WHAT DOES ‘VEGAN CERTIFIED’
ACTUALLY MEAN?

Meet the person behind the trademark

We’re proud to say that becoming vegan certified is not a simple process. Getting everything just
right requires expertise, so we decided it was probably best if we caught up with someone who
has done a lot of hard work getting our certification to where it is today.

 

MEET SHERIDAN

Sheridan works in The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark team. She’s a cosmetics fanatic with a fabulous mane of ‘accidentally blue’ hair. She first researched the dairy industry via social media about six years ago and went vegan “pretty much overnight.”

She’s all about spreading the good news and investigating the bad when it comes to vegan beauty - “I’m not into promoting the shock factor of veganism. When people ask me what I do, I get really excited because I’m doing something I love. All I want is for people to ask questions to find out for themselves. I want them to experience the same joy I do when I find a product that's registered with the Vegan Trademark and fits with my ethics. Whatever reason people go vegan or choose vegan for, I don’t mind, I’m just happy they are thinking about it.”

When it comes to meeting the vegan standards set by The Vegan Society, here’s what she’s looking out for:

Hyaluronic acid – “ingredients like hyaluronic acid don’t sound animal derived, but this acid is made through biotechnology. The fermentation process uses a substrate (the surface on which fermentation takes place) and we ensure that this is free from animal derivatives such as whey (a dairy derivative) or even blood serum.”

Enzymes – “enzymes can also be used as processing aids, with the most common being egg-derived enzymes.”

Glycerine – “this is another common ingredient found in cosmetics and can be both animal and plant-derived."

SNEAKY PROCESSING INGREDIENTS

“Auditing a product requires a lot of investigative work and an assessment of each raw material used. For The Body Shop, this hit well over 3,000 different raw materials which we went through in detail. A lot of companies making cosmetics ingredients can really struggle to get this information, so part of the support we provide is delving into the supply chain and asking the right questions at the right time.”

“It’s not just the raw ingredients you need to watch out for when it comes to certifying a product as vegan. There are many different processes that go into making cosmetics, which in the past have relied on animal by-products and, of course, there’s no reason why this should be the case anymore.”

‘Hyaluronic acid doesn’t sound animal-derived... but it can involve animal blood.”

Sheridan Rudge
The Vegan Society

SHERIDAN’S GUIDE TO BEAUTY BUZZWORDS

Since there’s no legal definition of ‘vegan’ and companies aren’t required to comply with vegan regulators like The Vegan Society, we asked Sheridan what phrases she’d be wary of if she took us shopping. Here’s what she’s double-checking:

‘ORGANIC’ AND ‘NATURAL’

“Just because something exists in nature doesn’t mean it’s kind. Everybody loves hearing that something is natural, but an animal-derived beauty ingredient could technically be ‘natural’ and classed as ‘organic’.”

‘CRUELTY FREE’

“Everyone wants cruelty free beauty, but people don't realise cruelty free just means ‘not tested on live animals.’ A product labelled ‘cruelty free’ can contain animal ingredients which are obviously not vegan. For example, if a product is labelled as ‘cruelty free’ and you see ingredients with oils or fatty acids, these could sometimes be animal-derived, so it's worth double checking the label for a vegan certification. Sometimes essential oils can have an animal carrier to dilute the oil, yet, on the pack’s label it’s not always clear, making it confusing for the consumer. If the product you’re buying has the Vegan Trademark, rest assured it doesn’t include any animal by-products.”

‘PLANT-BASED’

“Plant-based is a really great buzzword; it’s definitely a phrase that gets people thinking, but it doesn’t mean vegan either (and has even less regulation behind it). The final version of the ingredients might be plant-based, but animal ingredients could still have been used in the manufacturing and development process.”

‘VEGAN-FRIENDLY’

“We’ve seen plenty of brands making ‘vegan-friendly’ claims over the years. Products might have checked for things like dairy, honey, fish or meat but the checks aren’t particularly rigorous, and you can’t be sure how vegan the listed ingredients truly are. Often, you’ll see products with misleading claims like ‘97% plant-based’ or ‘nearly vegan’ or ‘vegan-friendly’ because it’s easy to put claims like that on labels without any legal pushback, but if you see the Vegan Trademark, you know it’s vegan to the highest standard.”

If you want to find out more about what The Vegan Society do, just click here.