Vegan skincare: Ingredients to avoid

Sarah Brown is the founder of Pai Skincare. Entrepreneur, mum and sensitive-skinned soul.

We have a growing number of enquiries from vegans in search of suitable organic skincare.

To ensure your products are all animal-friendly, look out for the following when scanning your ingredient lists.


All Pai creams are free from beeswax – which is relatively unusual in the natural beauty world.

I don’t just leave out beeswax for our vegan customers. I also leave it out because it’s not great for the skin.

Beeswax is considered an animal ‘by-product’ because it is produced from the honeycomb made by busy bees. It is commonly used in natural cosmetics as an emulsifier or thickener – an ingredient that helps the water and oil elements of a cream bind together.

Beeswax also forms the basis of balms, which create a protective barrier on the skin. Though beeswax is a great natural ingredient, it is not absorbed well by the skin and can make face creams feel cloying and leave behind greasy residues. Because it can’t penetrate the epidermis, it can also suffocate sensitive skin and block pores.


This is an oily residue from lamb’s wool that is used in a lot of mainstream hair and skincare products for its moisturising and emulsifying qualities.

For more information on lanolin and sensitive skin, take a look at my earlier blog.


Vitamin A is great for the skin but it’s important to note that it exists in two forms. Retinol is the animal-derived form and can be found in products such as anti-wrinkle and eye creams.

Lactic Acid

This can be found in animal tissue and can be derived from milk. Lactic Acid is often used in exfoliators and even skin peels and can work well as a line and scar reducer. It is also used as a pH regulator. Pai only ever uses plant-derived lactic acid extracted from sugar beet.

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