The Cost and Benefits of Natural Cosmetics

Story by Sarah Wright, Art by Megan Moomey

Cosmetics products are a consistently high selling market that many consumers probably couldn’t live without. With a variety of natural products in addition to standard products, the question comes down to how do products these products compare for the consumers in terms of quality, cost and how they’re created?

Natural products refer to vegan and cruelty free cosmetics. Cruelty free means beauty products that aren’t tested on animals and vegan means beauty products without any thing made of or by animals. Both can be found together in brands that offer the natural options, but sometimes brands will have one or the other.

If it’s unclear whether a brand is cruelty free or not, most brands will have a symbol on the back of their packaging to indicate that the product is indeed not tested on animals.

“Look for the leaping bunny on the back of makeup products. It means it was made cruelty free,” Central Michigan University student Jasmine Castillo said.

In terms of telling whether a product is vegan or not, the leaping bunny logo usually means a product is cruelty free, since cruelty free and vegan don’t always go hand-in-hand. It also helps to look for specific ingredients like honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, and generally anything that can come from animals on the back of products.

Health enthusiasts like DeChantell “De” Lloyd(creator of the wellness site and vegan make up specialist Christine Heggestad have found that the benefits of using vegan products include safer ingredients that can be essential to for those with skin conditions like celiac disease due to the fact vegan make up can also mean gluten-free as well. Vegan makeup can also allow the skin to look noticeably healthier due the natural and nutrient-rich nature of the products.

“I believe vegan and cruelty free products have a ‘freshness’ about them. I feel great when I’m using them both morally and physically,” CMU student Jade Marfia said. “I have many friends who have subscribed to the vegan life and they’re in love with it. Their skin seems to glow, and their hair looks so healthy!”

Many brands with vegan and cruelty free products have used recyclable packaging and don’t test on animals. As shown by the Green Garage, animal testing can cause injuries or death to animals as animals being tested can be subjected to inhumane treatment during the tests and suffer poisoning. The tests also cost money to provide the needs for the animals as well as the accumulation of expenses as these tests are taken over several months. Also, according the Humane Society of the United States, the results can be unreliable and difficult to interpret depending on how they test on the animals.

Interestingly, as covered by Glamour, California passed a bill to make the sale of animal tested products illegal in the state after 2020. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Actwas introduced in February and is the first time a state has done something about the issue.

As provided by PETA, some of the listed cosmetic products include Clinique, Mary Kay, Maybelline New York and Avon among several other brands while vegan and cruelty free products include Milani, Too Faced, Tarte, Jeffree Starr Cosmetics and Wet n Wild among many other brands.

“I’m currently switching to vegan beauty products. So far, I use the Tarte Amazonian clay foundation and setting powder and I love both of them! They’re a little more expensive, like most vegan beauty products, but they still have a high performance,” CMU student Katie Haas said. “As for toiletries, I love the brand Love, Beauty, and Planet that is sold at Target and drug stores— it’s very accessible and has a wide array of products.”

Contrasting from the benefits of cruelty free and vegan cosmetics, a concern is that the products can be more expensive than the alternative products. The reason for the high price can usually depend on the makeup brand and the company distributing the brand. This could be due to the cost of manufacturing the cosmetic products.

“I wish vegan and cruelty free products were more affordable. As a college student, I don’t have the money to be investing into my health and food,” Marfia said.

Another issue can be that some vegan and cruelty free products don’t perform as well as the standard product in terms of durability.

“As of now, I prefer standard products rather than vegan or cruelty free. I’ve only found a couple of vegan products that I know I will repurchase, which is difficult,” Haas said. “I believe that vegan products overall are healthier. I feel like they have less chemicals and aren’t as damaging on my skin and hair. However, at the same time, I feel that a majority of them just don’t perform as well.”

Vegan and cruelty free products come with a lot of benefits that can be morally and physically appealing to consumers but does comes with some concerns about how long they can last and how much they cost. Ultimately, the choice between vegan and cruelty free brands versus standard brands comes down to quality of the product cosmetic company’s put out and what the consumers want from their product.