Not sure if you've noticed but veganism is so hot right now. Seems like every food company is adding a vegan alternative (Miyoko’s butter, anyone?), Greta is begging us all to save the planet by going vegan, Bey and Jay have a 22-day plant-based challenge, and Neflix’s documentary, Game Changers, about badass, vegan pro athletes is one of the platform's most viewed programs.
So what IS veganism?
For starters it’s not just a way of eating (i.e. no meat or animal-derived foods), but a philosophy that spills over into all the things we purchase and consume. For example, vegans don’t use skincare products that test on animals or sleep with down pillows.
When it comes to food, this means vegans don’t eat meat, eggs, cheese, milk, and even some foods you may not expect like honey and marshmallows. In fashion, this means vegans don’t wear leather jackets or sheepskin UGG boots.
And, in beauty, this means making beauty and skin care products without harming animals or utilizing animal or animal-derived ingredients.
Axiology’s founder, Ericka Rodriguez, is an ethical vegan. This means she not only keeps all animal products out of Axiology beauty products, she also refuses to do business with companies or countries that don’t protect animals. Axiology was born out of Ericka’s frustration with mainstream beauty.
The vision she realized was to make a luxury lipstick that didn’t harm people or animals. Here are some things you will never find in Axiology’s ingredient list:
1. Carmine (AKA Cochineal)
Cochineal (or carmine as it’s commonly known) is a red dye that is actually the result of crushed insects. In cosmetics, cochineal is used to dye lipstick, blush, eyeshadow and any other cosmetic product in need of a deep, scarlet red.
Here’s how it works: The cochineal insect is a type of parasitic bug that latches onto prickly pear cacti (its host) in order to extract the sap. The cochineal, which is about the size of a lentil bean, is harvested from these cacti and dried out in the sun. When hundreds of these are ground down to a powder and mixed with water, they release a scarlet red dye.
Many people still herald cochineal as a natural and renewable resource and one that is certainly safer than FD&C dyes that are legally allowed to contain low levels of heavy metals. But we at Axiology choose to keep our lipstick free of bugs. We realize that the cultivation and harvesting of insects for dye products is probably the last thing concerning today’s average consumer, but it’s our approach at Axiology to be free of any use of animal products for aesthetic benefit, regardless of how small these critters might be. In fact, we have created a fully vegan true red lipstick fittingly titled, True, which we are very proud of.
First off, we really love bees! Bees work so hard to pollinate flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Without bees, we wouldn’t have many of the fresh fruits and veggies that we enjoy and depend on for our food. Bees make honey by collecting nectar from flowers and that honey is the bee’s food source (yes, the bees are making honey for themselves, not for us). Beeswax is made by the bees to protect the honeycomb walls (honey is stored inside the honeycomb).
Us humans love honey so much that we steal honey and honeycomb from the bees. At most commercial bee production companies, farmers replace the bee’s honey with sugar water, which does not contain the nutrition the bees need. Without the antibiotoic and antioxidant properties from honey, bees are more susceptible to disease, and this may be a contributing factor to colony collapse. Also, it's not unheard of for industrial bee farmers to cut costs by "culling" hives to avoid feeding bees through the winter.
At Axiology, we don’t believe in stealing what is not ours. We believe in letting the bees keep their own honey and beeswax so that they may survive and thrive. And the more bees there are in the world, the more fruits and veggies we can enjoy too.
Lanolin closely resembles our skin’s own sebum, which makes it highly moisturizing.
Lanolin or “sheep sweat” comes from the sweat glands of sheep. This greasy secretion helps sheep protect themselves against inclement weather. Lanolin is harvested by washing sheared wool in hot water and treating it with detergent. This process is repeated until the wax is stripped of bacteria or impurities, like sweat salts or grease.
When buying a product that is made with or from lanolin, you are directly or indirectly supporting the factory farming of the wool industry where animals are kept in cruel conditions and collecting their wool is done swiftly without regard to the animal's safety. Wool farmers may also engage in the cruel practice of mulesing, where strips of flesh are removed to prevent a parasitic infection called "flystrike."
Though extracting lanolin from wool is not itself harmful, the wool industry is. By buying a product that contains this ingredient, you are still financially supporting cruelty. Even if the sheep isn't harmed in the process of shearing, it will be killed when their production of wool starts to decline or in the process of mulesing itself.
Shark livers contain an oil, known as squalene, which is highly regarded for its moisturizing and restorative properties. Squalene (and its derivative, squalane) increase the spreadability and absorption of creams and lotions.
Most fish have a gas-filled organ, known as a swim bladder, that helps them maintain buoyancy in the ocean, preventing them from sinking. Deep-sea sharks (those living in ocean depths of 300 to 1,500 meters), however, do not have a swim bladder. Instead, they posses an oily liver that allows them to achieve neutral buoyancy without having to expend a lot of energy (the high concentration of oil makes the shark’s liver less dense than water). Depending on the species, a shark's liver can comprise up to 20% of its body weight. Consequently, this puts a huge target on their backs as a prime source for squalene.
Much like the devastatingly inhumane practices that accompany shark-finning, squalene fishermen often extract the animal’s liver only to throw the rest of the remains back into the ocean. The practice is known as “shark livering”.
5. Palm Oil
Palm oil is the world’s leading vegetable oil. To meet the global demand for this oil, more than 14 million hectares of land have already been deforested for palm-oil crops, and that number creeps upward every day. While palm oil doesn’t necessarily come from a living creature, its effects on animals' lives are devastating, which is why we don’t add palm oil to our ingredients.
The Bornean orangutan’s population has plummeted 50% in just three generations and will continue to decline at this rate as a result of palm oil plantations. Deforestation and forest fires force them out of their natural habitats and into the outskirts of forested areas, making them vulnerable to poachers or those working in the illegal pet trade.
Another animal that has conservationists worried is the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, who is similarly in crisis due to habitat loss and fragmentation of forested areas. This vulnerability, coupled with poaching and illegal trade, means that tiger populations are hovering at fewer than 400 in the wild. It is possible that we may witness this beautiful animal’s extinction in our lifetime.
Similar gravity should be applied to the plight of Malaysian sun bears and Sumatran elephants and rhinos — three animals, amongst many, that are experiencing rapid population loss as a result of crop building and plantation preparation. To learn more about palm oil, visit us here.
If you’re not ready to change the way you eat, maybe start small this Veganuary — change the way you beauty :)