5 Weird Non-Vegan Ingredients You Can Find In Cosmetics

Beaver's anal gland secretions and animal fat are on the gruesome list
Some cosmetic products contain non-vegan ingredients (Photo: Mihai Stefan)

Being vegan extends beyond your dietary choices - animal products can make their way into a number of items - meaning shopping for personal care products requires a little bit of extra care.

When it comes to cosmetic and grooming products, there are a number of unusual ingredients taken from animals, and used in formulations - often for their emollient properties.

Below is a list of five unusual non-vegan products you may come across while choosing make-up, skincare, and other grooming products.

1. Castoreum

Found in some perfumes, (sometimes just labeled as 'parfum') and cosmetics, castoreum is a secretion that comes from the anal glands of beavers.

They use it to grease their fur and mark their territories. It also smells of vanilla - which explains (sort of) its inclusion in some sweet products. Beavers must be killed in order to harvest the castoreum.

‍Beavers must be killed in order to harvest castoreum

2. Lanolin

Lanolin, which is also known as 'wool fat' is essentially like hair grease - sheep produce it to ensure their wool is waterproof. It is then harvested for use in moisturising ointments (as well as some confectionary).

It is often found in emollient products like lipbalm because of its moisturizing properties, but can also be used in shaving, hair care and baby products as well as make-up.

3. Shellac

This resin is secreted by female lac insects, then used in products including mascara, hairspray, and pencils like eyeliner as well as some nail products.

It is often used to bind together ingredients, as it helps to stop emulsions from separating into oil and water-soluble components.

Beeswax can be found in lip balm and other products

4. Cera Alba

Often found in beauty products like lip balm, this sneaky ingredient may be more recognisable when listed under its other name - beeswax.

Produced by worker bees, it is used to create spaces to store honey. It is an animal by-product, and therefore not vegan.

5. Squalene

While there are vegan varieties of squalene (generally derived from olive oil, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil,  or yeast), this emollient substance can also be derived from shark liver oil.

It can be found in a huge range of cosmetic products, including skincare and moisturizing products, make-up like lipsticks, foundation and eye shadow, and sunscreen among others.

If you see squalene on the ingredients listing of a product, it is best to contact the manufacturer to see whether it is vegan or animal-derived.

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