Vegan hair care- what’s it all about?

t’s 2018 (nearly 2019)- obviously by now we are all familiar with the vegan diet. In case you want the word-for-word definition, a vegan diet abstains from all animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, gelatine, and honey. However, many vegans aim to abstain from the use of animal products in general, and similarly, they may look for products that haven’t been tested on animals during production. That’s where vegan hair care comes in.

So, what makes hair care non-vegan? Certain hair products contain ingredients that aren’t vegan friendly, so it’s all about checking the label. Non-vegan ingredients include:

·         Biotin-used as a texturizer in hair creams and conditioners and found in all living cells,

·         Cetyl Alcohol- found in the spermaceti (head cavity) of whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans

·         Gelatine

·         Keratin- found in animal hooves, feathers, horns, and hair

·         Hyaluronic Acid- derived from the synovial fluid surrounding the joints of animals.

Didn’t have a clue what these ingredients actually were? Don’t be ashamed- most people don’t. But it’s certainly interesting information to know. The most logical follow-up question has to be: Is it possible for a hair product not to contain these ingredients? Because, really, a brand wouldn’t include an ingredient if it wasn’t necessary or effective in some way, right?

The answer is yes to both. These ingredients are all effective in a hair product; they aren’t just included for the fun of it. But, also, it is possible to create a hair product without these ingredients. There are alternatives to everything these days, and hair product ingredients are no exception.  

There are a multitude of plant-derived ingredients and herbs that can serve the same purpose, and many brands are jumping to test these out for their own products, realising that demand for vegan products is on the rise. L’Oréal Professionnel, for instance, launched a vegan, plant-based line called Source Essentielle this year, created using 80 to 99 per cent natural origin ingredients. So it’s not just the smaller brands that are branching out in terms of production.

With options now widely available, it is fairly easy to find vegan hair care products in high street stores such as Boots and Superdrug. Because of the appeal of vegan products, chances are it will be somewhere on the packaging if the product you’re looking at is vegan. The same goes for animal testing- if a product doesn’t test on animals, it should make that fairly clear somewhere on the bottle- look out for the cruelty-free bunny logo if you’re unsure.

This leads us to the ultimate question: should you use vegan hair care? The answer is, of course: it’s up to you. Just like with a vegan diet, if it your decision whether you use shampoos, conditioners, sprays, masks and the like, that contain non-vegan ingredients. However, something to bear in mind is that vegan hair products tend to contain ingredients that are sourced more considerably in general, which often means that they are better, and more natural, for your hair anyway. In terms of effectiveness, there is no difference between vegan and non-vegan hair care, so your decision should be based on personal preference only.

Laura Shallcross