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5 Natural Cosmetics Ingredients That Are NOT Cruelty Free

We are constantly bombarded by advertisements on various media platforms, by companies, celebrities and beauty bloggers alike peddling pretty little jars, pots and tubes filled with exotic sounding or difficult to pronounce ingredients. The latest and fastest growing trend in beauty, like many other industries is Greenwashing.

What is that you ask?

Consumerism is facing a paradigm shift; with increasing number of consumers demanding products that are ecofriendly, recyclable, biodegradable etc. you catch my drift. To cash in on this movement, naturally (pun intended), companies are starting to hop on the green bandwagon by branding and positioning their wares to gain market share. However due to a lack of regulations surrounding what may be considered ‘natural’, companies typically label anything that is NOT synthetic as natural. This leaves unsuspecting consumers at the mercy of these corporations selling products that may derived from animals or contain animal byproducts.

If you, like many other Jains or animal lovers, purchase everyday personal care products and cosmetics that are derived from ‘nature’ continue reading to find out more about the 5 essential ingredients companies use in their formulation:

  • Carmine is the one of the oldest natural dyes known to man and is made from the shell of the female insect called Coccus Cacti. It is produced by collecting the female cochineal bugs that feed on cacti plants and left to dry in the sun for a few days and then crushed to produce the vibrant red dye. It takes close to 70,000 bugs to produce about 1 oz. of dye. It is a common colourant that is widely used in the cosmetics/ personal care industry, with wide applications in the food, textile and pharmaceutical industry as well.It is usually used either in the powdered form or as a lake dye to achieve bright reds, orange, pink and purple hues. Carmine is generally found in all make up products that do not specifically claim to be vegan/vegetarian. Ladies, next time you are tempted to pick up that hottest shade of red lipstick from your favorite brand, make sure to read the ingredients list! It may be listed as one of the following names: carmine, cochineal, cochineal extracts, natural red 4, crimson lake, C.I. 75470 or E120.

  • Lanolin is a waxy substance typically found on the wool of animals like sheep, alpaca, llama etc. The sebaceous glands of these animals produce lanolin, also referred to as wool wax, to protect the wool and repel water and moisture from the environment. Lanolin is typically used as an emollient in products like balms, shaving creams, shampoos, makeup removers, lotions, lipsticks due to its moisturizing properties.

Lanolin is collected when the sheered wool is placed in boiling water for several hours to clean and sterilize. While many may argue that this is a relatively safe and non-violently produced animal by product, it is important to note that due to high demand for wool, these wool bearing animals are highly abused and ill-treated while sheering. It may also be listed as Wool Wax, Purified Lanolin, Wool Fat, Anhydrous Lanolin, Lanolin Anhydrous USP, Hard Lanolin and Adsorption Refined Lanolin on the labels.

  • Stearic Acid is a wax like fatty acid widely used in soapsas a surfactant (cleansing agent) and as a bulking agent in other cosmetic formulas. It is also known for its emulsifying (binding water and oil together), emollient(moisturizing) and lubricating properties, hence it is a widely used ingredient in products like shampoos, perfumes, body washes, lotions, salve, shaving creams, deodorants, liquid cosmetics etc. Liquid cosmetics like foundations and concealers use stearic acid in small quantities to reduce transparency, thus giving these products higher coverage to hide blemishes and imperfections. Despite all the amazing benefits of using stearic acid in cosmetics formulation, it must be noted that this ingredient is typically derived from tallow. Stearic acid is commonly occurring compound in the fats of plants and animals; however the concentration of stearic acid is higher in animals than in plants. Hence the stearic acid used in mass produced products tends to be a byproduct from slaughterhouses, generally from the kidneys of cows and pigs. In recent times, due to increase in consumer demands companies are starting to move towards using plant derived stearic acid extracted from plants like Cacao nut, Shea nut (contains nine times more stearic acid than animal sources) , Cotton seed, Soy, Coconut, Sunflower etc. It is also referred to as Century 1240; Emersol 120; Emersol 150; Glycon DP; Dar-Chem 14; Cetylaceticacid; Formula 300; N-Octadecanoic Acid; 1-Heptadecanecarboxylic Acid; Octadecanoic Acid on labels.

  • Guanine also known as Pearl essence is a shimmery, iridescent, crystalline substance that is derived from grounding up fish scales. It is used in products like lipsticks, nail polishes, shampoos, fragrances, conditioners, bath products, mascara etc. to achieve a sparkly look in these products. Non-animal alternatives to guanine are synthetic pearl & mica (a mineral based shimmer) are available in a rainbow of colours. Many brands offer these alternatives as colour additives in their formulations; however heritage brands are still known to use guanine in their formulation due to the “prestige” associated with using “natural” ingredients. It may also be referred to as natural pearl essence; Dew Pearl; Guanine Enol; Mearlmaid; C.I. 75170; C.I. NATURAL WHITE 1; 6-AMINO-6-HYDROXYPURINE; 6HPURIN6ONE, 2AMINO1,7DIHYDRO; GUANIN; 2-AMINOHYPOXANTHINE on the ingredients list.

  • Silk, known for its luxurious hand in textiles, is also a luxurious natural ingredient used in formulating personal care products. Silk is used for its emollient (moisturizing) properties and is proven to protect against UV rays. It creates a protective layer on the skin which prevents the loss of moisture, thus acting like a humectant (moisture retaining). It is usually found in formulations for shampoos, conditioners, face creams, masks, hand treatments etc. Companies use this as a featured ingredient as it is a great marketing ploy to position their product as luxe and high end. As most of us may be aware, silk is extracted from the silk worm cocoon by boiling it in hot water, thus making both the fabric and the cosmetic ingredient non cruelty free.

These deceptive labeling practices especially affect us as Jain’s since one of the core principles of Jainism is Ahimsa (Non Violence). By buying these products we are directly or indirectly patronizing cruelty towards animals.

The list above is by no means comprehensive; I encourage everyone to conduct their own research and learn about the origins of the hundreds of ingredients used to formulate your favorite products. Remember knowledge is power, if ever you worry your product may have animal derived byproducts in it, reach out to the customer care number and look for cruelty free certifications.

Certifications like the Leaping Bunny, PETA and Vegan Certified ensure that not only is the final product never tested on animals but the entire supply chain during product development is cruelty free and no animal testing takes place.

Here are some brands to consider if you are looking for cruelty free, natural and green personal care products/cosmetics:

  • LUSH

  • Urban Decay

  • Too Faced

  • The Body Shop

  • Burt’s Bees

  • Badger Healthy Living Company

  • Drybar

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