Anyone who has tried to eat vegan in a restaurant knows how underwhelming the options can be. We can’t count the number of menus that contain one afterthought of an option, adorned with a lone little “V.”(Hey, restaurants of America: Just because you slice a cauliflower into a thick slab does not make it a “steak.” What’s more, vegans aren’t really looking for a steak-like replacement. OK. Rant over.) But for a long time, the world of beauty offered the much of the same: Sure, you could find the occasional lotion or lip balm that was made without animal ingredients, but for the most part, it was slim pickings out there.
That was then. Now, fancy skin-care lines and Target staples alike offer plenty to choose from for vegans (and those who just want to treat skin sans animal byproducts). Included are brands you’d never think were on board and indie lines so beautifully packaged, they scream “luxury,” not “granola.”
While it may seem like vegan beauty has never been more popular, holistic esthetician Tammy Fender notes that plant-based remedies have always been a staple: “If you think about it, throughout history the plant kingdom has provided some of our most potent medicines, from penicillin to aspirin, which was first isolated from the bark of the willow tree,” she says. Though Fender admits that the demand for vegan beauty products does seem to be at an all-time high. And Google has the data to back it up: Since 2000, searches for vegan skin care have grown by 83% year over year in the U.S., according to research by the all-knowing search giant. Jessica Wu, MD, dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face can understand why. “More of my patients are looking for vegan skin care because they've made a conscious choice to avoid animal products in all aspects of their lives, including their diet, clothing, and now beauty products,” she says. “For many, it's no longer enough for products to be cruelty-free.”
Whether you're committed to a lifestyle that keeps animal byproducts out of your body and off of your skin, or just want in on some of the most inventive formulas that beauty has to offer, you’ll find plenty of options that are major upgrades from the few choices found in the crusty health food stores of yore. Some use their vegan status to make a statement on the packaging; others might completely surprise you. And all will help you go into beauty beast mode — without any animal influence. Find some our favorites, ahead.