One of the most powerful aspects of the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry is that it continuously evolves, taking into account socio-cultural and political changes. Brands take cues from relevant human insights and cultural fuels in order to keep providing quality products and services to the end consumers.

In India, the fashion and beauty industry has seen several changes. From Khadi and winged eyeliner making comebacks to the massive wave of sustainability and minimalism to a recent rise in demand for Indian brands, the industry has continuously changed to provide new offerings that would match consumer preferences. One of the latest trends in the Indian beauty industry, something that has been rising since the past few years, is the consumption and demand for vegan beauty products.

While the words ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are often used interchangeably and have similar connotations while talking about the beauty industry, the two terms often denote different ideas. While a vegan beauty product is one that does not use ingredients derived from animals, a cruelty-free product is one that does not test on animals. So a vegan product may not necessarily be a cruelty-free product and vice-versa. In certain countries or regions, vegan brands have to test on animals in order to comply with the legal regulations of the concerned area. However, in the past couple of years, several Indian brands that are vegan as well as cruelty-free have popped up to cater to the demand for the same. The question here lies as to what led the nation to become a part of the veganism movement.

Shankar Prasad, founder and director of Plum, India’s first 100% vegan beauty brand says, “Veganism can no longer be called a trend. It’s a movement, an awakening. And it’s only going to see a rise as the conversation around it gains momentum. We live in an informed age and sustainable living choices which are gentler on the planet while delivering wholesome goodness is what consumers seek.”

 Data from Market Research Future found that the cruelty-free cosmetics market is set to increase 6.1 percent between 2017 to 2023. India was identified as one of the top exporters. The reasons for this tremendous wave are multi-dimensional. On one hand, people are realizing the importance of plant-based products while on the other hand, millennials are more concerned about the origin of the products that they are using. Consumers are now embracing products that are manufactured ethically and are willing to pay a higher price for products that are animal-free. At the same, on the other end of the spectrum, several vegan and cruelty-free labels have stopped exporting to countries that make animal-testing mandatory. Shankar Prasad says, “The wave is primarily being driven by the millennials who are aware, care and rapidly build communities they influence. Growth of e-commerce is providing the platform to push the beauty and self care industry to respond to the needs of the rising ethical and conscious consumers and clean and green is the new adage they live by!”

Monica Chopra, founder of The Eco Trunk, India’s first vegan, cruelty-free portal for lifestyle products, says, “About 2-3 years ago, finding vegan, cruelty-free and ethically produced products was almost a nightmare. But slowly, people are making a shift towards these products because they are getting sensitized to the cause. They are becoming more aware about the benefits of using vegan products and they are realizing that a lot of the products that they buy are manufactured from ingredients derived from animals wherein the animals suffer horribly. Moreover, they now know that they can enjoy good quality without the guilt of harming animals. Our vegan lipsticks, eye creams, face masks are loved and are consumer favourites. From our end as a brand, we aim to consciously strive to curate the best quality products so that the consumer chooses the products for the quality too, not just for the cause. “

In India, more and more celebrities and influential voices advocating for the cause also gives impetus to the same. Shivya Nath is a travel writer and blogger who has written extensively about her shift to veganism and travelling across the world on a vegan lifestyle. She says, “When I turned vegan, I also learnt of the horrors of animal testing (it still happens in this day and age!) and how many everyday products we use contain animal ingredients derived from their flesh and innards. Although switching cosmetics should be easier than a dietary change, the labelling of products often makes it harder to decipher what is animal based and what is not. For most products though, a simple Google search can reveal whether a product is vegan and if a brand tests on animals.”

When asked what are ethical brands that she likes to shop from, on the go, Shivya says, “I love brands like Lush, Body Shop, Forest Essentias and Botanique which tend to use natural ingredients and are usually clearly labelled vegan and free from animal testing. When possible though, I prefer  to buy from small-scale entrepreneurs who use natural vegan ingredients and non-plastic packaging – like Veganology.”

Those who are looking to try out vegan beauty brands for the first time can get started with these brands:

PLUM- India’s first vegan online cosmetic brand crafts products that are paraben-free! Try the cruelty-free make-up and body cream and you’ll be hooked.

SOULFLOWER-  A vegan, cruelty-free brand that sources locally and uses only organic ingredients to craft their impressive range of skincare and haircare products. Their natural oils are incredibly popular.

PHY- A dermatologically tested, 100% vegan specialist grooming range for men. The products range from skincare, bath and body, hair care, beard & ‘stache care.

ALANNA- A vegan brand that crafts homemade beauty products using ingredients that are sourced from accredited organic vendors only.

BRILLARE- An Ahmedabad-based brand that craft vegan skincare and haircare products using 100% natural ingredients.

With a very significant shift towards vegan beauty products, constant innovation and impeccable branding, the Indian vegan beauty industry is truly impressive. The vegan beauty movement is surely a milestone in the history of Indian beauty products.

Have you joined the vegan beauty movement yet? Tell us about your favourite brands in the comments section.