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7 Celebrities Fuelling the Vegan Cosmetics Revolution

Once perceived as something for overly health-conscious people, the vegan lifestyle is now one of the most popular lifestyle trends of the 21st century. 2019, to be precise, was declared the year of the vegan, and the trend is not showing signs of receding any time soon. This has a ripple effect with the demand for all things vegan spreading to other industries.

In the beauty and cosmetic arena, for instance, vegan skincare products are now a popular choice among consumers and many celebrities are jumping on the vegan and cruelty-free bandwagon by producing their own brands. If you’ve always wanted to go vegan but don’t have the heart to resist that juicy steak, then you should take this opportunity. As time goes by, you’ll probably see the immense benefits of vegan products and want to extend them to other areas of your life.

Nearly two decades ago, Jessica Simpson had an edible cosmetics line called Dessert Beauty, sold at Sephora. It was sugary and sexy, a shimmering distillation of the spirit of the early aughts. Then it disappeared. At the time, Simpson and her then husband Nick Lachey starred in one of the earliest celebrity reality shows, MTV’s Newlyweds. It was a simpler time, predating Instagram, Kardashians, and sponcon. Celebrity beauty looks were documented and dissected primarily on red carpet shows and in gossipy magazines like Us and Star.

Since Maybelline featured silent-film stars in its 1920s print ads, celebrities and their magnetism have been employed to front beauty products. In more modern times, they’ve signed licensing agreements, essentially meaning they allow their name and image to be stamped on a perfume or lipstick, or perhaps just an advertisement for a perfume or lipstick, that they are otherwise uninvolved in creating. This model historically thrived in beauty as a way to give consumers a perceived piece of a celebrity’s lifestyle.

The beauty industry has tended to rely on celebrity endorsement more heavily than other consumer goods, like cleaning or cooking. “This is a category celebrities are believed to be knowledgeable about,” says Patti Williams, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. These are people who spend a lot of time in makeup chairs. No small part of their job is to look impeccable. But Dessert Beauty was a ground breaker on a new tier of endorsement and aspiration: Before, you could smell like a famous person, via Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds or Curious by Britney Spears. Now, you could eat their makeup.

Now we have glosses and liners and at least one “lash sparkle topper” from Selena Gomez (Rare Beauty), Lady Gaga (Haus Laboratories), and Halsey (About-Face). Jada Pinkett Smith’s Hey Humans brand includes body wash and toothpaste. Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, and Tracee Ellis Ross have hair-care lines. Cardi B has recently announced she’s planning to come out with one of her own.

These stars are not just licensing their good names, some are putting their money where their lipsticks are and taking actual ownership stakes in full beauty lines, possibly to the tune of millions of dollars. In a dramatic change of approach, they are less brand ambassadors and more beauty executives. Granted, this is not an entirely new concept: Iman Cosmetics (born in 1994), Gwyneth Paltrow’s Gooplex (established 2008), and Jessica Alba’s Honest Company (launched in 2012) have all successfully leveraged perceived expertise into bankable, valuable companies. But that model was the exception, not the rule. Then Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics came along and blew the market wide open; the former proving that an inclusive shade range can indeed be profitable and the latter converting social media buzz into the rapid sale of Lip Kits

Vegan skincare, just as the name implies, refers to the use of purely plant-based products on your skin. Such products do not contain any artificial or synthetic additives. Hence, they are plant-based and all-natural. Note, vegan and cruelty-free beauty products are often lumped together, but there is a remarkable difference between them.

Cruelty-free skincare refers to the use of products that have not been tested on animals. This means that even though they spread kindness to animals, some of the ingredients may be synthetic or animal-derived. For instance, a majority usually contains beeswax and lanolin.  Therefore, don’t confuse a cruelty-free and a vegan product. Ensure you review the ingredients to be sure. Vegan skincare products, on the other hand, are both cruelty-free and all-natural. So they give you the double benefit of being kind to animals and avoiding the harsh chemicals found in other beauty products.

Vegan skincare products are purely plant-based. Each ingredient is sourced from plants. So they are chemical-free and do not contain any artificial additives. This makes them more beneficial for your skin. For instance, natural ingredients found in these products such as chamomile, aloe vera, and tea tree have been tested and tried and have been proven to have purification benefits. Therefore, using them helps remove excess oil and any pore-clogging impurities and as a result, treat and prevent acne. They also give the skin a silky-soft feel. They are also rich in Vitamins such as B, C, and E, which assist in cell regeneration, thus keeping your skin looking young and vibrant. Such ingredients are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, they are also great on sensitive skin and help with skin problems such as eczema, allergies, and skin inflammation, among many others.

With the rise of veganism and plant-based lifestyles comes the rise of vegan beauty. Although cutting animal products from your diet is a major step for the environment and yourself, removing them from your makeup routine is vital, too.

Some Celebrity Offerings

In 2021, Harry Styles launched Pleasing, a certified cruelty-free and vegan beauty company. Pleasing “prioritizes people and the planet” by making efforts to source ingredients responsibly, working with transparent suppliers, and only using synthetic or ethically-sourced mica. Products available as of March 2022 include an overnight serum, a hand and nail balm, and biodegradable nail polish in several colours. Plus, Pleasing works with different charities for each new drop, including climate justice organization Cool Earth and artisan charity Nest.

