Ingredients sourced from animal parts
This category compiles ingredients in cosmetics that may not be vegan; the ingredients could contain biological parts from animals. It does not handle whether a product has been tested on animals. The EU has a ban both on testing cosmetics on animals as well as selling cosmetics if any part of it has been tested on animals.
Animal-derived ingredients can be sourced from all type of animals; fishes, cattle, pigs, birds, and even humans. It is most often proteins, fats, oils, or glands that are extracted from the animals and used in cosmetics, for example, to strengthen and condition hair and body.
The main concern regarding all animal-derived ingredients are the ethical considerations. Which can be read out in one of the most common stamps found on vegan and plant-based products, namely Cruelty Free. (Read more about Cruelty Free International here) Critics of animal-derived ingredients argue that it is not ethical and morally right to breed and slaughter living beings at will, especially if the sole purpose is our vanity.
Animal, plant, or synthetic origin
Knowing for sure which substances that are derived from animals can be tricky. If a product claims to contain “natural sources” it could indicate that the ingredients are of animal origin as animals are considered natural, unlike synthetic manufactured ingredients. But natural can also refer to that the ingredients are plant-based.
Unfortunately for anyone who wishes to avoid animal ingredients; substances can be named the same no matter how they have been “put together”. The ingredients are often ambiguous as they could be sourced from animal, vegetable or even synthetic sources – yet have the same name and function. One example is vitamin A/retinol that according to PETA “Can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk, butter, lemongrass, wheat germ oil, carotene in carrots, and synthetics.”
Curious Chloride’s scanner will highlight all substances that may be derived from animals yellow. However, if the ingredient also has other negative effects it may be highlighted red. Hover over a highlighted ingredient to get the details.
Although it is illegal to sell cosmetics containing human biological elements within the European Union it is legal in other countries. In Canada, for example, human-derived ingredients in cosmetics are legal but imposed with special restrictions, such as mandatory transparency of the substance’s origin and method of production.
Without restrictions and the demand for full transparency and traceability of the sources of human-derived ingredients, it is impossible to ensure that consent was given. Take for example products containing human placenta (Read more about placenta here). While some companies reportedly say that they get the placenta from maternity wards in Russia, others are not disclosing their sources. There are also cases where mothers believed to have given consent for their placenta to be used in medical research, later have felt violated when they found out it instead was used for cosmetic research. Although human biological parts in cosmetics are proportionally rare, the ethical considerations come to a head in those cases. The ethical considerations involved are in some regards similar to those that have to be weighed in when using cosmetics containing ingredients derived from (other) animals.