For most of us, the new year is the ideal time to shake things up and try something new in our routines, whether that’s giving a new workout class a go, losing yourself in a new hobby or refreshing your beauty stash. It’s probably no coincidence then, that Veganuary (a challenge that encourages us to try making more vegan swaps in our lifestyle) coincides with the month of ‘fresh starts’.
While I can’t count myself as a vegan (sorry, but I love cheese), I do try to minimise my use of animal products and derivatives where possible in my daily life and always opt for vegan beauty options where I can.
To classify as vegan, a beauty product must be formulated without any animal derivatives, including beeswax and lanolin. You should also keep an eye out to double-check the brand is cruelty-free as these aren’t always categorised together, but in almost all cases a vegan beauty brand will also be cruelty-free.
There’s no doubt this has been made a lot easier by the vast offering of beauty brands that prioritise being vegan-friendly. This once-niche market is quickly becoming mainstream due to rising demand and according to reports, the vegan beauty market is set to be worth more than $20 billion by 2025.
Thankfully, this also means you don’t have to fork out a small fortune to ‘veganise’ your beauty routine. Affordable vegan skincare, makeup, body and hair care brands are springing up everywhere, and I’ve compiled six of my favourite brands in each category, so you can give your beauty routine a vegan makeover.
Best affordable vegan skincare: Skin Proud
There’s no doubt Skin Proud is one of the beauty brands leading the change in narrative around what ‘vegan beauty’ typically looks like. The packaging has nailed a fun, Gen-Z aesthetic, the products are one-of-a-kind, and the formulations are often led by active ingredients that are effective but not harsh on the skin. After all, skincare should be a joy to use, and being vegan shouldn’t change that.
A testament to the brand’s unique approach has been seen on Tiktok, where products such as its Frozen Over Gel-to-ice Hydrator have amassed a huge fanbase. Skin Proud’s website also has an incredibly useful ingredient glossary so you can find out exactly what every ingredient does, why it’s there, and how it can benefit your skin type.
Best affordable vegan hair care: Pacifica
Originating from across the pond, Pacifica has a seriously impressive range that spans skincare, body care and hair care. It’s the latter that I’ve found most impressive from the brand, comprising of both hair styling and hair care products that offer formulations for all hair types.
Whether you’re looking for vegan-friendly creams to keep your curls looking healthy and defined, want to give your scalp some TLC, or are looking to recreate those Malibu-worthy surfer waves, Pacifica has something for everyone. Plus, if you’re bored of minimalism, Pacifica’s products are housed in brightly designed tubes and bottles that are certain to add a dose of California sunshine to your bathroom.
Best affordable vegan brushes: Spectrum Collections
Spectrum’s eye-catching makeup brushes have been a staple in my makeup routine for years, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. The brand was started in 2014 by sisters Hannah and Sophie in their garage in Wales, and since then they’ve gone on to collaborate with some of the biggest makeup artists and brands in the world, including Katie Janes Hughes and Disney.
The finish and designs of the brushes rival that of typical luxury and MUA brushes, but the brand is committed to remaining affordable. Spectrum’s single brushes start at just £5.99, but its sets are even more value for money, and you can often find them with huge savings on its Outlet page.
Best affordable vegan makeup: Ciaté London
You might remember Ciaté from the early 2010’s when celebrity nail artist Charlotte Knight launched her range of super cute and high-performing nail polishes. Over the past decade, the brand’s popularity has exploded as it expanded into makeup and makeup-skincare hybrid products. The Ciaté love is shared across the beauty team, with the Ciaté Dewy Skin Tint holding a firm place as Beauty Editor Rebecca’s favourite base product.
If colour products and creativity are what you look for with your makeup, Ciaté’s products break out from the norm and inspire you to get expressive with innovative products such as the Microblade Brow Pen and Velvet Cloud Weightless Lip Shadow.
Ciaté’s makeup range is 100% cruelty-free and the majority of its products including its newer launches are vegan, however there are a few products which still contain animal derivatives such as beeswax, so make sure to look for a vegan sticker on each product page.
The brand is a little at the higher end of the high street price point, but its website runs offers throughout the year so you can always manage to snap up its products for less.
Best affordable vegan nails: Barry M
When I was in my early teens, I was obsessed with Barry M. At the weekends, my best friend and I would head down to our local Boots or Superdrug and buy one of its latest nail polish shades to add to our coveted collection. Like a kid in a candy shop, I was infatuated with the range of colours and finishes (remember the crackle top coat?!) that never cost me more than my weekly pocket money.
10 years on and the core values of Barry M have remained the same: you can still pick up a nail polish for under £5, its range of joyful colours and nail care is ever-growing, and the formulations are just as good as any high-end nail varnish I’ve used (a lot of the time they outlast them).
The best part? The brand has been fully vegan since 2020, so you’ll never have to worry about finding a great vegan nail brand again.
Best affordable vegan body care: Sundae
With a brand-new entry to the vegan body care space, we have Sundae. Nope, it’s not an edible sweet treat, although looking at the products you could easily be fooled into thinking so. This vegan body care brand has just launched in the UK from sunny Aus with a range of deliciously scented shower foams in pastel and candy-coloured whipped cream canisters.
If, like me, taking a shower is one of your favourite daily rituals, including one of these delightfully fragranced body foams turns your average wash into an indulgent treat. Aside from the good-enough-to-eat-scents, these foams are formulated with skin-loving ingredients such as kakadu plum and finger lime, so your body will look and smell great.
P.s, these are also a dream when it comes to leg shave day.