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Our bodies undergo many changes as we age, and some of these changes unfortunately show themselves in the skin. As biological functions slow down, many of the substances that maintain a youthful appearance begin to deplete. This leads to the appearance of the signs of aging in the skin, including folds and wrinkles, blemishes, and even loss of volume in certain areas. Many individuals turn to cosmetic injectables to combat these signs and to maintain their radiant skin. With the continuing popularity of the vegan lifestyle, many individuals are interested in figuring out whether injectable cosmetics align with the important standards of veganism.
There are 2 factors that determine whether or not a product is vegan. These factors include the ingredients used to formulate the product and the process of testing used to make the injectable safe for human use.
In order for any product to be vegan, it must be made without any animal ingredients or by-products, or any other ingredient derived from animals. As opposed to vegetarianism, this means no ingredients or products from animals, even if that animal remains alive. This includes foods like eggs and dairy, and even materials such as wool, in addition to the more obvious products where an animal is raised specifically to provide the ingredient or material. When it comes to cosmetic products, the ingredients list is the first place to look when determining whether a particular product is vegan or not.
Collagen is a very popular ingredient in many lip fillers. It is a protein that is found in many of the major parts of the body, including the skin and bones, and is a huge contributor of strength and elasticity. When sourced for cosmetic fillers, collagen is typically derived from cows, making it of animal origin. There are non-animal alternatives that have been developed, which are derived from the patient’s own skin.
Botulinum toxin is the main ingredient in the popular injectable Botox. It is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which is most commonly found in soil. This ingredient on its own is vegan-friendly, though botulinum toxin is usually accompanied by human albumin, a protein from human blood, when used in dermal injectables. Some companies may use an albumin alternative, though it is derived from eggs, meaning that filler would still not be vegan.
This synthetic polymer is effective in dermal injections as it helps to stimulate collagen production. The ingredient itself is made without animal products, making it vegan.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is native to the human body and is responsible for maintaining moisture in the skin. As the skin ages, production slows down and skin loses moisture, making hyaluronic acid a popular ingredient in many lip and dermal fillers. Hyaluronic acid can be sourced from animals or can be produced through a process of bacterial fermentation, making it of non-animal origin.
Although a product can be vegan, it is not considered cruelty-free if it is tested on animals. This aspect is where vegans must be very careful in getting information about a product, as a product simply needs to be free of animal ingredients in order to be legally labelled vegan regardless of testing process. Testing on animals continues to play a role in a lot of cosmetic product development. Though some vegans may not put as much importance on this factor, most vegans are looking for products that are free of animal ingredients and that are also cruelty-free in their development. Even if a dermal injectable only uses vegan ingredients, each cosmetic brand uses a different testing process, and so vegan patients may wish to look into the testing standards of each brand.
Though botulinum toxin, the main ingredient, is of non-animal origin, Botox also includes human albumin. Botulinum toxin can be lethal with the wrong dose, so Allergan, the distributor of Botox, tests the Lethal Dose (LD50) of each batch on animals. In recent years, Allergan has reduced animal testing by 95%, but have been unable to eliminate it all together.
Juvederm fillers, including dermal fillers and lip fillers, are made of non-animal origin hyaluronic acid. However, they are required by law to test their injectables on animals, as they are considered medical products. As Juvederm is also manufactured by Allergan, they have worked to reduce animal testing, but are unable to eliminate it from the testing process.
Lip fillers and dermal injectables from Restylane are made of hyaluronic acid produced through bacterial fermentation, making the ingredients non-animal in origin. However, they also test their products on animals
Like many of the other brands, Filorga uses synthetic hyaluronic acid, making the ingredients vegan. On their website, Filorga says they do not test their cosmetic products on animals in compliance with European regulations that prohibit such testing.
Sculptra uses poly-L-lactic acid in their fillers, which is a vegan product. However, like many of the other brands listed, they have conducted testing on animals.
While many cosmetic injectable companies have started moving toward ingredients that are non-animal in origin, the testing process is not as simple. For vegans seeking treatment to reverse signs of aging or increase lip or facial volume, injectables may not be an option. Cosmetic injectables are considered medical products, and as such, are required by law to be tested on animals prior to use in humans. On the other hand, as these products are considered medical devices, you can check the certification of each product for further information from the approving bodies (the FDA in the US, and the CE in the EU).
Find out more about dermal fillers of non-animal origin through our product catalog.
Disclaimer: These articles, and any views and opinions expressed, are not endorsed by Raskel Medical. The articles are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice. Raskel Medical does not check or edit the content of these articles for medical accuracy. Contact your medical practitioner for any medical advice needed.