What Kat Von D's All-vegan Pledge Means for the Makeup World

Upping the ante on her already cruelty-free and largely vegan makeup line, Kat Von D announced this week that she’ll be reformulating her entire product collection to be fully free of animal products.

“It wasn’t until last year that I was like, ‘What the f*** am I waiting for?’” the tattoo artist, reality-TV celeb, and cosmetics entrepreneur told the vegan magazine Laika of her decision. “I have a platform, and this, to me, is the No. 1 most important issue on this planet.”

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Von D, an ethical vegan who eschews animal products from dairy to leather, has been promoting her makeup brand for Sephora ever since the retailer approached her about her own line in 2008. It grew quickly from a few red lipsticks to a full and hugely popular collection in which nothing is tested on animals and the majority of items are already vegan — with the exception of those containing beeswax or carmine, a coloring agent made from insects native to Mexico and South America.

“We have been reformulating anything that had carmine in the past, and if we can’t reformulate, we just throw them out,” she told the magazine. “I can live without a purple eye shadow — it’s fine.”

Von D added that she has learned a lot during her eight years in the business. “When I launched [the line,] I was not sober; I was not vegan yet. So I had no idea about ingredients in formulation,” she said. “I would always think it was funny when brands would be like, ‘Oh, we’re vegan.’ Yeah, well, you don’t eat lipstick. [I was] super ignorant, you know?”

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The announcement follows the recent release of Von D’s Egyptian-themed Serpentina palette, which is vegan, as well as a collection of animal-free makeup brushes. And when her reformulated collection is released, it may very well be the biggest all-vegan makeup line in existence (since even companies such as Juice Beauty and 100% Pure, which are nearly animal-free, use honey and beeswax).

The move thrills vegan activists, including Jasmin Singer, author of the memoir, Always Too Much and Never Enough, and co-host of the Our Hen House podcast. “Caring about animals does not mean sacrificing beauty — in fact, making the ethically sound, environmentally aware, truly compassionate decision to ditch both animal testing and animal ingredients amplifies beauty,” Singer tells Yahoo Beauty. “Kat Von D Beauty going vegan represents the next trend in cosmetics — no more torturing animals, whether for unnecessary testing or by using the byproducts of factory farming as ingredients.”

Singer adds that animal testing for cosmetics is a “no-brainer” and is already illegal in the E.U. “And, let’s face it,” she says, “as Kat Von D has realized, it’s just as important to get rid of animal ingredients. If it’s not vegan, it’s not cruelty-free.”

So what, you may ask, are the animal-derived additives most commonly used in cosmetics? Here are seven, just for starters:

Beeswax Obtained from melted honeycombs, this ingredient is commonly found in lip gloss, mascara, concealer, and lotions (and, currently, some of Von D’s liquid lipstick). Unless it’s ethically sourced from small beekeepers, the byproduct comes from large commercial beekeepers who use methods that some say amount to treating the insects like “livestock,” even replacing their harvested honey (which is their food) with sugar water.

Carmine/Cochineal Made by drying and crushing female cochineal insects, which live on cacti in South America and Mexico, this natural red dye is often found in mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, and lipstick.

Collagen While plant-derived alternatives include soy protein and almond oil, this stuff comes from the fibrous protein of animal tissue and can be found in facial serum, mascara, lip-plumping colors, and moisturizers.

Gelatin This is the hydrolyzed collagen of connective tissue, and it comes from boiling the skin, tendons, bones, and ligaments of cows and pigs. It’s commonly found in nail-polish remover, tinted moisturizer, and styling gel (and is the reason, by the way, that vegans don’t eat marshmallows).

Guanine Frequently sourced from the iridescent scales of fish, this is mostly used as an additive in nail enamels.

Lanolin This moisturizing ingredient, extracted from the oil glands of sheep, is commonly found in lip balm, lip gloss, and concealer.

Squalene Used as an emollient in serum, moisturizer, lipstick, and lip balms, squalene is derived from shark liver oil — and its use in these products, according to one study, is responsible for the killing of more than three million sharks a year. And they’re already endangered.

As for Von D having concerns that going all-vegan will impact sales, don’t give it another thought: She said she once turned down an opportunity to mass produce her line in China because the country requires animal testing, noting, “The numbers are huge, but is it worth it? No. F*** no! If anything, the punk rocker in me gets more excited to be against it.”

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