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Completely vegan and they actually work.
We’re all trying to make our beauty regimes more planet-friendly, whether that be going down the sustainable route and ditching make-up wipes or saving on water, or upping our recycling of empty pots and packaging. The latest ethical beauty movement? Vegan skincare.
Veganism has gone from niche to necessary in recent years, with people proudly declaring their animal-free diets - but it’s not just about food, it applies to our skincare routines too.
With beauty brands launching left, right and centre, it can be confusing to determine which brands are actually producing vegan formulas. But we’ve tried the best vegan moisturisers out there, to find the ones that really do stand up to their non-vegan counterparts (and in some cases, actually perform better).
These are our standout vegan moisturisers:
Usually they come as a pair, but not always. A formula is considered vegan if it doesn't contain any animal-derived ingredients (similar to your favourite vegan food dishes). Honey, beeswax, keratin, collagen, glycerin and squalane are all common skincare ingredients sourced from animals, making them a no-go when it comes to vegan skincare.
To be cruelty-free, a product must not have been tested on animals during any stage of the development process - from product formulation to the finished result. If both are important to you, there are a number of ways to check.
The most obvious way is by looking at a product's packaging for a statement that declares its vegan and cruelty-free credentials. Similarly, brands can pay to be certified by Vegan Action, PETA, The Vegan Society or Leaping Bunny and will feature the organisations' logos.
Products can still be vegan and not certified though (confusing, we know). If you want to be an A* student, channel your inner skintellectual and always check the ingredients list.
To find the best vegan skincare products, our panel of 532 testers tried 39 brands of vegan day and night creams for a period of four weeks, to see how effective they were at boosting hydration and improving fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and pigmentation.
Testers also judged how easy each product was to use, as well as whether it had any impact on skin texture, radiance, elasticity and firmness.
To be included in our round-up, the moisturiser had to either be certified vegan or have a vegan-friendly ingredients list, checked by our experts.
Here are the best of the bunch...
If you’ve been staring at yourself on Zoom calls (no judgement, we all do it) and started to notice a few fine lines, this is a great face cream for stopping them in their tracks.
Not only did 69% of testers see an improvement in fine lines but testers also said skin looked firmer and felt smoother after the test period. All agreed it hydrated parched skin too, with 77% seeing more radiance.
Key specifications Type: Day cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: Mature skin
Wearing SPF every day is a must, and Rihanna has made it even easier with her brand's hydrating moisturiser, which contains SPF30. Unlike some suncreams, this product isn’t thick, but it still managed to leave our testers feeling moisturised and glowing.
Another no-no with an SPF is the white cast it often leaves behind, but those with darker skin tones needn’t worry as 92% of our testers said it blended seamlessly into skin and made a great base for make-up.
Key specifications Type: Day cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: Dry, mature, oily, normal, acne-prone
This moisturiser does what it says on the tin, leaving skin as soft as your beloved cashmere jumper. All testers found it was a thirst-quenching treat, especially those with dry skin.
The texture is on the thicker side, but it sank into skin quickly and didn’t cause any irritation. It also gave 71% of our our panel a brighter, more radiant finish. Testers also said it wasn't greasy or sticky, with 73% finding it was a great primer for make-up.
Key specifications Type: Day cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: Normal, dry, mature, oily skin
Pigmentation is always an uphill battle, but our testers said that this cream made some significant differences in just one month.
It features retinol - so make sure to follow up with some SPF - and our favourite pore-refining ingredient, niacinamide. It also contains hyaluronic acid to help tackle pigmentation from all angles.
Our testers said it managed to hydrate skin without feeling heavy and said the appearance of age spots and pigmentation diminished over the course of the trial.
Key specifications Type: Day/night cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: For normal to oily skin
Helping to smooth and nourish skin as you snooze, this cream will help you wake up to a healthier-looking complexion. It’s formulated to prevent water loss and is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as turmeric and liquorice, which also help improve skin tone and elasticity.
Testers said it hydrated without causing irritation, and managed to improve skin texture overnight. 64% found it left their skin feeling firmer and brighter, too. In fact, testers were so impressed that all agreed they would continue to use this cream after the trial.
Key specifications Type: Night cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: Dry, dehydrated skin
Featuring a natural retinol alternative, bakuchiol, this night cream targets everything from fine lines to dark spots, and gently exfoliates skin as you sleep.
Our testers reported waking up with some serious glow and said skin looked more plumped. It helped to smooth the skin too, leaving it with a softer feel, and some noticed added firmness too.
Key specifications Type: Night cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: Dull skin
Coming in a handy portable tube, this face cream is a lot more convenient to pack in an overnight bag than some of the glass jars on our list.
It delivered on skin results too, leaving 69% of our testers with a more dewy, brighter appearance. When it came to hydration, 94% said if left their skin feeling more nourished. Key specifications Type: Day cream Size: 30ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: All skin types
Packed with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides, this cream aims to restore skin and leave it looking plump.
Our testers said the thick, creamy texture was a treat to apply to skin, and it helped increase moisture levels. Despite being deeply moisturising, 77% agreed is soaked into skin quickly (so you don't end up sticking to your pillow during the night). A little went a long way too, so it's worth the initial investment.
Key specifications Type: Night cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: No Designed for: Dry, mature, normal
It can be tricky to find a night cream that doesn’t set off sensitivity, but this one is fragrance-free and aims to strengthen your skin’s fragile barrier to reduce any damage caused by stress, free radicals and environmental aggressors.
Our testers didn’t experience any irritation during use, and 92% found its lightweight texture refreshing and soothing on the skin. When it came to anti-ageing, 54% saw an improvement in fine lines, leaving them with improved elasticity.
Key specifications Type: Night cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: Yes Designed for: Sensitive skin
Rich in antioxidants and omegas, this cream aims to protect and replenish skin. Our testers said it did a great job at calming and soothing any redness and inflammation caused by breakouts, without causing any irritation. The lightweight texture soaked into skin quickly but didn’t leave it looking greasy.
Key specifications Type: Day cream Size: 50ml Fragrance free: Yes Designed for: Mature, dry skin