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Unless you’ve been living off-the-grid in Cape York, you might have noticed the wave of vegan beauty products arriving in-store. These are not vegan products as you might have known them. Yes, they’re free of animal by-products of course, but they aren’t crunchy or sub-par when it comes to pigment or their results so they’re as good to your skin as they are to animals. Though I don’t live a completely vegan lifestyle—I’m a flexitarian who eats meat occasionally—I committed to using vegan-only beauty for a week. Here’s what I found.
My skin is perpetually dry, red and often sensitive, so I was keen to explore new options. I started my day with Tatcha’s Rice Polish Calming Cleanser and I was instantly impressed. The formula uses crushed rice which turns into a foam when rubbed onto moist skin and also includes green tea and algae, so it gently polishes the skin without irritation. With just this step alone, my skin already looked smoother. The dry, flaky skin between my brows vanished and the micro-bumps on my cheeks flattened. I followed it with Tammy Fender’s Bulgarian Rose Water which was so soothing that my natural redness seemed to disappear.
Twice weekly I also used a pea-size amount of Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni. There’s been a lot of excitement about this product because it’s Drunk Elephant’s first product to include retinol—1% vegan retinol to be exact. To be honest, I was concerned about how my skin would react. However, my skin held up well and by the end of the day it actually looked more supple. Over time, retinol is your best bet for reducing discolouration, lines and wrinkles caused by environmental stressors such as the sun and pollution. If you are worried about sensitivity, dilute the treatment with a moisturiser or an oil.
Next came the Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-free Moisturiser. This gel-cream is loaded with plant-derived hyaluronic acid designed to plump your complexion. I also found my makeup sat perfectly over the top of this hydrator. Kat Burki’s Rose Hip Intensive Recovery Eye Serum was the next vegan-friendly player to try. Infused with cold-processed rose hip oil, this serum feels divine because it sinks in quickly and it’s so hydrating, and my concealer didn’t crease when layered over the top. Over the week I noticed my dark circles had started to appear brighter and morning-time puffiness diminished.
Finally, sunscreen. It’s a non-negotiable naturally, but many sunscreens contain animal-derived ingredients including beeswax and lanolin. Not Mecca Cosmetica’s To Save Face SPF 30 Mineral Gel Cream which is worth all the hype. It’s a lightweight gel cream with SPF 30 that melts quickly into the skin which makes it work well under makeup.
It’s never been easier to curate an entirely vegan makeup bag. I started with the Mecca Cosmetica Fresh Faced Primer. Like the SPF, it’s a gel consistency that cools, smooths and hydrates skin and lays down the ideal canvas for your foundation. I followed with the recently launched Hourglass Vanish Liquid Foundation and the cruelty-free Vanish Foundation Brush and actually, the brand is going entirely vegan by 2020. A little of this concentrated product goes a long way. I wasn’t sure about the semi-matte finish on my dry skin but my complexion still looked fresh by the end of each day. It even lasted all the way through my Wednesday night HITT class. To hide my dark circles, I enlisted the Mecca Max Life Proof Concealer, which has a long-wearing satin finish. I didn’t have to set my under-eyes yet they remained looking and covered all day. Huge win!
Moving onto brows, I reached for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. My brows are unruly and sparse at the best of times but this is such a richly pigmented pencil that it made them fuller so quickly. It has a fine tip that creates hair-like strokes and the spoolie softly blended the colour out. Next up, I used the lilah b. Eye Quad in B. Stunning for my eyeshadow. The quad has the perfect mix of neutral colours (a satin bone highlighter, mid-tone crease colour, a deeper chocolate shimmer and a dark brown shade to intensify), so I could switch between soft, effortless eyes or smouldering smoky eyes.
I finished my eyes with the cult classic Better Than Sex Mascara. Just three coats gave me false looking lashes—much longer, thicker and blacker than anything I'm used to. Mascara is often enriched with animal ingredients including shellac, collagen and Panthenol, for their ability to boost lustre and thickness, so it’s reassuring to know you don’t need them.
For my cheeks, I wore Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush in Poppet and Rituel De Fille The Alchemist Highlighter Intensifier. The combination left me with naturally flushed, super glowy cheeks. Often it can be tough to find vegan illuminators or shadows as they often use crushed pearl or guanine from fish. Finally, I used the Ilia Satin Lip Crayon in Tainted Love. It’s a soft rosy pink colour, the perfect “my lips but better” shade. Vegan pigments haven’t had the best reputation, but these creamy crayons, which rely on a mix of natural oils, waxes and a blend of vibrant vegan pigments, are just as impressive as non-vegan lip colours.
It can be surprisingly challenging to locate vegan fragrances. Animal-derivatives, including musk, ambergris or civet, routinely turn up in perfumes. “We believe it is more humane to test cosmetics on New Yorkers than on animals,” says Le Labo, an entirely cruelty-free and vegan range from downtown Manhattan. I sampled its An0ther 13 Liquid Balm, which use s ambroxan, a synthetic animal musk along with twelve other ingredients. It’s an addictive scent that projects not so much animal magnetism as vegan magnetism. How fitting.
Words by Rhyanna CardilloPhotography by Nick DaleStyling by Marsha GolemacApril 2019
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