It seems like you can’t turn on the television or flip through a magazine without being bombarded with advertisements for moisturizers to combat dry skin – especially those products specifically meant for the face. It might lead you to ask “is facial moisturizer really necessary?”
In a word, yes.
While our skin naturally produces sebum, which serves as a protective layer against viruses and bacteria, this protective and moisturizing coating is often stripped away when we wash our faces with soap and other cleansing products.
This leaves the skin on our faces susceptible to unwelcome allergens and antigens, effects of the elements, and pollution. Yikes!
You can think of your freshly washed, cleansed face like a wall in a home. If the wall has cracks, they might allow wind, water, and uninvited critters inside. When you use moisturizer, it serves to seal up the cracks, keeping out any harmful elements or uninvited guests (in this case, bacteria or allergens).
By moisturizing your face, you’ll keep skin healthy and hydrated.
Types of Facial Moisturizers
On the whole, facial moisturizers can be separated into three groups: day creams, night creams, and lotions.
While the functions of day and night creams don’t differ much (your skin can’t tell time), each cream contains benefits based on what you might be doing at different points during the day or night.
While you’re active during the day, your skin is subject to damaging UV rays, pollution, environmental stress, and makeup, so day creams are usually designed with protection in mind. They often contain SPF for protection from the sun’s harmful rays, caffeine for firming, and are intended to provide a smooth canvas for makeup application.
Meanwhile, night creams tend to contain powerful moisturizers that are slowly absorbed by your skin and center mostly around hydrating your skin. Because there is no concern about sun exposure, they contain ingredients like retinol and glycolic acids, which can do their work at night without the interference of ingredients in sunscreen.
More on the differences between day creams and night creams here.
Lastly, fluids and lotions can be used as an “all-purpose” moisturizer, often less intense and targeted than day or night creams, but are lightweight and perfect for all-day moisturizing.
Purchasing A Cruelty-Free Face Moisturizer
For people leading a cruelty-free lifestyle, there are a few things to be aware of when shopping for the perfect facial moisturizer. This includes not only the ingredients in the product itself but also the testing practices of the company that produces it.
Sometimes, companies use animal products to keep human skin healthy and hydrated – kind of an unfair trade if you ask us.
When you’re scanning the ingredient list of your moisturizer, avoid any product that contains cerebrosides, which are fatty acids that cover the nerves, and are often derived from brain tissue.
Squalene is an oil derived from shark livers, and can sometimes make an appearance in moisturizing beauty products, as well as milk proteins. You can keep PETA’s entire list of animal-derived ingredients on hand for when you’re looking for vegan beauty products.
Vegan beauty products don’t just mean a squeaky-clean ingredient list – it’s also important to only buy from companies that do not test on animals, and are designated as cruelty-free.
Even if a product doesn’t contain ingredients derived from animals, some companies engage in cruel and barbaric animal testing, which can include rubbing a product or ingredient into the eyes or skin of laboratory animals, or forcing them to ingest certain ingredients as a test of toxicity.
With so many words and phrases used in moisturizer marketing that may or may not mean a product is animal-friendly, the cosmetic aisle can feel a little overwhelming.
However, we’ve compiled a guide to vegan-friendly facial moisturizers, whether you’re looking for a day or night cream, or a simple daily lotion.
Read below for suggested products friendly for your face and the animals!
Vegan Day Creams
As we mentioned earlier, day creams usually have SPF to protect your face from harmful UV rays while you’re walking around outside. They tend to be very lightweight – perfect for wearing under makeup – and minimize the potential for greasy or shiny skin.
Wearing a moisturizer with sun protection during the day will prevent dark spots, discoloration of your skin, slow the development of wrinkles, and most importantly, protecting the delicate skin on your face from skin cancer. This benefit alone is more than enough reason to invest in a quality day cream.
Meant for normal to dry skin, this hydrating day cream is rich in AHAVA’s Osmoter, which leaves skin soft and smooth.
It uses the powers of Vitamin E and soothing Aloe Vera to protect skin against environmental damage, and employs the use of Amino Acids, which are rich in humectants.
Users of this day cream give it an overall high rating, and note that it is lightweight, non-greasy, and has a pleasant smell.
