Cosmetics and make-up play an intrinsic part in our lives in today’s world. It adds elegance to our appearance, and there’s no harm in applying a bit of eyeliner or lipstick to make ourselves feel confident right?

Wrong. The sad truth is there is a lot of harm to animals that goes into most of the products we use. It can be quite astonishing to find out how many animal by-products are squeezed into cosmetics these days and given misleading names for the sake of sales. To give you a sense of the exploitation, here is a small list of animal by-products that have probably gone into one’s make-up kit.


Animal by-products in lipstick include cochineal dye which is obtained from cochineal beetles (that produce an intense red dye when crushed), guanine (crushed fish scales), and tallow (or animal fat) which is obtained by boiling carcasses of slaughtered animals.

2.Eye Make-up-

Also contains guanine and animal fat. Sometimes squalene, which is a substance extracted from shark liver.

3.Nail Polish-

Most shimmery cosmetics, like nail polish or lipstick, contain guanine obtained from fish scales, mostly herring. Also sometimes listed as “pearl essence”, it is one of the four base components of RNA and DNA.


Similar to tallow, gelatin is the boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of animals. Estrogen is found in restorative creams or lotions. It is extracted from pregnant horse urine (yes, you read that right).


Along with estrogen, perfumes sometimes use ambergris, which is a waxy oil usually derived from whale stomach.

6.Make-up remover-

Lanolin is the excretion from wool-bearing mammals and is found in most makeup removers.

7.Shampoo and conditioners –

We have all heard of Keratin, a new trend in the hair-care industry. Keratin is derived from hooves, animal hair, horns, scales, and other keratinized animal parts.


Most toothpastes contain glycerin that gives its paste-like quality to it. It is cheaper to obtain glycerin from animal bones than plants and many a time, unknowingly, we start the day with animal bone marrow in our mouths.


Next time you use any of these cosmetics, make sure to read the ingredients to know what exactly it is you’re applying. There is however significant progress being made to curb the abuse of animals for cosmetics.

Following the removal of animal tests from the cosmetics testing standards by the PCD 19 Cosmetics Sectional Committee of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in 2013 in India, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has now published the cosmetic testing ban. This marks a significant victory for animals in India because while standards under the BIS can change, this addition to the law means that any changes made can never include animal tests. Because the definition of “cosmetics” under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 includes; any article intended for use as a component of cosmetics, the ban on animal testing should apply to ingredients, too.

Now that we know the harm that goes into our cosmetics, I’m sure everyone would rather use a product created by more ethical means. There are companies out there that care and produce cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics. For an exhaustive list of label markings to look out for, check out this article.

Every one of us likes to look beautiful, and it is every individual’s right to appear how they want. We can, however, do this without supporting the exploitation of the innocent beings we share the world with. Cosmetic companies have got away with this kind of exploitation for far too long, and as we become more aware, it is our responsibility to make the right choices. We have our part to play in making our world better.




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