The Best Vegan Skincare Products for Summer

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Summer’s coming and we all want to put our best faces forward. It can be challenging to find vegan skincare products without dairy-derived ingredients, and some touting vegan ingredients may not necessarily be “cruelty-free.” On top of that, many companies that promise “cruelty-free” and vegan options have parent companies that still test on animals. Licensed Esthetician and owner of Sauveur Skin Care Sabrina Ewing says, “It’s always been a struggle finding effective skincare products that are completely vegan.” She lists the most commonly used animal-derived ingredients to watch for: yogurt, biotin, beeswax, glycerin, omegas, lactic acid and urea. PETA offers an extensive list, too.

We slathered and lathered in our home testing and came up with these winners. Bonus learning that each of these companies is eco-friendly and independently owned. And knowing no one was harmed in the making of these skincare products makes them feel even better going on.

1. Epicuren

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Epicuren's an independent company based in Southern California and a pioneer in the cruelty free skincare industry. Their Perfecting Sunscreen SPF 27 is mineral-based and fragrance-free, which is good for sensitive skin as well as photo-friendly for those beach selfies (unlike many sunscreens). Despite being zinc-based, it's both light and effective. Their Moisture Surge contains non-animal-derived hyaluronic acid, increasing moisturizing and healing properties for sun-damaged skin. The Eye Serum contains oils and other soothing ingredients good for dealing with allergies, dehydration and dark circles. And for anyone with oily/congested or cystic acne-prone skin, the Clarify Blemish Eraser, an item rarely found in vegan form, is a face-saver. While the brand itself is not entirely vegan, Epicuren clearly labels each of their many vegan offerings.

2. No-Tox Life

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No-Tox Life is a new company started by an allergy-prone mother-daughter team creating handmade toxin-free vegan body care. Their aluminum-free natural deodorants are lightly scented and use natural enzymes to control odor as opposed to synthetic ingredients, which often irritate the skin. Their vegan lip butter is cocoa butter based, which goes on smooth and can be better for those with shea (natural latex) hypersensitivities. For those interested in the charcoal skin craze, they also offer facial bars specific to skin types that will help clear stubborn blackheads.

3. Youth to the People

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Family-owned Youth to the People promises 100% vegan products using cold pressed extracts, gentle preservatives, custom formulations and earth-friendly packaging. Even better, all products are formulated without soap, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrance or added color. The Spirulina + Microalgae Kale Spinach superfood mask and Kale & Aloe Sunflower Oil eye cream are full of restorative antioxidants and phytonutrients. Both smell so delicious, skin will eat them up. Both are extremely calming to the skin and reduce redness and irritation while giving a natural glow.

4. Eminence

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On the anti-aging spectrum, Hungary-based brand Eminence has been focused on organic and cruelty free skin care since the 1950s. If you have spent too much time in the sun over the years and are seeing signs of damage now, their entire Brightening line uses an organic and plant-based alternative to brighten dark spots from sun damage, without the redness or peeling often accompanied by the more commonly used hydroquinone.

5. Sunday Riley

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Sunday Riley (available at Sephora) is a relatively new cruelty-free line started by a Texas-based chemist who has created plant-based products that promise the results of doctor-backed brands, which are often filled with animal-derived ingredients. The price point is a bit higher due to the high concentration of active ingredients unique to dermatologist and chemist-run brands known as “cosmeceuticals.” Her Luna Sleeping oil is an advanced retinol formula buffered with oils to assist in calming the skin's strong collagen boosting properties. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that can cause redness and peeling, especially in the summer months, so this product gives you all of the pros of retinol with non of the cons.

6. Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company

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For hairy faces and extremities, the Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company offers and an array of woodsy and herb-scented lathers, as well as an adorable wet-shaving starter kit—synthetic shaving brush included. The Apricot Scrub by Epicuren preps the skin for a shave by gently exfoliating and opening up the pores, which prevents ingrown hairs. Pacific Shaving Company also offers a great shaving cream that contains caffeine, which stimulates the hair follicles for a deep and clean shave.

7. Dr. Bronner's

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Finally, we can’t forget the O.G. natural soapmaker, Dr. Bronner’s, who have been churning out the Castile soaps since the 1960s. Faves for the summer are the tea tree- based products whose natural anti bacterial oil help control body odor and prevent conditions like athlete’s foot and acne. You can’t beat their multi-use efficiency (great for cleaning your makeup brushes!) and their stance as an activist company that financially supports “regenerative agriculture, fair trade, animal advocacy, industrial hemp and drug policy reform, and living wages among others.” As the label reminds us, “All one! Always rub toward the heart.”

Shawna Kenney is a lizard-skinned writer living in Los Angeles. Beth Martinez is a professional make-up artist.