THE PROBLEM WITH VEGAN BEAUTY: WHAT ABOUT BEES?

I think we can all agree veganism is a movement that’s gone beyond the trend status: according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, vegan product launches have increase by 175% between 2013 and 2018. And it’s not just diets that are experiencing an overhaul, as we increasingly also introduce a vegan approach to all areas of life, be it fashion (vegan leather), household goods or beauty (check out my post The Accidental Vegan for inspiration). So what is a vegan beauty product? Simply put it’s a product that doesn’t contain animal ingredients and has not been tested on animals. Although vegan beauty brands still only account for 1% of women’s face skincare, this category is growing at a high rate of 38% (source: Soil Association Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Report).

Bee friendly skincare products

I completely understand the need for cruelty-free products: in this day and age there should be no testing of products or raw materials on animals. The main reason companies still do so is to comply with Chinese regulation and sell their beauty products in China. And most (if not all) traditionally animal-based ingredients have high performing vegan alternatives: moisturising squalane used to be extracted from shark liver oil but olive-derived squalane is a great alternative. And makeup brushes really don’t need to be made out of animal hair. But if, as a consumer, you are looking to protect animals through your beauty choices, I don’t believe beeswax should be avoided. This natural ingredient is a popular choice for balm cleansers, lip products and creamy eye makeup and may be listed under its Latin name Cera Alba. A rich emollient known for its healing properties, beeswax is the substance created from bees converting nectar into wax that forms the structure of a honeycomb, so as an animal-derived ingredient it can’t be included in any vegan-certified product. But with one third of everything we eat depending on bees and other pollinating insects, and the number of bees rapidly declining due to loss of natural habitat, declining wildflower meadows and toxic pesticides, investing in products that support beekeepers is more important than ever. So here is a selection of bee-friendly brands that not only offer lovely beauty products but also give back to bees.

Beefayre hand cream in a tube on rattan mat

Beefayre Honey Lily Hand Cream

I discovered this beautiful hand cream thanks to Leo’s eco-friendly beauty subscription box, and before sharing their bee-friendly credentials I have to give the scent its time in the limelight. The natural sweet smell of honey that emanates from this cream is the best I’ve ever smelt and ensures I never forget to apply it before bedtime. It stays on the right side of sweet without tipping over the edge to sickly. Beefayre gives 3% of profits to bee conservation and research, donating to organisations such as Buglife and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, as well as giving away thousands of packets of seeds encouraging people to create a bee-friendly habitat in their back garden. The founder’s passion for bee conservation really comes through, from the workshops offered to schools to the hand drawn bee designs on all packaging. 60ml RRP £9.95

Hand wash on pink tile in white bathroom

Neal’s Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Wash

I’ve been using Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Lavender Essential Oil as part of my night time routine, however it’s when I worked for a hotel cosmetics distributor developing the brand’s hotel amenities range that I first discovered their Bee Lovely collection, where 3% of sales goes to bee-protecting charities. The main charity that benefits from these funds is Bees for Development, which ‘has introduced bee colonies into cashew orchards in Ghana to boost harvests, after low yields were found to be a result of poor pollination’. To date the Bee Lovely donations have supported over 18 million bees at cashew orchards in Ghana, and counting. Another charity that receives funds from Neal’s Yard Remedies is Plantlife to support wildflower meadows, a crucial habitat for bees but which has seen a staggering decline of 97% in the UK since the 1930s. This hand wash is certified cruelty-free as well as organic by The Soil Association. Although the organic orange and mandarin essential oils give off a slightly medicinal scent (is that just my nose?), my hands do feel gently moisturised thanks to the honey. 295ml RRP £12.50

Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm

Such a staple! I’ve worked my way through a few of Burt’s Bees lip balms in my time, sometimes it feels good to re-discover a simple product you know does what it says it’ll do. With the brand’s story being all about honey and beeswax-rich natural products it makes perfect sense that Burt’s Bees would sponsor the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Adopt a Beehive scheme. The funds help to raise awareness of honey bees and supports research and education projects to help save the honeybee. Funded projects range from breeding bees that are more resistant to the varroa mite to plant flowers for a London apiary. This 100% natural clear lip balm keeps lips crack-free and moisturised thanks to beeswax, and the peppermint adds a fresh kick. 4.25g RRP £3.99

Bee Good Cream Cleanser tube on bee printed cardboard

Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser

Founded by a beekeeper and his wife, Bee Good offers skincare products blending ethically sourced British bee ingredients with active botanicals and plant oils. They only use ingredients such as beeswax and honey which can be harvested without harming bees, avoiding royal jelly and bee venom which can harm or kill bees and their larvae. Bee Good invests in the education of young bee farmers and sponsor beekeeper apprentices, so as the brand grows and needs to buy ingredients outside of its own harvest, it can access local supply of British produce from family-run businesses. The Cream Cleanser contains moisturising wildflower honey, antibacterial beeswax and propolis, an ingredient I’d never heard of. It’s a resin collected by honeybees from tree sap to fill small gaps in the hive and is thought to soothe and heal skin. The perfect touch? A beemix seedball added to my parcel to be scattered onto soil in a pot, garden or window box, creating a mini meadow for your local bees. 100ml RRP £12.00

Are you interested in supporting bees with your skincare purchases? Leave a comment below to let me know.

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