Common Animal Derived Ingredients to Avoid (in ‘cosmetics’ & food)

Hidden animal products are in many cosmetic products and foods, and most people are unaware of this. Below are several animal derived ingredients, as well as suggested plant alternatives. Note that the source of some of them may surprise or disgust you.


*Some ingredients can be derived from plants or animals. If a source is from plants, there may be a bracketed origin statement in the ingredients list, e.g. glycerin (vegetable-derived)



Source: Animal fat (commonly by-products of soap manufacture)

Use: Moisturiser

Products: Soaps, moisturisers

Alternatives: Vegetable glycerin (can be derived from soy or coconut oil)


Stearic acid

Source: Often fatty substance from pig stomachs

Use: Variety of uses (hardens soap, binds and thickens moisturisers)

Products: Deodorants, moisturisers (lotions, creams), cosmetics, shampoos

Alternatives: Vegetable fats, coconut, cocoa butter


Squalene/squalene oil

Source: Extract from shark livers

Use: Moisturiser

Products: Creams, lotions

Alternatives: Olive oil-squalene can be made from olives, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, amaranth seeds


Hyaluronic acid

Source: Protein commonly extracted from rooster combs (on the head)

Use: Anti-aging, hydrating

Products: Creams, serums, masks, lip products

Alternatives: Hyadisine, plant oils, can made by producing enzymes from a bacteria-based biofermentation process


Carmine/cochineal/carminic acid

Source: Red pigment from the crushed cochineal beetles. It takes 70,000 beetles to make just 1 pound

Use: Red dye

Products: Lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, even food

Alternatives: Beet juice, alkanet root, annatto extract



Source: Product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from wool

Use: Moisturiser

Products: Lip products, creams

Alternatives: Plant oils (coconut, olive) & butters (shea, coconut)



Source: Protein from ground horns, hooves, and hair of animals

Use: Fills in gaps in damaged hair shaft, treat weak & brittle hair (Keratin is found in your hair & skin)

Products: Hair & nail care products

Alternatives: Almond oil, soy protein, keratin protein can be synthesized in a lab



Source: Protein derived from boiling skin, tendons, ligaments and/or bones of animals in water

Use: Sticky adhesive

Products: Shampoo, face masks, candy, marshmallows, yoghurts, capsule coating of vitamins

Alternatives: Carrageenan, agar agar, fruit pectin, dextrins, locust bean gum



Source: Crushed fish scales

Use: Sparkly, shimmering properties

Products: Nail polish, eye shadow, skin lightening creams

Alternatives: Leguminous plants, synthetic pearl, aluminium & bronze particles



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