It is lightweight enough for everyday use, gentle on sensitive skin, and a good choice for people with redness, blotchiness, or uneven skin tone. This day cream is among the more expensive, but in this case, you truly get what you pay for – the quality and results are spectacular!
Live Ultimate’s Camucomplex harnesses the power of the Camu Camu berry to strengthen collagen and elasticity of skin while eliminating harmful free radicals.
Coconut oil and shea butter penetrate the skin’s surface for deep hydration, and the concentration of vitamins A, E, and F eliminate inflammation and reverse wrinkles from the inside out.
Users of this day cream note that this product is ideal for people who suffer from dry, flaky skin – the product goes on smoothly and completely eliminates frustrating flaking.
Those with irritated skin that has an uneven tone will benefit from the inclusion of white oak extract and orange stem cells.
With a cruelty-free and PETA certification, this day cream by Aya is a perfect choice for beauty-obsessed vegans.
In addition to being friendly to animals, the cream absorbs quickly into the skin, so it doesn’t feel sticky, and uses a blend of natural oils to tighten and restore sensitive skin.
The ingredient list is also impressive, containing over 99% natural ingredients, so you know you aren’t rubbing harsh chemicals into your skin.
Reviewers note that the day cream goes beyond simple moisturizing – it also heals dark spots and irritation from skin conditions like eczema. The natural products make it safe and effective to use on irritated or dry skin.
The cream does have a strong floral scent, so those who are sensitive to fragrances will want to keep this in mind.
A top quality brand, AHAVA makes it onto this list a second time with their Time to Revitalize Extreme Day Cream.
More intense than their regular day moisturizer, the extreme day cream uses minerals from the Dead Sea, Tibetan goji berries, and date fruit extract to firm, smooth, and moisturize skin.
This AHAVA day cream is effective without being too heavy, and reviewers have noted that the texture is “like silk.” There are mixed reviews regarding the scent – some people note that the fragrance is a little too strong – but this seems to vary according to personal taste.
Users note that this day cream is especially effective on aging skin.
Part of Dr. Alkaitis’ organic line, this day cream repairs, heals and protects skin against daily environmental damage.
Reviewers rave over the fact that the formula is non-estrogenic, non-toxic, and non-oxidative, while still giving skin a healthy glow and providing pleasant aromatherapy.
Even users with skin damaged by the sun or chemotherapy wrote about how this day cream healed and moisturized their face, some seeing results within a week.
The scents are mild, and a little bit of the product goes a long way. Like the AHAVA products, this is slightly on the expensive side, but similarly, you’re getting what you pay for – this is a high-quality, high-rated product perfect for everyday use.
Vegan Night Creams
Night creams contain all the moisturizing capabilities of day creams, but do not contain protectants from the sun, and may include retinoids (for plumping) and glycolic acid (for polishing), which might make your skin sensitive to the sun.
Night creams also tend to be thicker and heavier than moisturizers used during the day, as they aren’t worn with makeup.
While it’s not necessarily mandated to have both, many people choose both a day cream and a night cream because they want to reap the benefits of both products. Based on their activity and time spent in the sun, a person may need a product with SPF and antioxidants for daytime use, while they want a product with retinoids for nighttime use.
The products you choose will depend mostly on your lifestyle, and what you want to get out of your moisturizer.
Formulated in Switzerland and made in the United States, Arbonne products are quickly coming into the vegan spotlight, as they are vegan certified, cruelty-free, and do not engage in animal testing.
The Night Repair Creme uses nine major age-defying elements and botanicals and is clinically proven to start working in as little as 24 hours.
The concentration of Vitamin C supports collagen in the skin and helps repair damaged skin.Reviewers rave about the quick results seen by this product – many note that they use the cream before bed and see differences in their skin tone and texture upon waking the next day.
Another winner from the AHAVA line, the Extreme Night Treatment uses Dead Sea minerals and Himalayan raspberry root to improve wrinkle depth, regulate cellular turnover, and improve skin’s texture.
Users note that this product has an extremely pleasant smell, and is light and non-greasy despite being super effective.
The only con regarding this product is that it includes dimethicone, a silicone-based polymer which can coat the skin and interfere with the skin’s natural process of sloughing off dead skin cells, resulting in dryness.
Rich, luxurious, and organic, Dr. Alkaitis’ night creme restores and repairs skin while you sleep, and reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and pores.
