Buying gifts for your vegan friends can be tricky! It’s a challenge to find the perfect gift that suits their needs and fits their values. Deciding to cut out animal products doesn’t just mean going meat-free at meals, it also extends out of the kitchen into every aspect of your life! Most of your vegan friends will be self-taught experts on the ins and outs of vegan foods, fashion and of course vegan beauty!

From natural and organic to cruelty free and vegan… all the different industry terms can make it a bit overwhelming in knowing what brands fit with your requirements so to make sure you find the perfect present for your vegan pals this year, we’ve put together a handy guide of how to cut through the jargon and choose a gift you know your vegan friends will adore.

The first thing to be aware of is that there’s very little to stop a brand calling itself ‘natural’, even if they don’t have the ingredients and practices to back it up. Don’t be fooled by a sneaky leaf or bunny on the packaging, it may not mean what you think!

Know The Lingo:
  • Cruelty-free: means that neither the product nor its ingredients were tested on animals. For something to be entirely cruelty-free (and worthy of a stamp), this must refer to every stage of the manufacturing process.


  • Vegan: the product contains absolutely no animal-derived ingredients (some brands talk about ‘vegetarian’ products, but these can still contain ingredients like milk, honey and beeswax as these refer to separate steps in the creation, products can be vegan but not cruelty-free, and vice versa.)
Know Your Logos:

  • The Leaping Bunny: Created by The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, this is the most stringent of CF certifications, and requires each company who applies to take part in full audits to make sure no animal testing sneaks in.
  • The PETA Bunny: PETA’s logo requires a pledge from brands that they themselves conduct no animal testing, and don’t buy ingredients from suppliers that do. They also have a stamp for products that are both cruelty-free and vegan. If you’re not sure about a brand, you can also look them up on PETA’s database
  • The Sunflower: Anyone interested in a plant-based lifestyle becomes closely acquainted with the Vegan Society’s sunflower mark. The Vegan Society conducts annual audits to make sure no brand carrying its stamp uses products or by-products from any member of the animal kingdom (including invertebrates). They also test for cross-contamination, so with a stamped brand, you know you’re getting exactly what’s on the label.
What if brands don’t have a stamp?

While these stamps are amazing to help identify a brand’s ethos it can be a long and expensive process to get registered meaning some smaller brands may not have the accreditation. In these cases, you’ll have to do a little detective work and learn to read and translate ingredients.

To help you out here’s our list of the most common non-vegan beauty ingredients. Some of these have plant-based alternatives, but brands will specify. If you’re not sure about any others, Paula’s Choice is an incredible online beauty dictionary that will help you translate even the most complicated of terms.

Cheat Sheet! Vegan-Unfriendly Ingredients:
  • Lanolin: A wax harvested from sheep’s wool as a form of natural waterproofing. Most often used in lip and hair products as a moisturiser.
  • Glycerine: A key ingredient in non-vegan soap recipes, glycerine can be derived from animal fats.
  • Casein / Sodium Caseinate: Used for its conditioning properties, casein is made from cow’s milk.
  • Oleic Acid: The chemical name for tallow, or rendered animal fat, to soften and condition. It can also be made from plant-based fats, like coconut and tree nuts, so check with the brand if you’re unsure.
  • Snail Slime or Gel: Sometimes found in creams, snail slime is a moisturiser and emollient.
  • Squalene: A common ingredient in anti-ageing moisturisers, squalene can be made from shark-liver-oil.
  • Retinol: A derivative of Vitamin A, this anti-ageing powerhouse often comes from liver, eggs and dairy.
  • Collagen and Elastin: Staples of anti-ageing products, collagen and elastin can be made from animal proteins.
  • Keratin: Adds strengthening properties to nail and hair products, keratin is mainly found from animal horns and hair.
  • Guanine / Pearl Essence: Often found in sparkly products, guanine gets its shine from fish scales.
  • Shellac: A resin created by lac bugs, this is included in nail and hair products to give a shiny coating.
  • Carmine / Cochineal: A red pigment, used since the Aztecs, crushed cochineal beetles can be found in lipsticks, nail varnishes and blushers.
  • Beeswax / Cera Alba (the Latin name allows it to hide in plain sight): Used in a huge range of makeup and skincare products, beeswax keeps formulations from separating, and as a hardening agent in ‘stick’ products.

It might seem a little overwhelming navigating these terms but trust us its totally worth it when your vegan-pal adores the extra thoughtful gifts you give them. Our entire range of Alchemy Oils are proud carriers of both Vegan Society & cruelty-free stamps, and members of the Beauty without Bunnies programme, so you know you can’t go wrong with our little remedies for gorgeous (vegan) hair care!

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