Pleasing’s website uses the catch phrase: We’re Pleasing, never perfect. They state “although Pleasing prioritizes people and the planet, we know that we can always do better and we strive to do so every day. We are humbled and excited by the opportunity Pleasing has to develop our own initiatives and work with organizations close to us. We want to celebrate the kindness, creativity and optimism in our community and the future we are all creating together.”

In 2021, “Bad Guy” singer and outspoken animal rights activist, Billie Eilish, launched her very first fragrance, under the company name Billie Eilish Fragrances. The vegan and cruelty-free scent, called Eilish, is reminiscent of the vanilla she and her mom used to use while baking together as a child. It’s bottled in a bronze bottle that resembles a woman’s bust, and it sounds like it’s the first of many to come.

Eilish wanted the complete fragrance to be a representation of herself. The bottle symbolizes Eilish’s favorite spots on the human body: the chest, the neck, and the collarbone. For Eilish, the scent also brings back memories of her childhood bedroom. “It reminds me of when I was 14. I had this shirt, and it was like a mesh black turtleneck. I don’t know why it reminds me of that shirt, but it does,” says Eilish. “I think about the closet I had that shirt in. I had it in a big wooden closet in my room, and it kinds of smells like that. So that is what comes to mind.”

That feeling of nostalgia is one of the main takeaways Eilish wants for people who don her new fragrance. “I always want people to feel nostalgia. It’s one of the best gifts that we have in life and also being sentimental.

Vegan pop-star and beauty queen, Ariana Grande, has her own animal-free makeup line called r.e.m beauty, in partnership with Forma Brands. According to VegNews, the first launch, called “chapter 1: ultraviolet,” focuses on eyes, and features a liquid eyeliner; volumizing mascara; lengthening mascara; three shades of kohl eye pencils; eyeshadow palettes; liquid eyeshadow, and two styles of faux mink lashes.

Longtime vegan Ariana Grande released her first makeup brand, r.e.m beauty in 2021. Grande had been working on the brand, which carries her signature mod ‘50s and ‘60s aesthetic with an intergalactic twist, for several years in partnership with incubator Forma Brands. Grande grew up eating very few animal products and officially announced her veganism on Twitter in 2013. While Grande hit a few (non-vegan doughnut-sized) bumps on her vegan journey, the 28-year-old musical artist extends her animal-loving beliefs to her business ventures.

The new r.e.m makeup line is joining Grande’s thriving perfume business. The star began releasing fragrances in 2015, starting with the eponymously named Ari by Ariana Grande—a scent that featured notes of pear, pink grapefruit, and marshmallow. Working with Florida-based Luxe Brands, the musician has since released additional fragrances inspired by her albums, songs, and interests, including Cloud (an uplifting scent with notes of lavender blossom, juicy pear, and bergamot); Thank You Next (inspired by Grande’s 2018 song); and R.E.M. (a science-fiction inspired fragrance housed in a crystal-covered bottle).

Kylie Jenner’s company Kylie Cosmetics is best known for its Lip Kits, which are lightweight, smudge-resistant — and not to mention — completely free of animal-derived ingredients, as of August 2021. The brand previously used carmine, or ground-up beetles, as well as other non-vegan ingredients, but is now vegan. The brand has always been cruelty-free, too.

Kylie Jenner’s company Kylie Cosmetics is best known for its Lip Kits, which are lightweight, smudge-resistant — and not to mention — completely free of animal-derived ingredients, as of August 2021. The brand previously used carmine, or ground-up beetles, as well as other non-vegan ingredients, but is now vegan. The brand has always been cruelty-free, too.

Stranger Things actress, Millie Bobby Brown, debuted a vegan makeup line in August 2019 called Florence By Mills with a highly popular Glow Yeah Lip Oil, 16 Wishes Eye Palette, and a No Chill Face Mist. As a notorious animal lover, Millie kept the line completely free of animal by-products, and ensures that all products are totally cruelty-free.

“Lose You To Love Me” singer, Selena Gomez, became part of the vegan beauty scene with a totally PETA-approved line of vegan and cruelty-free makeup called Rare Beauty. From hydrating lip tints, to moisturizing concealers, the brand offers all of the necessities, and it donates 1 percent of the profits to mental health organizations in underserved communities.

Rihanna has become a self-made billionaire thanks to her cruelty-free companies Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. The super trendy makeup and skincare brands have embraced sustainability more and more as they have grown, even offering some refillable products, reef-safe formulas, and more. That said, while Fenty Skin is 100 percent vegan, Fenty Beauty is only mostly vegan, so make sure to check the description for each product before making a purchase.

Growth of Vegan Beauty Products

A new report predicts the global vegan cosmetics market will exceed $21 billion by the year 2027. Research firm MarketGlass says the industry, currently worth a staggering $15.1 billion, will grow at a CAGR of 5.1 percent over the next seven years. Previous reports have cited increasing concerns regarding health and safety, and consumer awareness on animal-testing as key drivers for the growth. Moreover, ’embracing natural substitutes such as plant-based personal care products is working in favour of the market’.

Earlier this year, a UK-based testing lab secured more than $14,000 to develop cruelty-free cosmetics and personal care products. XCellR8 received the funding for its six-month study in the CRACK IT Challenges competition that ‘funds collaborations between industry, academics and SMEs’. It is sponsored by Unilever and AstraZeneca. The animal-free testing lab aims to remove animal-derived products from in vitro tests to create new products and chemical ingredients. Step by step, bit by bit, the beauty product industry is turning a corner and we can’t wait to see more of this.