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Maintaining luscious, vibrant hair is a top priority for many individuals. For vegans, finding hair care products that align with their compassionate lifestyle can be challenging. While some ingredients may seem vegan-friendly at first glance, there are hidden components that can catch you off guard. In this article, we will explore surprising non-vegan ingredients commonly found in hair care products that may appear vegan but aren’t.

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Shedding light on these deceptive substances is important, we can empower people to make informed choices and nurture their hair without compromising their values. So, let’s embark on this unique journey of discovering the unexpected!

Keratin: The Hair Strength Myth

Keratin, widely used in hair care products for its supposed strengthening properties, is often derived from animal sources such as hooves, feathers, or hair. This revelation can come as a surprise to vegans seeking products that align with their values. To maintain a vegan hair care routine, look for products that use plant-based alternatives like quinoa protein or soy protein, which offer similar benefits without the animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Keratin

Quinoa Protein Shampoo

  • Restores hair's natural shine and softness by replenishing it with protein and nutrients
  • Helps damaged hair with essential amino acids
  • Made with 96.4% naturally-derived ingredients
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 13.53 fl oz / 400 mL
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The RIGHT Hair Treatment Bar

  • Rejuvenates, Revives and strengthens hair and scalp
  • Packed with nutrients that improve hair damaged from frequent dying, perms, or curling/straightening irons
  • Contains soy protein extracts, sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and argan oil
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 3.52 oz / 100 g
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Collagen: A Hidden Non-Vegan Protein

Collagen is commonly associated with skincare, but it can also be found in some hair care products, promising to enhance hair’s elasticity and resilience. However, collagen is derived from animal connective tissues, such as bones, skin, or tendons. Vegans who strive to avoid animal products should opt for hair care products enriched with vegan collagen or plant-based proteins like pea protein or rice protein, which provide comparable benefits without compromising ethical principles.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Collagen

Volumize Shampoo

  • Gives body and substance to fine hair, with increased and lasting natural volume
  • Enriched with rice proteins
  • No sulfates, silicones or parabens
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 8.4 fl oz / 250 mL
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Leave-In Repair Hair Mask Treatment

Pacifica Beauty
  • With fermented vegan collagen peptides and jasmine to help quench dry hair’s thirst and restore strand strength and elasticity from the inside out
  • No parabens, phthalates, SLS, mineral oil, sulfates, silicones or talc
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 4 fl oz / 118 mL
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Lanolin: The Woolly Surfactant

Lanolin, a waxy substance obtained from sheep’s wool, is used in hair care products for its moisturizing and conditioning properties. Despite its natural origin, lanolin is not considered vegan. Vegans can choose hair care products that utilize plant-based alternatives like shea butter, cocoa butter, or coconut oil, which provide excellent moisturization and nourishment without relying on animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Lanolin

Raw Extra-Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

Garden of Life
  • Keeps hair healthy and moisturized
  • 100% unrefined organic coconut oil
  • Not hydrogenated, bleached, or deodorized
  • Non-GMO, USDA Organic certified
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • 29 fl oz / 857 mL
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Super Nourishing Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

Coco & Eve
  • Transforms tired, dry, damaged hair into shiny, glossy and smooth hair in one wash
  • From virgin coconuts, fig and shea butter, linseed and argan oil
  • No parabens, phthalates or sulfates
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved
  • 7.2 fl oz / 212 mL
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Stearic Acid: A Fatty Acid to Beware Of

Stearic acid, derived from various sources including animal fats, is commonly used in hair care products as an emulsifier and thickening agent. While it can be derived from plants like coconuts, it is often obtained from animal sources. To ensure your hair care routine remains vegan, look for products that specifically state “plant-derived stearic acid” or opt for alternatives like cetearyl alcohol, which are derived from plant-based oils.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Steraic Acid

100% Plant Based Stearic Acid

Nuvia Organics
  • 100% natural plant based
  • Triple pressed extraction from sustainably certified RSPO palm oil
  • Vegan
  • 8 oz / 227 g
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Revitalizing 3 in 1 Leave-In Conditioner

Sun Bum
  • Helps detangle, condition and protect even the most damaged locks
  • Enriched with coconut oil, banana, quinoa protein and cetearyl alcohol
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 4 fl oz / 118 mL
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Panthenol: The Tricky Provitamin B5

Panthenol, often praised for its moisturizing and strengthening effects on hair, is derived from vitamin B5. However, the sources of vitamin B5 can be both plant-based and animal-based. To stay true to a vegan lifestyle, choose hair care products that explicitly state “plant-derived panthenol” or look for alternative ingredients like vegetable glycerin or plant oils that offer similar benefits.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Panthenol

Vegetable Glycerin

  • Moisturizes and improves the overall health of scalp and hair
  • Unrefined 100% pure vegetable glycerin with no additives
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 12 fl oz / 355 ml
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Silk Protein: The Silken Illusion

Silk protein is often touted for its ability to add shine and smoothness to hair. However, silk protein is derived from silkworms and their cocoons, making it non-vegan. For vegans, seeking hair care products that incorporate botanical extracts like aloe vera, chamomile, or argan oil can provide similar benefits and nourishment without resorting to animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Silk Protein

Certified Organic and 100% Pure Argan Oil

  • Certified organic by USDA and 100% pure
  • Non-GMO
  • GMP quality assured
  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • 4 fl oz / 118 mL
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Honey Extract: A Sticky Non-Vegan Surprise

Honey extract is occasionally found in hair care products due to its moisturizing and conditioning properties. Despite its natural origins, honey is derived from bees and, therefore, not considered vegan by lots of people in the vegan community. To ensure a vegan hair care routine, choose products enriched with plant-based moisturizers like glycerin, vegetable oils, or aloe vera gel, which offer similar benefits without exploiting animals.

Vegan Hair Care Alternatives to Honey

Organic Aloe Vera Gel

  • 96% Organic Aloe vera gel
  • Non-GMO
  • No Aloe powder concentrate, alcohol, parabens, mineral oil, hormones or sulfates
  • Vegan, cruelty free
  • 7 oz / 200 g
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Maintaining a vegan hair care routine is essential for those dedicated to an ethical lifestyle. By familiarizing ourselves with these hidden non-vegan ingredients, we can make informed choices and ensure our hair care products align with our compassionate values. Always remember to read labels carefully, look for vegan certifications, and explore cruelty-free alternatives that use plant-based ingredients. With these considerations, you can achieve beautiful and healthy hair while staying true to your vegan principles.

Vincent P.

With a keyboard as my compass and a heart for sustainable beauty, I curate a blog that's a treasure trove of plant-powered wisdom, unlocking your hair's true, eco-conscious potential.

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