Over these past few years, the beauty industry has experienced some major evolution.
To start, there was a noticeable diversity with brands such as Fenty Beauty offering a wide range of complexion products to fit every skin tone and Lancôme featuring Lupita N’yongo, a very dark-skinned woman as an ambassador to the brand. In addition, there is more inclusiveness with the rise of male beauty gurus.
This evolution change can also be noted on a new level of consciousness with some makeup brands choosing to make vegan and cruelty-free makeup and skincare. While often used interchangeably, it is worth noting the two terms have specific definitions.
Cruelty-free is used to label products created without any animals killed or harmed during the process. It is usually specified on the label with a bunny logo which varies depending on the organization.
Vegan, on the other hand, refers to products free of any animal content or derivation of animal ingredients. Products can be cruelty-free while not necessarily vegan. The other way around is possible as well.
The number of brands offering vegan or cruelty-free makeup has been on the rise. From high-end to affordable, the accessibility and variety of products are undeniable. There are options for any budget.
“For anyone wanting to make the switch [to vegan and cruelty-free makeup], it’s not as hard and as expensive as you’d think,” said Erin O’Connell, the vice president of the Montclair State University Animal Activist organization.
O’Connell, a junior studying psychology with minors in criminal justice and cognitive science, co-founded the organization in the spring of 2016 with current president Heather Francis and former vice president Justine Hang. The three met while taking a course in critical animal studies.
O’Connell made the switch from vegetarian to vegan this past summer and noted that it has been a slow transition when it comes to her beauty products.
“It’s still a process for me,” O’Connell said. “I definitely don’t have all vegan makeup right now.”
For the past couple of months, O’Connell has been making the switch progressively and suggested buying vegan products while replacing current ones. She reiterated how easy it is to find out about cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands with the help of well-known animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which provides the names and descriptions of brands on its website.
Some students even expressed their approval for the use of brands that are cruelty-free and vegan, and disapproval of makeup products tested on animals.
“I think that it is nice that some companies are not testing [their products] on animals,” said a senior visual arts major Niyani Green. “I don’t really see why you would need to test on animals.”
Montclair Animal Activists has also been raising awareness of the vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands for the university’s community. In the beginning of November, they hosted a cruelty-free soiree. It was the second event they had this year and there are plans to make them annual events. They had tables set with different brands ranging from local to mainstream.
“We had Elf [cosmetics] and Wet n’ Wild,” O’Connell said.
Aside from makeup products, they also featured vegan feminine products and skincare items, such as face masks and deodorants.
The event was set to help students by informing them on the available options they have if they decide to make the switch to buying vegan and cruelty-free products.