Why vegan is important for your skin - even if you're not vegan|
What Is Vegan Skincare?
To be clear, a label that says "vegan" does not necessarily mean "cruelty-free." Vegan strictly means that nothing in that tube, jar, or bottle is made from an animal byproduct. At the very least, you know that your money is not contributing to certain cruel practices involved in raising farm animals, harvesting things they naturally make for themselves (like beeswax), or hunting and fishing.
Some vegan products might still be tested on animals, though, particularly if their manufacturer plans to sell them in China, where animal testing is required by law for imported cosmetics. Another potential problem comes when products are made from palm oil. This product (which may be listed as PKO, palmitate, palmate, palm kernel stearin, or other variations) often contributes to deforestation, endangering the habitats of species such as orangutans, and contributing to climate change. Some companies that haven't yet found substitutes for this inexpensive oil have made commitments to finding conflict-free, sustainable sources of palm oil.
The bottom line: If your concern as a vegan or vegan-adjacent consumer is to avoid harming animals, look for products that say they're both vegan and cruelty-free. (On a side note, the label "certified organic" doesn't indicate at all whether a product is vegan, cruelty-free... or effective, for that matter).
A Vegan Diet Could Do Wonders for Your Skin
One of the best ways for you to do this is to pay attention to what you eat—food can be the safest form of medicine or the slowest form of poison—and one of the best ways you can determine how your body reacts to your food choices is how your skin looks.
A vegan diet tends to be high in fiber and lower in saturated fat than the average American diet. This allows for improved function of insulin and glucagon production, which control your sugar metabolism, a suspected cause of acne. (Insulin imbalance affects your skin’s sebaceous glands, which can lead to clogged pores, causing acne).
Plant-based diets are high in fruits and vegetables, which in turn are rich in antioxidants.I tell my patients to eat a rainbow of naturally colorful plants, like fresh tomatoes, roasted sweet potato, yellow bell peppers, baby spinach, blueberries, and beets: The more variety of natural colors available, the better. That way, you’re getting a big array of a variety of protective antioxidants.
We all know that loading our plates up with fruits and vegetables is good for our insides. But a healthy diet rich in plant-based, whole foods can also benefit us on the outside. Cutting out processed meat, dairy, and embracing whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and berries could have some major skin benefits. But can a plant-based diet really transform our skin?
Dermatologist around the world thinks “If you want really good skin, or you want to help prevent yourself from getting some of the diseases that your family members might have, you really need to look into eating plant-based, whole foods.”
A vegan diet could also help people who suffer from eczema–a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, and cracked. According to Healthline, a handful have studies have shown that a raw, vegan diet, in particular, can be very beneficial, although there isn’t conclusive evidence.
Plant-based foods have also been linked with easing psoriasis, an immune-mediated disease. Similar to eczema, it causes raised red flaky patches to appear on the skin.
Eating a whole food plant-based diet can help psoriasis sufferers because it is naturally low in inflammatory foods, says dietician Deirdre Earls, RD, LD. She was once hospitalized with psoriasis as a child, but switching to a plant-based diet helped her manage the condition effectively.
She told Everyday Health, “I drastically changed my diet. I took all of the diet coke, all of the ultra-processed stuff out, and then I replaced it with simple, whole, mostly plant-based foods. Within six months, my skin had cleared.” She added, “psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, so anything you can do to cut down on inflammation should help.”
Reality TV personality and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian-West has suffered from psoriasis for more than a decade and was recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. She opened up on sister Kourtney Kardashian’s website Poosh about her battle with the disease, and how switching to a plant-based diet has helped her.
“I love a healthy life and try to eat as plant-based as possible and drink sea moss smoothies,” she said, adding that she also tries to keep her stress levels to a minimum. “I hope my story can help anyone else with an autoimmune disease feel confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Eating vegan foods can help with painful conditions, but they can also just make your skin glow too.
You Can Find Affordable Vegan Skincare for Every Skin Type
The increased demand for vegan beauty products of late has meant that there's a diverse array of options out there for everyone. (It also means you can buy cheap vegan skincare, thanks to the laws of supply and demand.)
Looking for a cleanser that won't irritate your sensitive skin? There are plant-derived ingredients that gently clean and exfoliate without disrupting the skin's natural barrier or setting off an allergic reaction.
Need a moisturizer that won't leave you with clogged pores and an acne breakout? A lotion with anti-inflammatory antioxidants from seed oils, plus some probiotics to balance out the skin's microbiome, is at the ready—no animal products necessary.
Turning your medicine cabinet vegan might just be one of many steps you take toward weaning yourself off of all animal products. Or choosing vegan cosmetics could be the only step you can see yourself taking right now. Either way, it's never been easier to make this switch, and it won't be a compromise but an improvement.