10 Animal Ingredients in Beauty Products

10 Animal Ingredients in Beauty Products

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Have you taken a good look at the ingredients list on each of the cosmetic products you use? Did you ever think that there might be animal hair in the makeup brushes you use or the red dye in your lipstick comes from crushed female cochineal scale insects? Ewwww!

It can be quite astonishing to find out how many animal by-products are squeezed into cosmetics these days and given misleading names for the sake of sales! 

This is especially surprising when you consider how many vegan and cruelty-free brands there are out there that you could be using instead. I believe beauty should never hurt – you or anyone else.

Here is the list and get ready to be grossed out!Animal ingredients in beauty products


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

CARMINE: Red dye obtained from crushed female cochineal scale insects, more than 150,000 insects may be required for 2 pounds of dye!! A product can say “All Natural” ingredients and has carmine in it.

It is used as a colorant in cosmetics mostly lipsticks and blushes.

Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer is an example of that.

SHELLAC: Dark brown resin from the excretions of lac scale insects, collected from the branches the insects live on. ⁠Used in lacquers and polishes.⁠⁠

STEARIC ACID: Obtained from the fat of animals (can also be from vegetable fats)Used as an emulsifier and cleaning agent in cosmetics.

GUANINE: Crushed fish scales. Industrially manufactured from the scales and skin of fish. ⁠Used as an opacifier and colorant in cosmetics.⁠ Mascaras, nail polishes and lipsticks.

SQUALANE: Obtained from SHARK liver oil.⁠ Used as an anti-static, hair conditioner in cosmetics in eye makeup and lipsticks. Note that Amaranth seed, rice bran, wheat germ and olives are just a few sustainable, vegetarian substitutes from which squalane can be extracted and used instead of shark sources.

MOST companies now use plant sources, but here is a study by BLOOM, a non-profit organization founded in 2005 that works to preserve the marine environment and species from unnecessary destruction, that shows creams and lotion containing shark squalane.

Creams containing shark squalane


ANIMAL HAIR: Obtained by shearing or plucking the fur of a living or killed animals.⁠ Used in making cosmetic makeup brushes.⁠

Reasons why you should stop using animal hair brushes:

  • They are prone to shedding – Not only does it look and feel coarse, but animal hair makeup brushes also shed.
  • They don’t retain their shape well – Synthetic makeup brushes are man-made so the shapes are created to pick up pigment just like animal hair does. After multiple washes, it dries quick and retains its shape allowing it to last longer than most animal hair makeup brushes.
  • They are mainly used for powder formulas – When using a formula, such as a liquid, you can see that it doesn’t spread as well and soaks up a lot of product. It can come off streaky because there’s no blending ability with animal hair makeup brushes. Synthetic makeup brushes can be used with any type of product formula including cream, powders, liquids and gels.

LANOLIN: The fatty substance found naturally in sheep’s wool. Obtained by washing out their wool or slaughtered sheep.⁠ Used in lipsticks and makeup removers. ⁠

HYDROLYZED SILK: Chemically altered proteins from silk that was obtained from boiling and killing silkworms. ⁠Used as an anti-static, hair and skin conditioner in cosmetics.

KERATIN: Obtained from ground horns, hooves, claws, nails, hair, scales and feathers of animals. ⁠Used as hair and skin conditioner in cosmetics.⁠

TALLOW: Rendered from melted fatty tissues primarily from slaughterhouse waste.⁠ Used in many cosmetic ingredients like emulsifiers and conditioners.⁠ When purchasing any products, a quick look at the ingredients can help you make informed decisions.

Look for words like:

  • 100% Plant-derived
  • Vegetable-based
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan

And if you care about animals at all, please do check the ingredients lists of all your cosmetic products and skincare to ensure no animal ingredients are in your beauty products.

You can read more about the comprehensive list of animal-derived ingredients list here on the PETA website.

Natural Clean Beauty Stores

Five clean beauty stores that carry many of the clean skincare and makeup brands at different price points.

They are a platform for connecting you with all the nontoxic beauty.

A place where people KNOW that EVERY product is nontoxic.

Citrine Natural Beauty Bar – Here you can find skincare under $50. You can refine your search by skin concerns and skin type

The Detox Market – Try the little sample bag they offer AND get 10% off your order when you sign up for emails

Petit Vour – Take a look at their beauty sale AND you can take their useful foundation quiz.

Aillea – See products under $25

The Choosy Chick – This family-run company was created out of a personal quest to find safe and effective health and beauty care products.

They have nontoxic products for the whole family! Shop their sale here. nontoxic beauty.

As always,

Read product labels,

Know your ingredients,

AND stay safe!


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