The 10 Best Vegan Moisturizers Out There
When you think about it, moisturizer is kind of magical, isn’t it?
Sure, it’s fun to indulge in colorful vegan and cruelty-free makeup that lets us get creative and expressive. But moisturizer does so much heavy lifting: it’s what helps keep our skin healthy in the long run, preventing premature aging and other signs of damage from the elements.
But finding the best moisturizers for your skin isn’t always an easy task—especially when you’re looking for the best vegan moisturizers, too.
What isn’t vegan about moisturizer?
Just like with food, many moisturizers needlessly contain products derived from animals. Sometimes these ingredients are byproducts from industrial farming or other such industries, while at other times animal ingredients are specifically harvested for use in cosmetics.
No matter how you cut it, moisturizers with animal ingredients wind up causing a lot of harm. Here are just a few commonly used animal-based moisturizer ingredients:
Beeswax: We all know that beeswax comes from bees. You might be thinking: so what? They’re just bugs.
But bees have been shown to have complex inner lives, including memory and culture. So it’s not really fair to disrupt their lives for our benefit. Farming bees requires keeping them in captivity, and many have their wings cut. Sometimes they are killed as part of the process of collecting beeswax.
Ultimately, bees deserve better than to be used for their wax (or honey, for that matter!).
Tallow: There’s no getting around the cruelty of tallow: it is the rendered fat of slaughtered animals. This ingredient is predominantly sourced from the industrial farming industry and can include fat from cows, pigs, and sheep.
Tallow is used as an occlusive, meaning that it forms a barrier on the skin that retains moisture and prevents moisture loss.
This might be useful, but why would we want to rub animal fat onto our faces when we can get the same benefits with purely botanical ingredients instead?
Squalene: Often harvested from the livers of sharks, squalene is sometimes used in moisturizers due to its anti-aging properties.
Fortunately, vegan alternatives to squalane are becoming way more popular in skincare, including plant-based versions made from ingredients such as olives or wheat germ.
Still, you’ll want to be mindful when perusing labels. If the product doesn’t carry a “vegan” label and includes squalene, then it might be the sharky version of the ingredient.
Vegan products are just as good!
Whatever benefit you are seeking from a moisturizer, plant-based ingredients can so easily and effectively replace those that are animal-derived. The truth is that vegan products will give you everything you need for healthy, protected, hydrated skin, minus the cruelty inherent in animal products.
By using vegan skincare products, we can feel confident knowing that not only is our skin nourished by botanicals grown from the earth, but also that no animals are suffering for our pursuit of skin health and beauty.
Best vegan moisturizers
Here are some of our favorite vegan moisturizers—and all of these are cruelty-free, too, meaning that they were not tested on animals.
The golden liquid wax found in the seeds of the jojoba plant shares a molecular structure with natural oils found in our skin—pretty amazing, right?
The Jojoba Company’s Ultimate Day Cream contains this special ingredient that smoothes fine lines and wrinkles while protecting skin from environmental damage, leaving you with a glow so radiant you may want to forego makeup. The cream also promises increased elasticity, moisture retention, and a visible reduction in skin sagging.
Earth Harbor, a favorite among fans of all-vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics, crafts its Mermaid Milk moisturizer from healthy plant-based ingredients including spirulina and matcha, and is choc-full phytonutrients and antioxidants.
This formulation is good for all skin types and is especially helpful for treating dehydrated and dull skin, redness, and enlarged pores. The non-greasy formula absorbs quickly into skin easily, leaving a demi-matte finish so you can use it immediately before applying your makeup.
With anti-aging ingredients including argan oil and derivatives of red wine grapes, Kahina Giving Beauty’s Face Cream offers benefits such as decreased redness and protection from environmental free radical damage.
Many of the wholesome botanical ingredients come from organic farms, including rose flower oil, geranium leaf and flower oil, aloe vera leaf juice, and sunflower seed oil. Plus, the company donates 1% of its annual revenue to organizations that directly benefit women and their families—so you can help people with your purchases while you are helping yourself and the animals!
Crafted in Sweden, this moisturizer contains niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that keeps skin firm and healthy, helps with moisture retention, reduces redness, regulates oil production, and protects skin from sun damage. Talk about a vitamin that really does it all!
This cream can be used in the morning and at night, and benefits combination, dry, mature, oily, and sensitive skin types. And because it was made in Sweden, the cream is designed to be effective in both cold and warm weather.
If you demand a lot of your moisturizer (including a good price), Pacifica will likely meet all of your requirements.
This Vegan Ceramide Barrier Face Cream is fragrance-free, allergy- and sensitive-skin tested, comes in an environmentally friendly glass jar, and is formulated to abide by the National Eczema Association. The animal-friendly ingredients include vegan ceramides, amino acids, and shea butter to hydrate; oat kernel flour and calendula that soothe skin; and niacinamide to help balance oils. What you won’t find in this moisturizer are parabens, phthalates, SLS, and mineral oil—all things that are on Kinder Beauty’s “dirty” ingredients list.
We all love the sun, and it may be tempting to step outside without protection from damaging UV rays. But this is a huge no-no! Adding SPF to your skincare routine can go a long way towards things like preventing premature aging and skin cancer.
If you like to keep your morning routine as simple as possible, or you have trouble remembering your sunblock, you can cut out a step by using a moisturizer that already has sunscreen in it. Fenty Skin’s Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer has an SPF of 30 so it offers you some protection from the sun’s damaging rays. This non-comedogenic moisturizer, which has a fresh melon scent, is oil-free and for all skin types.
With ingredients including sweet almond oil, carrot seed oil, shea butter, jasmine, and lavender, this face cream is crafted with a delightful blend of skin-nourishing botanicals and is formulated for all skin types. It’s also highly concentrated, so a little will go a long way, giving you extra bang for your buck.
Because all of Nectar’s products are vegan and cruelty-free, you can rest assured that no suffering will be involved with this step in your skincare routine.
A mainstay in many health food stores, Weleda’s vegan offerings include this light day cream that will instantly refresh your skin. Delicious-sounding plant-based ingredients abound in this fast-absorbing cream that contains pomegranate oil, golden millet, and macadamia nut oil.
Benefits of the cream include reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and giving skin a smooth look and feel. Put some on in the morning, and toss it in your purse for a refresher later in the day.
All-vegan and cruelty-free Milk Makeup offers a simple yet effective solution for daily skin hydration. Its fragrance-free face moisturizer is free from parabens, silicone, gluten, and of course, any animal products. Give this one a try if you have normal to dry skin.
And, bonus: both sizes of the moisturizer come in TSA-approved packaging, so you can toss it into your carry-on luggage for a little mid-trip hydration.
As important as it is to moisturize in the morning, it’s just as crucial to moisturize at night, too. And while it’s totally fine to use the same product for daytime and nighttime wear, it can be a good idea to opt for a more potent product before bed.
This night treatment is formulated to strengthen the skin’s barrier and repair damage caused during the day. The vegan and cruelty-free formulation is also non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types. Just smooth a few dots of the luxurious cream into your skin before retiring for the night and let it do its magic while you slumber.
Moisturizers tend to be the unsung heroes of any skincare regime, so make sure to choose yours thoughtfully! With plenty of vegan, clean, and cruelty-free options to choose from, you’ll be able to find the perfect moisturizer for your ritual.
Please note: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet all of our strict brand standards for curation in one of our boxes.
Maya Gottfried is the author of books for children and adults, including Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.