Nilma Salek giving the final touches to a customer Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: We’ve all heard of vegan food, but vegan cosmetics?

Well, the beauty world tells us that they are all the rage in the UAE as a sudden spurt in eco-consciousness or just plain kindness is prompting more people to opt for this genre of products than ever before.

Neelam Keswani, founder of Dubai-based Glamazle.com, an online beauty and fashion store that stocks over 80 cosmetic and skincare brands, said: “Over 90 per cent of my customers want only cruelty-free and organic products now, whether it’s a Morphe brush, an Aromi lipstick or a Cozzette eyeshadow.

"The reasons are very simple: these products have not been tested on animals, do not have chemicals and are allergy-free. They also pick up much less product than a synthetic substitute.”

Keswani, who personally uses only cruelty-free products, said the Leaping Bunny stamp – a global standard of compassion for animals – is something customers routinely look for on beauty products these days, just to make sure they are buying the “right stuff”.

Complete kit

Nilma Salek, a UAE-based make-up artist, minces no words. “Animals are not owned by us to be used for our entertainment, food, clothes or any form of abuse,” said Salek, who is building a completely vegan make-up kit.

As she explained, vegan products are not just cruelty-free, they also do not include any animal-derived ingredients.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Aniumals (PETA) has made a list of vegan beauty and body product brands, which is available on its website for ready reference.

In fact, its “Beauty Without Bunnies” programme is considered the most credible resource for shoppers in a quest for cruelty-free products.

Vegan products are said to carry many benefits for the skin and body.

Says Reine Mina, head of department stores, pharmacies and online at Madi International, “Your skin needs vegan for various reasons.

“Plant-based ingredients are used instead of harmful animal-based ingredients. Nothing beats natural with its antioxidant and botanical substances. Skin is prone to be sensitive, so one should be cautious as many make-up brushes contain fur from animals such as squirrels, horses and mink which can inflame or irritate the skin.

"Vegan brands that are popular in our portfolio include Lashfood (eyelash and eyebrows enhancers), LCN (nail polish) and Kevin Murphy (hair care)," said Mina.

Sangeeta Kalsi, a make-up buff, puts things in perspective.

“Although people use ‘vegan’, ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘organic’ as buzzwords to draw customers in, products that are, in fact, vegan and cruelty-free pose fewer hazards, both for the ecosystem and for one’s skin.

"There was once a time when those who didn’t want to invest in animal-tested makeup turned to indie or ayurvedic products, but more and more brands are infiltrating the mainstream now, like Kat Von D, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Farsali, LUSH, Cozzette and Makeup Geek. They only create organic makeup.”

As she pointed out, the idea behind organic or ‘vegan’ make-up isn’t so much that they use vegetative products but that they contain little or no chemical fortifiers or fillers.

“This means that things such as parabens, carcinogens available in so many varieties of shampoos, soaps, moisturisers, SPFs, foundations, concealers, etc., are not a part of the mix.

Such make-up looks as good as it feels, and a lot of times will not clog pores or lead to cold sores or acne,” said Kalsi, adding: “As someone who suffers with adult acne, I much prefer the vegan options. It’s a plus that these are great for the environment.” The high level of awareness among consumers like her is not lost on those in the business.

Harmful ingredients

Dubai-based Sandhya Prakash, International Veg Union – UK board member and founder of MEVEG, said, “Would you put something on your skin if you knew it involved skinning another sentient being?

She said: “A brand like LUSH scream that they are 100 per cent cruelty-free, 100 per cent vegetarian, 83 per cent vegan. Whether you’re looking to support such brands or want to stock up on more cruelty-free make-up, that extra research will make you feel good inside out.”