Intertek's Assurance in Action Podcast Network

Sustainable Cosmetics – Episode 2 on Vegan Cosmetics

November 18, 2021 Intertek Season 5 Episode 3
Intertek's Assurance in Action Podcast Network
Sustainable Cosmetics – Episode 2 on Vegan Cosmetics
Show Notes Transcript

In episode two of Assurance in Action’s series on cosmetics, Intertek cosmetics experts discuss the market for vegan cosmetics, as well as steps organisations can take to meet guidelines for vegan product certification. Experts Maëva Duchateau, Juliane Coursol, and Emmeline Watier also look into factors such as labelling and consumer confidence as it relates to creating and selling vegan cosmetic products.

Join our Intertek experts as they discuss the movement, market, and solutions behind vegan cosmetics.

Speaker 1 0:18
Green, naturality, upcycling, sustainability, responsible, transparency

These are some new words frequently used to define cosmetics today. 

My name is Maëva and I am here with Juliane and Emmeline. We are Regulatory Affairs Specialist at ITK France.

Welcome to our special podcast series aimed at discussing green topics within the cosmetics industry.

Veganism is a way of life that excludes animal exploitation, and this impacts our daily life at several levels. At first, we obviously think of food excluding any food of animal origin or from animal production. But the clothes one wears can also be affected, like leather or wool, as well as entertainment that use animals such as corrida. Some products including cosmetics could also be a concern for veganism.

More and more brands are selling vegan products and ranges. 

Today, the vegan beauty market represents 15 billion dollars, and it is expected to exceed 27 billion dollars by 2027 according to ReportLinker research. 

So question today is what does vegan mean in cosmetics? 

So my first question will be about raw material. Before talking about vegan finished product, I guess we will start with vegan raw material. Emmeline and Juliane, Could you tell us more about what is a vegan raw material, please? 

Speaker 2 2:20

Thank you for your question Maeva. “Vegan” isn’t defined by European Cosmetics Regulation n°1223/2009 or by any other authorities. Therefore, “vegan” doesn’t have any official definition. 

A vegan raw material generally doesn’t contain any animal origin ingredients or derivatives in its composition. In the same way, a vegan cosmetic product doesn’t contain any animal origin ingredient in its formula.

Speaker 3 2:52

Yes Emmeline, and Vegan claims can be based on different criteria. For example, the absence of ingredients of animal origin in the manufacturing process could be considered.

Speaker 1 3:05

Ok, so and do you have any example which are potentially from animal origin? What type of raw material are concerned? 

Speaker 3 3:17

Firstly, there are Animal origin ingredients that are destructive. It means that they involve the death of the animal to obtain the ingredient. To name a few, there are carmin which is from cochineal, animal fats or proteins like marin collagen via skin, bones, or fish scales or bovin collagen via skin and bones.


Speaker 2 3:44

On top of that, I would add that It’s also possible to find formulas which contain derivatives in our cosmetics.

Derived animal origin ingredients or by-products aren’t destructive. They are obtained by animal exploitation and don’t imply the death of an animal. For example, there are all the sourced ingredients, such as honey and beeswax from beehives, milk and lactic derivatives, snail slime, or lanolin from sheep wool.

Speaker 1 4:17

That’s quite interesting because there are some obvious ingredients like active ingredient, I think it’s more knowed by consumer. In the other side, there are some animal or derived animal ingredients use for the formula. More unknown by consumer. Now let’s talk about finished product  How cosmetic brands could claim to be a vegan product?

Speaker 3 4:48

Actually, There is no obligation for claiming to be vegan. It’s completely free for the supplier of raw material or cosmetics brand to claim to be vegan on their raw material or products. Indeed, they have the right to communicate the vegan mention by adding a logo or a sentence on the packaging which make communication to consumers easier. But, it’s mandatory that the brands comply with the European Regulation n°655/2013 relating to cosmetic claims. They must be able to justify their allegation to be compliant. 

