The whole area of skincare and the raw ingredients in a product can be complex for any ethical consumer. When it comes to identifying vegan skincare, the task becomes more arduous.
Ingredients in cosmetics and skincare are labelled by their International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients names -INCI for short – rather than their common names. The problem for the consumer is understanding these, particularly when wanting to avoid ingredients of animal origin. For example, Beeswax might hide behind the INCI name of Cera Alba, Lanolin derivatives can have a variety of names, not all of which are recognisable. In addition websites will often list prominently the key 3 or 4 ingredients used, perhaps alongside a photo of these; to find the full ingredients panel you may have to scroll down the website page or search yet it is most likely to be here where you will find the ingredients you are striving to avoid. It often seems like companies could be more helpful, especially by identifying vegan products.
Some companies will state that the majority of their products are vegan but then you might find their premium range doesn’t comply as they start to add more animal-derived ingredients. Without detailed knowledge of INCI listings, the only way you can be certain is if the range is certified as vegan by a trusted authority.
The Vegan Society have an easily recognisable trademark which will be displayed on packaging or on the website. This shows that the company does not use any animal products or their derivatives in their products and has not done so in the product development stage. Furthermore, there can be no animal testing conducted by or initiated by a company showing the Vegan trademark. GMO’s also have to be identified. To achieve certification a company must submit the full list ingredients used in each of its products for scrutiny and must commit to avoid any cross contamination with animal products. The Vegan Society licence must be renewed regularly.
At Nourish London, we have our own factory where all products are developed and made and so we have full control over all ingredients and processes. Having this regulatory framework means that any new ingredients being considered during new product development will be screened to ensure they fit the criteria before they are brought into the factory.
Independent certification by the Vegan Society is important to us and we know that customers value this alongside our declaration of the specific organic percentage of each product. To be able to choose any product from a range without having to check and cross reference is so much more enjoyable. We believe that transparency in product labelling should be the norm but at the moment the consumer has to be vigilant.
Words by Anne Hahlo ( Brand Marketing Manager for Nourish) for Vegan Life Magazine, June 2017, Issue 27.