When World Vegan Day reared its head a few months ago, I set myself a challenge: To go completely vegan with my beauty routine (sorry, I love cheese too much to overhaul my diet) for a week. I had an inkling it would be hard. Let's face it: I've somehow managed to make a career out of trying beauty products and have grown dependent on the formulas I know and love.
I had visions of having to completely swipe everything from my dressing table and start from the ground up, replacing all my favourite products with "lesser" vegan alternatives. I was scared that my curls wouldn't cope with a new shampoo and had basically written off my chances of ever being able to buff together my signature copper-toned eye—vegan makeup just doesn't have the same pigment payoff, right?
Wrong. As you'll find out, should you read the diary of my week as a beauty vegan, I was hugely mistaken. As it turns out, while I wasn't paying full attention, the vegan beauty world grew massively. Not only are there now a host of cool—yes, cool!—new vegan brands, but what also surprised me was that a lot of the products that had already won my heart and a place in my tight-knit regimen were closet vegans.
Even more surprising still is that nothing sucked. There are actually so many vegan beauty brands and products out there that are just as good as their non-vegan counterparts. It's safe to say that it's never been easier to be vegan in the beauty world.
If you're embarking on Veganuary, are already vegan, or want to make a few swaps, I've compiled a list of the best vegan beauty brands that you probably didn't even realise were vegan. I wonder if you'll be as surprised as I was.
Hourglass is up there as one of my favourite all-time makeup lines, so it's a massive plus that all its products are vegan too. This highlighter palette is divine: Swipe it all over the face for a soft glow.
I've worked my way through tubes and tubes of this stuff already. It's great for rough elbows, smoothing down feral brow hairs and even taming flyaways. And when my skin gets really stressed out, I use it as a face mask too.
If you, like me, had preconceptions that vegan makeup brands don't have the capacity to create punchy, high pigment products, you obviously have yet to try Bleach London. You'd struggle to find eye shadows that show up as vibrant as these little pans, and we love the brand's hair range too.
Kat Von D's beauty line has gained cult status worldwide, not only because it offers incredible formulas and finishes, but because it's totally vegan too. If you like long-wear foundations, you'll be pretty pleased with the longevity of this one.
After a late night, this cooling eye gel is a godsend for tired eyes, especially if you keep it in the fridge.
I sought solace in Maria Nila's efficacious shampoos and conditioners throughout my experiment, and have since come to realise that this is the best shampoo if your hair tends to go quite stiff and strawlike.
Vegan nail polishes are few and far between, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nailberry's are. The brand offers the widest range of colours that you'd actually want to wear and the formula comes without formaldehyde, toluene, DBP and camphor.
Pai funnels only the purest natural ingredients into its skincare formulas, which makes this face oil an ethical but particularly decadent treat for the skin. Massage in and go over with a jade roller for maximum absorption.
This drugstore brand offers high-performance bodycare products at affordable prices. Its body wash is like a silky milk and omits the need to hop around the bathroom applying greasy lotion post-shower.
Lime Crime is known for its punchy pigments and holographic finishes and is surprisingly 100% vegan. This fiery metallic lip gloss looks pretty cool over the eyelids, too.
Orveda is a luxury skincare brand creating highly potent and science-led skincare products that have a green edge—plus, they're all vegan. This mud is a bit like an exfoliating powder, which lifts away makeup, pollution and sebum.
Healgel's products are designed by plastic surgeons and have one key aim: to soothe, repair and regenerate skin that has undergone some kind of trauma. So whether you've been caught in the sun, have experienced a strange reaction or simply burnt your cheek on your hair tong, make this intensive balm your best friend.
It's crazy to think there's no beeswax in Axiology's lipsticks, as they're buttery and swipe on like a dream.
A fairly new skincare brand, Previse has been developed by dermatologists and offers products that won't aggravate sensitive or allergy-prone skin. I'm personally obsessed with this fluffy moisturiser foam—it feels like the bubbles from a bathtub but is seriously hydrating.
Proving, yet again, that there is a luxe end to the vegan market is Rahua, the high-end haircare range made with an Amazonian nut oil. You won't find a shampoo that imparts more of a shine than this one here, and these drops are great for smoothing down flyaways or rebooting split ends.