Speaker 1 5:32

Ok, then what are the reference labels for the vegan cosmetic market?

Speaker 2 5:41

For the international market, “Vegan Society” have files for vegan cosmetics since 1944.

For the European market, EVE “Expertise Vegane Europe” is the first organisation dedicated to the control and certificate products relating to vegan quality. In France, Expertise Vegane Europe, Eve Vegan certifies vegan products and services in the cosmetics, food, and textile sectors. 

Speaker 1 6:13

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a label ?

Speaker 2 6:19

I’s a good question. A label is evaluated by an independent party; it’s a guarantee of quality and confidence for the customer or consumer. However, the cost of certification and the complexity of the procedures can complicate the certification process.

Speaker 1 6:42

OK. This year, many brands claimed their product cruelty free international. Vegan, Cruelty free, I think it’s not really clear for consumers, what is the difference between this terms? 



Speaker 3 7:00

Yes, it can be confusing. Although both terms are often associated together, vegan and cruetly free are different in cosmetics. Actually the term “vegan” corresponds to a product without any animal origin ingredient, while cruetly free relates to the cruelty of animals. 

The cruetly free label have been created by the PETA association who advocates the absence of animal testing of ingredients and finished products in cosmetics, just like Leaping Bunny. 

Paradoxically, a raw material or a finished product certified cruelty free doesn’t guarantee the absence of animal origin ingredients. Some labels allow both of these criteria to be combined. 

Speaker 2 7:52

As a reminder, animal testing has been prohibited by the Cosmetic Regulations since 2013. The absence of a claim is a regulatory requirement and not an ethical commitment. 

Speaker 1 8:04

I think it is a good reminder to make I propose you a True or False now 

Speaker 2 8:12

Ok good

Speaker 1 8:14

First question, is a raw material or a vegan product always natural or from natural origin?

Speaker 3 8:23

No, it isn’t

Consumers tend to mix things up, but these two claims are not linked. A vegan product doesn’t meet the definitions of naturalness. To illustrate it, a product containing only ingredients of petrochemical origin is considered vegan because it doesn’t contain ingredients of animal origin, however, it’s not natural. As explained in the first podcast on naturalness in cosmetics, a natural raw material can contain ingredients of plant, mineral, animal, or bacterial origin. 

Speaker 1 9:01

Ok, the second question, will a product that has a composition without ingredients of animal origin necessarily be claimed as vegan?

Speaker 2 9:16


A product that doesn’t contain any ingredient of animal origin will not necessarily be claimed as vegan. This is a voluntary and not mandatory step on the part of the brand. This involves a process with analysis and verification of intrinsic criteria to the product, thus making it possible to meet the EC 655/2013 regulation on the justification of claims. 

Speaker 1 9:49

Thank you Emmeline and Juliane for all this information and explanation about vegan in cosmetics industry. Do you have Anything to add maybe? 

Speaker 2 10:03

To remember, vegan claims may be based on different criteria.

There are products on the market, claimed and/or certified as vegan or not.

Speaker 1 10:14

We also must dissociate Vegan from cruelty free. First point, ingredients of animal origin or animal testing are unrelated. Second point, Natural from vegan, a vegan product isn’t necessarily natural. 

What about Intertek’s services now? 

Intertek assists clients in developing specifications according to his, your, their needs. Intertek collects and analyses suppliers information to know if the raw material of finished product meets the criteria. Thus, they will have the possibility to claim the mention Vegan.

Speaker 1 11:02

It’s quite common for consumers to associate a natural and/or vegan cosmetic product with a “safer” cosmetic product. As we have seen in this episode and the previous one, naturalness and being vegan have no connection with the safety of a cosmetic. In addition, the term "clean" is more and more present. But who is behind a so-called "clean" cosmetic? We will discuss this in the next episode.

Speaker 1 11:37

Thank you for listening and see you soon!

Speaker 2 & 3 11:41

Thank you bye