Vegan is the way

What if skincare could be chemical- and cruelty-free? Pooja Prabbhan gets the beauty experts talking about vegan skincare and its many benefits...

For those of us living in India, most of our home beauty remedies have been vegan in nature since the beginning of time.

Here’s a tale that’s as old as time: if one eats well, sleeps well and lives well, it pretty much shows on the skin. While granny secrets and DIYs may have proven their finesse, the millennials today (and also those way past the age) are on the lookout for ‘more’— that ‘extra’ factor, which supersedes the usual. Thus comes vegan beauty care into the picture.

While several assume the concept to be elitist of sorts, the myth is fast changing. If you’ve been under a similar impression, you couldn’t be further away from the truth. Simply put, vegan beauty entails doing away with animal products and preservatives altogether. Most of the treatments and products are also cruelty-free, which means there is no animal testing involved in their manufacture. As far as procedures are concerned, the common peels used by the dermatologist are vegan and plant-based, too. Let’s explore the arena of vegan beauty care and everything in between!

Home remedies

“For those of us living in India, most of our home beauty remedies have been vegan in nature since the beginning of time… now the rest of the world is, too. It’s a great trend that has hit the market as it pushes homegrown products and gives hope to newer businesses that carry the ethos of veganism,” begins Maude Abraham, beauty entrepreneur and founder, GetGorgeous Beauty Bar.

She further adds, “However, vegan products can be difficult to buy at affordable prices and not all brands carry 100% vegan products. As of now, vegan pedicures and body scrubs are mostly in demand in the metro cities. And, the suitability depends on what the product is made of. There is a wide range of products available.”

Simple, non-chemical and non-animal product-based beauty is a possibility, thus offering ample scope for a cruelty-free beauty renaissance, believes Dr Anil Abraham, former professor and head, dermatology, St Johns Medical College Hospital. “Injections like fillers were earlier animal-based like bovine collagen or animal-derived hyaluronic acid. Some fillers are great for vegans. There are now cosmetic dermal fillers made of non-animal-based hyaluronic acid, which is good news for any vegetarian or animal activist who cares about their appearance but does not want to participate in a treatment that has been involved with the suffering of animals,” he says, adding, “the hyaluronic acid used in Restylane is a crystal-clear gel called NASHA – or Non-Animal Stabilized Hyaluronic Acid. NASHA is as natural as it gets: it is biodegradable and fully biocompatible with human hyaluronic acid.”

Treatments galore

While beauty treatments are largely intensive and result-oriented, they needn’t be heavy on your pocket, believes Bhavya Chawla, chief stylist, Voonik.com. “At the moment, the costing suits a niche market, but is yet not exorbitant. With greater discretionary incomes and awareness, a small section of millennials and working adults are willing to invest in vegan treatments. The four most popular treatments in India currently are vegan hair colouring, vegan hair smoothening, vegan facial and vegan body scrubs.”

An average treatment cost would be between Rs 700 (manicure) to Rs 7,000 (for a spa). “Regular treatments such as skin lightening costs between Rs 2,500- 5,000, and an average hair spa would cost around Rs 2,500. The pricing can be higher for high-end treatments which depend entirely on the treatment centre,” maintains Bhavya.

A lot of people think that if a brand is ‘vegan’ and/or ‘cruelty-free’, then it is also automatically organic and natural. Quashing the popular belief, Sunila Johnson, partner, Wink Salon and Spa, adds, “This is not true. It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about beauty products. Not all cruelty-free and vegan make-up and skincare products are natural, clean and non-toxic. The company doesn’t test its end-products and ingredients on animals. Plus, it is required that their suppliers won’t test as well. Unfortunately, there are a lot of vegan brands that are using synthetic dyes, fragrances and nano-sized oxides which are bad for health.”

For those on the lookout for injectable treatments and lasers, vegan beauty treatments are the best bet. “Lasers are considered an excellent vegan-friendly alternative to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, encouraging collagen regeneration,” avers Dr Anil Abraham. He also adds, “If a patient is really keen to have an injectable treatment, I’d recommend mesotherapy, a series of superficial injections to the middle layer of the skin that administers a tailor-made nourishing cocktail to rejuvenate the complexion. The ingredients injected are antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins, which are already present within the body. However, Bhavya warns, “Vegans should do their research for any injectable treatment, as even if they don’t contain animal products, they may be tested on animals.”

All said and done, vegan skincare is definitely making waves in the beauty industry.

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