The Rise of Vegan Beauty

5 min

In recent years, a growing number of consumers are becoming more aware of the ethical and environmental impact of animal-based products, which has led to an increase in the number of people reducing their meat and animal by-product consumption. According to the Vegan Society, the number of people adopting a vegan lifestyle has increased by 350% in the UK alone, compared to a decade ago.

This has had an impact on purchase behaviour in the skincare and beauty market as consumers look to purchase products that are more aligned to their ethical views. Vegan beauty and skincare products are free from animal or animal-derived ingredients – including beeswax and carmine. In the UK, vegan beauty product sales increased by 38% in 2018 whilst Google searches for ‘vegan beauty’ are on an upward trend.

Superdrug has seen a 300% increase in the sales of vegan products since 2015 while reports a 56% increase in vegan related searches in 2019. This isn’t just a UK trend though as the global vegan cosmetics industry is forecast to register a CAGR 7.1% in the forecasted period 2018-2023. In a recent WWD article, Jenny Hsu – Chief Strategy Officer at HCT Group said: “We’ve been offering vegan formulas for years, but definitely [now] there are more brands asking for specifically vegan formulations — or they may not initially ask, but at some point in development they’re like, ‘Wait, hold on — is this vegan?’”

What does this market look like?

This rise in vegan beauty has led to a flourish of new innovative brands entering the market in the last few years, such as New York City-based brand Milk Makeup. Many well-established businesses are also finding inventive new ways of reformulating existing products as well as making new vegan-friendly product lines. A key player in the market is The Body Shop. The business sold over three million vegan products in 2018 with around half of its product range now being classified as vegan. The vegan market is also a focus for Lush with around 80% of its product range being vegan. Brands such as Superdrug’s B Beauty range, Original Source, and men’s skincare brand Bulldog are all completely vegan.

The growth in consumer demand for vegan products doesn’t appear to be a temporary trend. The industry is transforming much in the same way it did for the growing demand for products that haven’t been tested on animals. Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President of PETA, is quoted in a recent article by the New York Times as saying: “The future of the beauty industry is vegan and not animal-tested. Not every company has realised this yet, but a lot of them have, and those are the ones that are going to get ahead and stay in business. We’re in discussions with enough of them to know that this is, without question, the trend.”

The opportunity for businesses and candidates

As a headhunter that places senior-level candidates throughout Europe and the US, in the health and beauty markets, I can see how this change towards vegan products is positively impacting both candidates and businesses. As established businesses diversify product ranges or work to reformulate existing products, there is more opportunity for talented individuals to work for companies aligned to their views.

Businesses with vegan products are also finding it easier to attract those who are keen to work for a business that matches their ethical views. Innovation will be at the forefront of many businesses as they seek to capitalise on the demand for vegan beauty and skincare, and this can also be an attractive proposition for candidates looking to work for brands that are leaders in the field.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you are an established brand, are you adding vegan products to your ranges in line with consumer demand? If you work in the industry, do you value the opportunity to work with a brand aligned to your values? Let me know your thoughts by emailing



Research and Markets, Global Vegan Cosmetics Market - Segmented by Product Type, Distribution Channel, and Geography - Growth, Trends and Forecasts

Marketing Week, Vegan Beauty: How Conscious Consumers are Driving Innovation in Ethical Cosmetics

The Telegraph, The Ageless Guide to Vegan Beauty

The Body Shop, Vegan Beauty Category

The New York Times, Why you Should Care About Vegan Beauty

WWD, Vegan Makeup: The Latest Millennial Beauty Fixation