By Paul Lumley

Why Is Perfume Not Vegan?

Why is perfume not always vegan?

That’s an interesting question. You would imagine that a beauty product such as perfume would be made with natural, cruelty-free products. However this is not always the case, strangely enough.

Why is perfume not all vegan, you ask? Because most perfumes contain some sort of animal-derived ingredient and while they may not have necessarily been obtained through cruel means, their inclusion automatically voids the perfume of its vegan, animal-free status.

Animal testing is an enormous issue - choosing brands that do not test on animals in any way is much easier than it was in the past but doesn’t account for brands that utilise animal-derived products within their perfume.

Finding beauty products that are cruelty-free and vegan doesn’t have to be a chore anymore - however, this is a whole different scenario for vegan lovers of perfume.

You may find that if you look around a reputable designer department store that, while you’re overwhelmed with options in terms of makeup and skincare, finding a vegan perfume is harder than you could have possibly anticipated.

What is vegan perfume?

Classification for vegan products, including perfume, states that the product must have absolutely no animal-derived ingredients.

Some perfumes can be classified as being vegetarian - those containing honey or beeswax for example - but because these ingredients are animal-derived they cannot be classified as being vegan.

Which animal ingredients are traditionally used in perfume?

Animal products, in their various forms, have been used in the ingredients making up different perfumes for hundreds of years.

While some ingredients were obtained using methods that physically harmed animals, some of the ingredients used are animal by-products.

Thankfully, most of the more harmful processes for gathering ingredients to use in perfumes have been stopped and eradicated - products that smell similar to these products can now be produced synthetically.

Products that you can find in perfume that are not vegan include:

Civet: An African cat-like animal, a Civet’s excretions are collected for use in perfumery to create a velvety, floral scent. This is often carried out using cruel methods, such as enclosing the animal in a cage. 

Musk: Taken from a male musk deer, the odour is obtained from glands. Musk deer populations are dangerously low as people have been hunting them for centuries to produce the complex scent found in many fragrances.

Ambergris: Still used in synthetic and natural perfumes, ambergris is a substance that originates from sperm whale digestive secretions. Whilst whales were caught in the past, this is no longer the case - ambergris can be collected as ocean waste instead of being directly removed from the animal.

Castoreum: This is extracted from the castor sacs of beavers. Beavers were caught and killed for this perfume extract, which resembles a musk scent.

Kasturi: A secretion product from male deer, this is sourced from a gland between the deer’s back and rectum. This gland is removed entirely from the deer for use as a fixative in perfumes.

Truly understanding the processes behind perfume making gives you an insight into what perfumes are viable for vegan lifestyles and which are definitely not.

Now, we can replicate scents in a lab or using a combination of real ingredients without any animal products.

These ingredients are not necessary - you wouldn’t put them on your face if they were included in a beauty product, so why would the same be acceptable in a fragrance? Short answer: it's not.

How to find vegan perfumes?

You’ve asked the question, ‘why is perfume not always vegan?’ and now you have to find an alternative to your usual non-vegan perfume.

While a few years ago this would have been quite hard to do, more and more people are turning towards a cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle - and expect the brands they use to do the same.

With some perfume companies failing to declare all the products they use within their perfumes, it’s hard to fully establish whether a major brand offers vegan, animal and cruelty-free fragrances.

The best way to ensure that whatever you buy is 100% vegan is to only purchase a product that declares itself as being so - most companies are registered as being cruelty-free as well.

Brands such as these will be completely transparent on which ingredients they use in their fragrances and will have absolutely no qualms in declaring these on the fragrance itself.

If you’re unsure as to whether a scent is vegan or not, then you can take the time to check them out yourself. Vegan, cruelty-free brands should be registered with a cruelty-free organisation that certifies their claims.

While a lot of vegan perfumes are natural perfumes, this isn’t always the case - so do check ingredients lists and whether a brand is registered cruelty-free before making the assumption that it is a vegan perfume.

If a brand chooses not to advertise its ingredients, there's a good chance that some of the ingredients in its build-up are animal products or derivatives of some sort.

There’s absolutely no excuse not to be exercising animal rights and taking advantage of the major steps that the cruelty-free beauty industry has made over the last decade.

Progress is progress, but it doesn't have to stop there.

The amount of people on the lookout for vegan, cruelty-free products is definitely on the up and the EU and the UK as a whole has made massive progress in ensuring that animal testing is banned.

The UK has finally established that animal testing is unnecessary in the production of beauty and fragrances - with such a minute difference between the smell of real musk and synthetic musk, as an example, it’s fair to say that the suffering that an animal may find themselves going through is definitely not worth it.

The same quality and intensity can be achieved using much more natural and importantly, cruelty-free methods and this should be the norm.

Why is perfume not always vegan? Hopefully, we answered that question for you. With so many natural, cruelty-free, and vegan fragrances out there, making the switch should be easy. And there will be no compromise on the scent, either.

If you are on the lookout for vegan perfumes make sure you check out ours. Made with real flowers, fruits and spices all of our fragrances are both cruelty free and vegan. It is our promise that we will always be as good to the planet as we can possibly be. Find out more about Shay & Blue’s vegan perfumes by clicking here.