for various life principles, including veganism, can be traced in different spheres of human activity. For example, in large cities vegan cafes are no longer uncommon, and on the labeling of cosmetics you can see the designations “Vegan”, “Not tested on animals”, “Cruelty free”.

According to retail research firm Mintel, sales of vegan cosmetics were up 100 percent  in 2017. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? This interest in vegan cosmetics was observed in respondents from 16 to 34 years and is explained by the desire of people in this age category to take care of personal health and the environment. It is worth noting that over time, interest in vegan cosmetics will only grow. So, according to the company Grand View Research, the average annual growth rate of sales of vegan cosmetics will be 6.3% by 2025.

However, what sense is put into the concept of “vegan” in relation to cosmetics? If we talk about ingredients, there are no animal products in vegan cosmetics, for example, beeswax, lanolin, carmine, etc. But it’s important to note that it does not mean that vegan cosmetics do not contain synthetic components.

In addition, the category of vegan cosmetics includes cruelty free products, i.e., the effectiveness and safety of which, has not been tested on animals. It is worth noting that in the European Union tests of cosmetics and their components on animals have been banned since 2013. Also on the territory of the European Union it is forbidden to sell cosmetics and its components tested on animals.

The opposite position in this regard is held by China, where animal research is mandatory for bringing cosmetic products to market. Exceptions from 2014 are products such as shampoos, soaps and some skincare products made in China. However, it is worth noting that since then, China has taken several steps to switch to alternative methods of testing cosmetic products. In 2019, 7 methods were approved replacing animal studies. In 2020, technical recommendations for assessing the safety of cosmetic products were developed and are currently under discussion.

As for Russia, animal tests during certification procedure were mandatory until 2012. In 2015, a draft of the Federal Law “On Prohibition of Quality Control of Perfume and Cosmetic Products and Its Ingredients on Animals” was proposed, but in 2017 the bill was rejected.

Currently, a vote was held on the website of the Russian Public Initiative on the adoption of the aforementioned law, as well as the organization of a high priority research program on the development and validation of new non-animal tests necessary to ensure the safety of cosmetic ingredients. Just over 3,000 people took part in the vote. On the website of the State Duma there is no information on the resumption of consideration of the draft law.

Thus, the global trend is such that vegan cosmetics will be in increasing demand. This will certainly push countries such as China to at least ease the requirements for testing cosmetic products, and in the future to move to more humane tests.