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What Does Vegan Skincare Really Mean? A Simple Guide.

Are you doing Veganuary and looking for new swaps, already plant-based or simply looking to avoid animal by-products in your skincare?  Understanding what is in your products can be a minefield, so if you've ever wondered 'what does vegan skincare really mean?' or 'how can I tell if this skincare is vegan', I've compiled this blog with key facts to help guide you.

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Reset Cleansing Balm Photo: @Wonderlustinglynda

Vegan products, whether food, skincare, clothing etc. are becoming increasingly popular, fuelled by a rise in veganism, and a desire for healthier and more eco-conscious lifestyles. 

What is vegan skincare?

Vegan skincare products do not contain animal-derived ingredients in the formulation. They do contain ingredients derived from plants.  Plant oils and extracts are bursting with essential nutrients, omegas, emollients and natural anti-oxidants which are fantastic for maintaining a healthy skin barrier whatever your age.  Just because a product is vegan doesn't mean it's ineffective, quite the opposite is true as long as a formula has been well designed and formulated. 

At Pamoja, I believe there’s no place for animal by-products, there's just no need. As a formulator, there is a huge choice of incredible plant based ingredients that are highly effective, deliver results in your skin and feel beautiful.  I know it's an important issue for you, so I've done the research to find these vegan alternatives and incorporate them in every Pamoja formulation.  


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The Mini Experience Photo: @gentlyshaketheworld

What are the non vegan ingredients to avoid?

Did you know that many skincare products and cosmetics contain animal-derived ingredients? It's not always easy to spot them in a cosmetic as product labels are written in a format known as INCI; a standard format of Latin and chemical descriptions that can be confusing and hard to read. Some common animal-derived ingredients to look out for are:-   

Squalene - comes from shark's liver and can be found in lipsticks and eye makeup. Not the be confused with Squalane (a vegan alternative derived from olives).  

Carmine / Cochineal - a red colourant made from crushed beetles, sometimes used in nail products, and makeup.

Collagen – a protein from animal tissue used in many cosmetics for anti-ageing properties.

Lanolin - an extract made from sheep's wool, which can be found in products designed to moisturise dry skin and hair. 

Tallow – animal fat that comes from bones and is found in soap bars and many other cosmetics.

Gelatin - similar to tallow, this is found in animal bones, skin etc and is used in nail treatments.

Keratin - made from animal horns or hair and can be used in hair or nail products. 

Guarnine - a shimmering crystalline material made from fish scales, found in makeup.

Retinol - a popular anti-aging ingredient can be derived from animals. Plant based Retinol does exist so be sure to check labels carefully. 

Beeswax / Cera Alba - a waxy ingredient commonly found in lip balms and lipsticks. 

Honey – secreted from bees and found in creams, balms and face masks. 

Some brands will describe products containing beeswax and honey as vegan as they don’t come from the animal's body. Whilst some vegans are fine with this, others aren't and this can create added confusion for customers.   Here's a handy checklist to screenshot and save to your phone 👇🏽.

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Is vegan the same as cruelty-free?

Cruelty-free does not necessarily mean vegan, and vice versa!  

Vegan simply refers to the absence of animal ingredients in products. Cruelty-free means that a product hasn't been tested on animals. A vegan product might use ingredients tested on animals, and a cruelty-free product could include animal ingredients! Confusing, right?!

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Is Pamoja a vegan skincare brand?

Yes! Pamoja products are 100% vegan and do not contain animal-derived ingredients.  

All Pamoja ingredients are completely plant-derived, and bursting with natural goodness to literally feed your skin with natural antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy omega fats.  You'll find Arctic Blackcurrant extract, upcycled Red Raspberry Seed Oil and nourishing Mango Butter to name a few.  These ingredients are fantastic for supporting a healthy skin barrier and are especially nourishing for dry, dehydrated, mature and sensitive skin types.  Read on to delve a little deeper.

What are vegan ingredients in Pamoja Skincare?

You'll find carefully sourced vegan alternatives to common animal by-products here at Pamoja, for example:-

  • Squalane derived from olives brings soothing, hydrating properties to Restore Radiance Booster Oil
  • Glycerin, a humectant (moisturiser) found in Revive Multi-action Face Cream, is derived from rapeseed oil.  
  • Lactic acid, works as an effective pH balancer in Replenish Hydrating Serum and Revive Multi-action Face Cream and is often milk-derived, however, I have sourced a non-dairy version derived from non GMO maize.  This keeps your face cream at a skin friendly pH of 5.4.
  • Ectoin Natural, is a multi-functional active discovered in 1985 as the self defence and survival substance of microorganisms living in a salt lake in Egypt. The active ingredient is sustainably produced and provides long lasting hydration, reduces redness and provides protection from pollution.  Find it in Replenish Hydrating Serum and Revive Multi-action Face Cream
  • 100% natural preservatives including a sustainably sourced antimicrobial made from corn cobs and sugarcane, providing a renewable alternative to petro-sourced preservatives found in many cosmetics.
  • Hyaluronic acid can be animal derived, though I have sourced a vegan version derived from the bacterial fermentation of yeast, and glucose derived from beans and potatoes. This is also found in Replenish Hydrating Serum and Revive Multi-action Face Cream and is a hydration magnet for skin that feels plump, hydrated and glowing!

To put your mind at ease, Pamoja is also a cruelty-free brand, approved by Leaping Bunny - the globally recognised gold standard. 

This means that both products and ingredients, are not tested on animals.  Watch this space for news on vegan certification too!

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this helpful!

Fancy treating yourself to some vegan skincare? Shop the blog and try my starter set or if you'd like to go all in, save £20 on the full sized bundle and get free UK shipping too!




Copyright: Sarah Taylor, trained skincare formulator and founder of Pamoja.
3rd January 2021

 is a high performing natural skincare brand, designed to help you nourish your skin and nurture yourself. Now with over 350+ five star reviews. As seen in Vogue, Stylist, Woman's Health, Health and Wellbeing Magazine, Natural Health Magazine, Top Sante and more.


** Disclaimer - The content of this blog is for your general information only and is not designed to diagnose or cure health issues. The recommendations in this blog are based on my research and experience as a trained skincare formulator and 40+ woman. If you have a particular skin condition such as Acne or Eczema I advise you to consult a doctor or health care professional.   


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1 comment

  • Julia James on

    Fantastic blog Sarah thank you. It’s really helpful to find a guide to ingredients and the vegan alternatives out there… I have become an expert on reading labels and small print but I still get caught out from time to time! I have been using your fabulous products for a couple of years and they have worked wonders for my skin. I became vegan last January and was delighted that I didn’t have to look elsewhere for my skincare. It is a bit of a minefield trying to find products that are vegan, cruelty-free, eco-friendly and sustainable and it’s rare to find products that tick all the boxes so well done. Your awards are hard-earned and well-deserved. Keep up the amazing work! :)

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