February 22, 2022

Sourcing Vegan Alternatives for Your Beauty Brand

Kimberly Shenk
Policies & Claims

Plant-based consumerism will expand in the coming years.

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in purchasing practices that avoid animal exploitation. Veganism isn’t popular in just the food market, either. Goods from all sorts of industries are getting veganized— including clothing, daily use items, and of course, beauty and cosmetic products.

In fact, concern for animal welfare has the potential to steer businesses to change their product formulations and sustainability messaging, which can increase consumer access and diversify consumer bases. 

Stay on top of consumer demand and sustainability practices with this guide to get the vegan seal of approval. We’ll offer a thorough breakdown of veganism, achieving vegan certification, and how Novi can help you create vegan product formulations!

First, what does it mean to be vegan?

Veganism refers to the practice of avoiding consumerism that permits animal exploitation. The term is mostly used to describe people’s dietary habits, but it is also applied to general consumerist practices.

What does it not mean?

While veganism requires exclusively plant-based consumption, plant-based consumerism is not the same as vegan consumerism. “Plant-based” simply describes products with no animal products or byproducts. “Veganism” encompasses a broader definition of abstaining from animal exploitation.

Thus, plant-based ingredients aren't always vegan. They may be tested on animals, or be manufactured through the usage of animal-derived ingredients. For example, although sugar is inherently plant-based, much of it is bleached through bone char, an animal-based ingredient. Thus, such ingredients aren’t always cruelty-free.

Popular animal-derived ingredients and their vegan alternatives

Some of the most popular ingredients used across a variety of product formulations are animal-based. However, these ingredients also have vegan alternatives that are well-utilized by formulators and manufacturers.

Carmine: This red pigment is made from crushed beetles. It is commonly used in liquid food coloring and other red-dyed products (like lipstick). Common vegan alternatives to this ingredient include beetroot powder, beetroot extracts, hibiscus extracts, mica powders, and much more.

Lanolin: Made from sheep’s wool, lanolin is a waxy, emollient substance often used for skincare formulations. Vegan alternatives include shea butter, rice bran oil, mineral oil, and much more.

Squalene: Squalene is often sourced from shark liver. It’s one of many natural lipids found in the human body, which contributes to its popularity as a skincare ingredient. But synthetic or plant-based squalane offers the same benefits and is actually more commonly used due to its comparably stable shelf life.

Gelatin: Derived from animal collagen, gelatin is popular because of its stabilizing properties and its jiggly texture. Common vegan alternatives include agar and carrageenan.

These ingredients are only a few out of many that are animal-derived. Keep in mind that some ingredients may come from animals or plants, such as biotin, retinoids, and more.

Additionally, it’s unlikely that such ingredients will be listed with a specification of whether they originated from plants or animals. Check in with suppliers/manufacturers to double-check these ingredients’ plant-based status.

Vegan certification

Making your products vegan and obtaining vegan certification are two different — though not entirely separate — matters. While veganizing your products is crucial for vegan certification, you may only obtain certification from third-party organizations.

Brands can assure consumers that their products are vegan with a self-made logo or statement, but most consumers find third-party verification more reliable. This way, they know that a brand and its products have objectively met the standards of an unbiased entity.

PETA Certification

Companies can apply for either one of PETA’s two certifications — one designated for only cruelty-free status, and the other for vegan status. Once again, veganism necessitates cruelty-free practices, which makes the latter more of an all-in-one certification than the former. Companies must sign PETA's statement of assurance to obtain approval.


Vegan.org offers vegan certification to companies that do not use animal-based ingredients in their products’ formulation or manufacturing process. Their ingredients should also be cruelty-free. Brands can provide third-party supplier verification to prove that they meet all of these requirements.

Vegan standards on Novi

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante via Unsplash

Novi’s ingredient database allows brands to veganize their products and achieve vegan certification more easily. Users can filter ingredients by various vegan policies, including the aforementioned vegan certifications offered by PETA and Vegan.org.

These filters make it easier to source already-vetted ingredients. Businesses that are specifically seeking certification from PETA or Vegan.org can also expedite the process by sourcing ingredients approved by these organizations beforehand.

The Novi marketplace offers a variety of animal welfare standards that users can select to filter materials, several of which are unique to the Novi platform! One such example is “Free of Animal/Animal-By-Product Derived Ingredients”, which surfaces ingredients that are not at risk of being animal-derived. Similarly, the “Vegan-Suitable” standard surfaces ingredients that are both not at risk of being animal-derived, as well as not tested on animals (cruelty-free).

Vegan Suitable on Novi

Novi’s “Vegan Suitable” standard does not provide vegan certification to businesses. However, ingredients must still abide by strict standards to meet this standard, which requires an origins statement, an animal content-free statement, and several other pieces of documentation. Official documentation evidencing PETA/Vegan.org certification also qualifies as meeting this policy.

Let Novi help you veganize your products!

Making your brand vegan-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult. Though traditional manufacturing processes have often neglected vegan demand, recent innovations and consumer insistence have broadened vegan options. Now all you have to do is catch up with your direct competitors, many of which are bound to notice vegan consumption being brought to the forefront.

That’s where Novi comes in. With Novi's prolific ingredient database, businesses of any size have easy access to vegan ingredients. We’ll make the journey towards vegan formulation and branding a lot simpler!

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Richard Goodfrey
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Richard Goodfrey
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Richard Goodfrey
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Richard Goodfrey
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Richard Goodfrey
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Richard Goodfrey
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