Finding clean and vegan beauty products has become much simpler in recent years with the development of apps and other resources to streamline the process of finding cleaner products with healthier ingredients. The conversation around the health impact of chemical ingredients in beauty products grows louder every day. Here’s why. 

Why do clean beauty products matter?

Most of us apply some type of beauty product to our skin and bodies every day, sometimes multiple times per day. Our skin acts as a barrier to protect us against toxins in the environment, however there are many chemicals and toxins in beauty products that are directly absorbed once we apply them to our skin.

You should know, there are many commonly used chemicals in beauty products that we are learning have a huge and direct impact on our health. Toxic chemicals in beauty products have been shown to cause different types of cancer, developmental delays, reproductive and neurological harm, and disrupt hormones and endocrine levels.

There are more than 10,000 chemicals used to develop beauty products, and only of them 11 have been banned or restricted by the FDA in the US. Other nations have banned more than 1,400 chemicals and contaminants, because they have been linked to the health impacts just described. 

The Toxic Twelve Chemicals and Contaminants in Cosmetics is an article published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which reports that American women use an average of 12 different personal care products containing over 168 different chemicals, and American men use on average six personal care products that may contain over 85 different chemicals. 

Why do products need to be vegan?

Many companies have started the transition to cruelty-free and vegan beauty products. Vegan means that the product does not contain any animal ingredients. Cruelty-free means that the product was not tested on animals in the development or production of the product. 

Animal testing is not required by law, and yet many companies have not updated their policies to eliminate this unnecessary practice. Animals used in the beauty industry for testing live their lives in laboratories and are subject to cruel and painful experiments including skin and eye irritation tests, force feeding of chemical products, and “lethal dose” tests where the animal is forced to ingest chemicals until they die to determine the dose that causes death. 

Animals do not receive any pain medication for these tests, and when their bodies are spent from the inhumane testing, they are killed by neck-breaking, suffocation, or decapitation. 

Animal testing is far outdated. We have other modern testing options to evaluate products with computer models and human cell-based tests that are more predictive and accurate with how a human will respond to beauty products. 

You can learn more about animals used in cosmetic testing by visiting Cosmetic testing FAQ published by The Humane Society of the United States.  

Green Washing

As the demand has grown for clean and vegan beauty products, you might expect that companies are jumping on the band wagon and cleaning up the ingredient lists on their beauty products. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The term green washing means that companies use marketing techniques to manipulate the consumer into believing their products are clean. It is a sales tactic.

Green washing looks like labeling their beauty products as “natural, eco-friendly, clean, safe” and more. The company may also use images and colors on the beauty products such as green packaging and pictures of plants to make the consumer believe that the product is safe to buy.

There is no regulation to approve the use of imagery of terminology on the packaging of beauty products, and often times the pictures of the plants may not even be on the ingredient list. You have to do your own homework to find clean and vegan beauty products. Don’t worry, I got you covered! Keep reading.  

EWG (Environmental Working Group) app

This app is so helpful, and it is free! If you are looking to clean up your beauty products for health and safety reasons, go ahead and download this one right now. The purpose of this app is to share the safety information of the beauty product and its health impact based on a rating scale. The user simply opens the app and uses the scan feature to hover over the product’s barcode. You can also search for the beauty product by typing the name into the search bar on the app. 

The EWG app will rate your product from 0-10 with 0 being completely safe and 10 being highly hazardous. The app further explains the safety ratings by rating 3 categories of risk including cancer risk, developmental risk, and allergy risk. 

I use this app every time I am on the search for a new beauty product. Once I downloaded the app, I went straight to my bathroom and started scanning products that I was currently using. I was shocked at how many beauty products weren’t actually clean. It is so important to make sure you are using clean and vegan beauty products for your own personal health, your family’s health, and to encourage companies that produce beauty products to eliminate animal testing in the development and distribution of their products. 

Think Dirty App

This is another of my favorite apps to help you find cleaner beauty products! Think Dirty is free and user friendly. I find that there are some products listed within this app that may not appear on the EWG app (and vice versa) which is why I find it useful to have both.

Like the EWG app, Think Dirty will show you the ingredients in your products, spot the dirty ones, and give you an overall rating from 0-10 to inform you on how clean the product is. You will simply scan the barcode of the beauty product to receive the rating, and Think Dirty also suggests alternative, recommended products to buy instead! 


Cruelty-cutter is an app you can download to your phone to find out if the product was tested on animals. It’s a similar process as the EWG app where you use the app to hover over the barcode of a beauty product to scan it. The results will tell you whether the product was tested on animals or not.

I really like this app, because they have most products that are on the shelves in their system. There is another feature on the app where you can share if the product is not cruelty-free to your social media to bring awareness about the company’s outdated animal-testing policy. Talk about putting a company on social blast to motivate them to change! 

This app is not free. It costs about $2.99 to download to your phone. The cost for the app is used as a donation to The Beagle Freedom Project. Cruelty cutter estimates that there are more than 80,000 dogs, 20,000 cats, and 110 million other animals currently being tested on in the beauty industry. You can vote with your dollars by downloading this app to support movements to save animal lives, and use the cruelty cutter app to eliminate products in your home that were tested on animals. 

Bunny free

Bunny free is another great app resource to identify if companies test their products on animals. The app is free, and their data comes from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). You can use the app to type in the name of the company you are inquiring about to determine if they test on animals or not. The data is updated frequently, and it only takes a few seconds to complete the search. The app is super simple and user friendly. 

That’s all for today! I hope you find this list helpful for starting your journey to updating your products with clean and vegan beauty products! If you are interested in expanding your clean journey to include cleaning and household products, be sure to check out my post Cleaning Your Home with Branch Basics


Madison Cano is the beaming face behind Motherhood Wilderness. Originally from Texas, she picked up her life with her husband and moved to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains to become a Colorado hippy.

She spends her days adventuring with her husband and little boy and sharing about their experiences to help other families get outside too!

You’ll find her on social media or her blog talking about all things mother health and wellness, plant-based recipes, natural parenting, non-toxic products for your home, and more!