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Q: In Skincare, What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

By Mercedes Taylor

With a love for cosmetics from a young age, my curiosity knew that there was much more to the goop inside the jar than meets the eye. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Analytical Chemistry and moved to California to chase my dreams of becoming a cosmetic chemist, passionate in developing results-driven skincare. Now, I am the Product Innovation Manager for Youth to the People. My primary experience is in research and development, with a focus on both sustainability and the formulation of skincare, bringing natural ingredients to the forefront of the cosmetics market. I’m here to answer all your skincare questions.

Being a vegan skincare brand is incredibly important to the YTTP ethos of formulating. When a product is vegan, it means is that no animal byproducts were used in the making of that product. 

In the past, animal fats were commonly utilized to create the emollients used in skincare. (The process of soapmaking used to combine animal fatty acids and lye.) Because of advances in science, today, we can use plant-based emollients, like sunflower seed oil and glycerin, not only  to create soap, but also lotions, facial creams, and cleansers. 

Today, animal byproducts are still used in some skincare (not ours!) but aren’t as obvious as you might imagine. For instance, collagen: the amino acid chains in collagen are only found in animals, and not plants. Today, most amino acids can be synthetically produced, but certain amino acids, particularly those that make up collagen, are still only produced from animals. 

Honey and beeswax are also non-vegan ingredients because they are produced from bees. Typically bees are not harmed in the harvesting of honey and beeswax, but because it is still produced from bees, it cannot be certified vegan. Veganism is more than just about your skincare. It is also a lifestyle, which is why formulating without animal ingredients is important to us. 

Now being a cruelty-free brand—which is also incredibly important to the YTTP ethos—might sound like it is in line with being vegan—but what it means differs from simply not using animal products in formulations. As a cruelty-free company, we do not test any part of our products on animals—meaning both final formula as well as individual ingredients—and ensure that animals were not used in the processes of making the product. We do not work with affiliates who allow testing on animals. As a team, Youth To The People does our due diligence to ensure that we remain cruelty-free. We audit, hold our partners accountable, and do our research on ingredients to make sure we are also holding ourselves accountable to this standard. 

Conscious formulating is key for me as a chemist and formulator, and also helps to bring on new innovations in cosmetics. Making sure that animals are in no part of our formulation process at YTTP is incredibly important to our lifestyle and ethos as a whole. Animals are not ingredients!