The formula is extremely hydrating and nourishing, which makes it perfect for dry and aging skin, that requires a little more TLC.
Reviewers note that this formula is moisturizing, but not greasy, and it’s a favorite of raw food vegans.
Some Amazon buyers note that they have trouble with the pump on the bottle, but this appears to be one of the only complaints users have about the product.
This night cream is a perfect all-around night cream for all varieties of skin types, including mature and aging, normal, oily, acne-prone, and uneven skin.
It combines hydration and firming technologies, reduces age spots, and evens skin tone.
Much of the effectiveness comes from apple stem cells, derived from a variety of Swiss apple tree.
Reviewers note seeing results in skin tone and wrinkle depth in as little as three days, but many note that this is an expensive product for the money.
Vegan Face Creams & Lotions
For those looking for just a general facial moisturizer that’s gentle enough to use daily and aren’t looking for specific benefits of a day or night cream, a simple fluid or lotion may be enough to satisfy your needs.
Gentle and lightweight, most of these moisturizers can be used day or night, under makeup, or in the sun.
They are good products to keep on hand or in your purse for use anytime to keep skin healthy and hydrated.
Many fluids and lotions also contain pleasant essential oils for light aromatherapy to relax and calm you throughout your day.
A lightweight lotion that’s gentle enough for everyday use, Apsara’s Essence of Lavender lotion uses neem and turmeric essential oils to maintain skin balance, both of which are highly esteemed in Ayurveda for beauty-enhancing properties.
This lotion also uses lavender essential oil, which is ideal for all skin types and promotes relaxation as well as a light floral aroma.
The consistency is thin, which makes it easily absorbed by the skin.
Reviewers enjoy the hydrating effects and thin consistency, which goes on smoothly and dries quickly, but some note that the mix of scents – namely menthol and lavender together – can be off-putting if you’re using this primarily for aromatherapy.
Super easy to find online or at your local Trader Joe’s, this lotion is another easily accessible and budget-friendly skincare item.
It’s suitable for all skin types, free of fragrances, oils, and parabens, and is formulated by dermatologists.
This blend uses the power of antioxidants to protect and repair skin while it hydrates, and leaves no shine.
While the formula is gentle and good for eczema sufferers, those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease should know that this product is not gluten-free, and could cause adverse reactions if applied to the skin, depending on the severity of the person’s gluten sensitivity.
An Amazon best-seller, BWC’s facial moisturizer is suitable for normal to oily skin, is free of oils, maintains moisture balance with light humectants, and contains nutrients from essential oils and herbal extracts.
The aloe vera in the moisturizer is soothing, and sweet orange & lavender oils provide a fresh and relaxing scent.
Users should note that because this moisturizer also doubles as aromatherapy, the scent may be somewhat strong.
Lightweight and easily absorbed by the skin, Billy Jealousy’s Combination Code Moisturizer is formulated to hydrate, smooth, and soften skin.
The moisturizer uses antioxidants to protect skin from the elements and harmful free radicals.
Reviewers are ecstatic about the texture of this product – it goes on smoothly, dries in moments, and many write about how it feels like wearing next to nothing.
It has no greasy or oily texture after application and is perfect for sensitive, uneven skin that’s prone to dryness and flaking.
Combining hydrating and moisturizing properties with lifting and firming properties, Pharmagel’s DN-24 Hydracrème lotion works deeply within the skin’s structure to energize cellular renewal.
It speeds up skin’s natural exfoliation process without causing dryness, redness, or irritation, which makes it perfect for sensitive skin.
Because of its lifting properties, this is a good option for aging skin that could benefit from some help as far as firming or sagging goes.
However, users note that the firming properties are much more apparent than the moisturizing properties, so if your skin requires extra hydration, you may benefit from using an additional hydrating moisturizer on top of this product.
Vegan Beauty and Hydration
Thankfully, there are so many options out there for those who have a passion for beauty and healthy skin but do not want to harm animals in pursuit of that passion.
Whether you’re looking for a lightweight cream to protect your skin from the sun, a heavy-duty treatment to use overnight, or simply something to keep on hand as an all-purpose moisturizer for your face, there are plenty of vegan and cruelty-free items to choose from, no matter your skin type or budget.