5 hidden non-vegan ingredients that may be in your white label beauty products

Updated: Jul 19

In this article we’ll provide information on some ingredients that you might want to pay particular attention to when sourcing white label beauty products from a private label skincare manufacturer. The number of consumers that are demanding vegan skincare is growing. Therefore, ensuring you know exactly what is in the white label skincare you buy is more important than ever, to both maximise sales and ensure your brand’s equity is not tarnished by poor eco-credentials.

How big is the vegan skincare market?

Vegan credentials in skincare are part of the trend towards a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle adopted by consumers to benefit both their health and wellbeing and the planet.

The growing popularity of veganism in its traditional, food-based sense is exemplified by the growth in events such as Veganuary, which saw growth from 3.3k participants in 2014 to 582k in 2021 (a CAGR of c. 220%).

The movement has also seen growth into sectors such as fashion and beauty, as illustrated by the below points:

  • Between 2013 and 2018, vegan skincare launches grew by 175% (1)

  • A report in 2018, showed that vegan beauty brands only account for 1% of women’s face skincare, but growth is well above the category at 38% (2)

  • In 2019, the UK high-street retailer, Boots, recorded 56% increase in vegan searches in 2019 (3)

  • A recent Mintel study on “Natural, Organic and Ethical toiletries” (4) reported that:

  • 60% of respondents tried to use an ethical brand where possible;

  • 61% of respondents said that if they found out a brand has unethical practices it would influence them to stop using it

  • 51% of respondents believed that an ethical beauty or grooming brand was one that promoted animal welfare

  • Looking forward, MarketGlass predicted that the global vegan skincare market was forecast to grow at 5.6% CAGR from 2020-2027 (5)

This predicted growth in the trend is highlighted by the 2017 Mintel report (6), which showed that Gen Z and millennials (i.e. consumers born after 1980) have been at the heart of this movement. This group of consumers are often more informed regarding products’ ethical and environmental credentials. As they age and gain access to higher disposable incomes, so the size of this category will grow further.

Interestingly, a 2021 study showed that > 50% of UK respondents were not confident in identifying skincare products that contain animal-derived ingredients. This provides a brilliant opportunity for white label beauty brands to leverage vegan credentials as a message with which to communicate to and engage with consumers. (7)

How to identify animal-derived skincare ingredients

Some ingredients that don’t command a vegan badge are well known and can be easily spotted in skincare ingredients lists: these include honey (mel), lanolin (lanolin) and beeswax (cera alba).

However, some of the animal by-products that are common in both manufacturing processes and raw materials are less obvious. These can often not be determined from the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) names in isolation. Instead, ingredients documentation needs to be checked to understand the production processes that sit behind the ingredients. The good news is that if you are sourcing or looking to source your ingredients from a white label manufacturer, they can do all this hard, boring work for you if you ask.

Here are 5 ingredients commonly found in skincare products that may not be vegan

1. Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers perform a vital function in the manufacturing of moisturisers and creams. They are often sourced from inexpensive vegetable-based fats, such as coconut and rapeseed oil. However, they can also be based on animal fat-based ingredients such as tallow, derived from cow or sheep fat.

2. Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a strong Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (A-H-A)

Naturally-derived lactic acid is produced as a by-product of bacterial fermentation of different carbohydrates such as glucose, sucrose and lactose. However, sometimes, the lactose used in the fermentation process will come from dairy products or meat.

Companies should be able to tell you whether the lactic acid present in their formulas is derived from dairy, purely vegetable sources, or chemical synthesis.

3. Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic is a cult ingredient present on many well-known cosmetic brands, with Google

searches for this for this term more than doubling over the last 2 years!

The ingredient occurs abundantly in the body and has the capability to hold or trap >1000 times its weight in water. In skincare it has been shown to result in softer, smoother and more radiant skin, with its hydrating properties also slowing down the speed at which wrinkles form. (8)

Hyaluronic acid is often produced via fermenting bacteria. However, there are still practices which extract this compound from animal sources, including rooster combes (9)

4. Glycerine

Glycerine is a humectant, meaning that it attracts and holds water. This makes it an excellent ingredient to include in moisturisers. Like emulsifiers, it can be derived from either animal facts or vegetable oils, such as rapeseed, coconut and soy. The INCI on its own won’t allow you to determine whether a product is vegan-friendly or not. Your white label manufacturer should be able to confirm the origins.

5. Squalane

Squalane is another buzz word ingredient that has become popular in recent years due to its antioxidant and emollient properties.

Traditionally, this ingredient was sourced from shark liver oil. More recently sources have come on-line that are made from olive oil, wheat germ oil, or rice bran oil. Check with your supplier to confirm that it’s vegan friendly!

Cannafull's Vegan CBD Beauty Range

Luckily, we have a strong commitment to eco-friendly ingredients when we create our white label formulas and our Beauty range is 100% vegan friendly. Not only have we crafted a range that uses animal-friendly ingredients, we have also worked with suppliers to ensure that we can demonstrate vegan origin through the supply chain.

Our commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing is just one of the things that makes us stand out from the crowd. If you’d like to find about more why partnering with us can help set you apart from the competition, get in touch.


(1) https://www.mintel.com/blog/beauty-market-news/how-can-beauty-companies-make-the-most-of-veganisms-rising-popularity

(2) https://www.npdgroup.co.uk/wps/portal/npd/uk/news/press-releases/vegan-boost-to-prestige-beauty-market/

(3) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/skin/ageless-guide-vegan-beauty/

(4) https://reports.mintel.com/display/794401/

(5) https://www.reportlinker.com/p06033218/Global-Vegan-Cosmetics-Industry.html?utm_source=GNW

(6) https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/natural-beauty/vegan-beauty/vegan-beauty-experts/

(7) https://reports.mintel.com/display/794401/https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327952833_Hyaluronic_Acid_a_Promising_Skin_Rejuvenating_Biomedicine_A_Review_of_Recent_Updates_and_Pre-clinical_and_Clinical_Investigations_on_Cosmetic_and_Nutricosmetic_Effects

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754297/

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