Veganism is not just about avoiding the exploitation of animals through diet, but also through the way you carry out other aspects of lifestyle. The things we wear and products we put on our bodies may have involved some level of cruelty, from animals being skinned alive for clothing, to brutal lab tests on animals to ensure that certain ingredients are safe for human use.
Most major cosmetic brands state that they are cruelty-free UNLESS required by law to do ingredient or final product testing. The only country in the world that has this law is China. So do a quick Google search to see if any of your favourite brands sell their products in China. If they do, it means these brands by default are NOT cruelty-free.
This is not to say that every single product that gets sold in China has gone through this procedure. But when there is an order to test, it happens without question. Many brands use this loophole and publicly phrase their cruelty-free policies in ambiguous ways, which lures ethical consumers into thinking that they would be supporting an ethical brand.
China is indeed a fantastic market to tap into. It’s a capitalistic no-brainer. China is currently one of the largest economies in the world. But there are a few brands out there who, out of sheer principle, don’t sell their products in China. It takes a lot of guts to do that, and of course I’d be much more in favour of supporting these guts.
There are a few other brands who sell in China, but are in constant dialogue with the country to see how it can improve its policies. Doing what they can with their influence, in my books, is respectable too.
My go-to website is Cruelty-Free Kitty, which features a comprehensive list of international companies that test, and those that don’t, with regular updates on companies that alter their policies to leave one list and join the other.
On a personal level, I try and support my community as much as I can. And I don’t use much makeup, but when I do, I opt for products that are cruelty-free. I’ve discovered some brands that tick both boxes, being homegrown and against animal testing.
Please note that the title doesn’t mention ‘Vegan’, as some of these brands use animal by-products… in this case, beeswax and silk protein.
Beeswax is a natural secretion from bees that they use to build their honeycombs and protect their young.
Silk is a form of protein derived from of the silkworm. To prepare for its pupa stage, the silkworm spins a single thread of silk, about a kilometre long, around itself to form a cocoon. In order for this thread to be extracted in its unbroken form, the silkworms are killed whilst still in their cocoons, by hot air, steam, or boiling water.
The internet is rich with info on the many other animal by-products that can be found in beauty products, and if you’re curious to find out more, you’d discover some pretty weird stuff.
Do note that not all vegan products are cruelty-free, and not all cruelty-free products are vegan. If you’re a strict vegan, you would normally be concerned with animal by-products like beeswax and silk protein. I find that more consumers in general are more concerned with the cruelty-free label. This list is not entirely vegan, and would be appropriate for those who are making a transition to a more ethical lifestyle, starting with choosing cruelty-free.
My list will mention which brands are only cruelty-free, and which are cruelty-free and vegan.
MADU COSMETICS (CRUELTY-FREE)
Madu Cosmetics is owned by Malaysian artiste Hunny Madu. She was very hands-on with the development of the brand, from the skin-safe formulation to packaging and design, and makes sure she has a brand she is proud to share with her lady tribe, and proud of wearing herself. So far the line covers lip makeup, all approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Health, free from fragrance and parabens, and not tested on animals. ‘The Artiste’ lipstick collection contains beeswax, and features classic bold matte colours. The ‘Queen’ Collection is vegan, and comprises of moisturizing nude-hued lip cremes.
Each Madu product is named after a song that is a favourite of Hunny’s, or a song of her own, and are all highly praised for being highly pigmented and moisturizing.
Shop for Madu Cosmetics here.
Founded by Intan Halim, Serasi started out as a personal project to provide chemical-free products for herself and her family. Serasi means ‘compatible’ in Bahasa, and the brand’s appeal lies in its suitability for sensitive skin, mature skin and even babies. The company features products for body, skincare and overall well-being, all handmade with raw and fresh ingredients in small batches by Intan herself. She tests product prototypes on herself and her family before she deems it suitable for sale.
Serasi’s loyal customers have raved about the Translucent Face Powder.
Containing arrowroot powder, organic cacao powder and organic cinnamon powder, it comes in 3 shades and offers a natural way to keep the face matte and fresh. It also contains silk protein, so a word of caution to vegans.
Serasi’s Translucent Face Powder can be purchased online under Skincare.
ORKID COSMETICS (VEGAN, CRUELTY-FREE, HALAL)
As a company that comes with Cruelty Free International, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), Made in Malaysia, Vegan Society and Halal accreditations, there’s a lot going for Orkid Cosmetics – and this is with liquid lipsticks alone! Headed by celebrated young entrepreneur Raeesa Sya, all products are made in small batches to minimise wastage, by a manufacturer approved by the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM). Orkid also takes pride in not using any animal by-products and testing only on its own team!
The lipsticks are non-sticky, glide on smoothly and are non-transferable, given that you don’t stuff your face with greasy fries… although I can’t guarantee that that would not happen even to myself.
The Orkid collection can be bought here.
WUNDERBATH (VEGAN, CRUELTY-FREE)
A proudly vegan company that says no to toxic chemicals and animal testing, Wunderbath was founded by food scientist (really!) Evelyn Marietta. She was having difficulty finding a lipbalm that was tinted, vegan and naturally derived, so she decided to take matters into her own hands and created them herself.
Aside from the tinted balms, the brand carries clear-coloured balms with truly Malaysian flavours like Ais Kacang, Teh Tarik and Musang King!
Wunderbath’s other niche is a combination of Evelyn’s professional specialties: handmade soaps in the shape of realistic-looking local foods like pau, kuih muih, curry puffs and mooncakes.
BREENA BEAUTY (VEGAN, CRUELTY-FREE)
Started by beauty blogger Sabrina Tajudin and her husband Tawfiq, Breena Beauty was born out of a desire to introduce high-quality makeup brushes that were not made of animal hair, cruelty-free and affordable for the Malaysian makeup enthusiast. Sabrina’s love for art shines through her brand – she sketched the design of the brushes by hand.
The company is also known for its Blending Pearl makeup sponges and, to dress up your lips, their non-drying budge-proof Velvet Creme Matte Liquid Lipsticks, which are so much in demand that they need constant re-stocking.
Browse Breena Beauty’s range of products online here. They also do Worldwide Shipping.