Being Black and Vegan in the UK

Demi Colleen.jpeg

The word vegan is a real buzzword these days. Anyone and everyone is a vegan but let’s look at the stats. The number of vegans in the country has quadrupled over the last five years with almost half of UK vegans making the change last year. Those are pretty impressive figures which shows veganism is not a fad and here to stay. Moreover, vegan beauty sales have increased by 38% this year which has led to beauty brands creating vegan ranges. But exactly is life like for a #brownbeauty vegan in the UK? We met up with beauty blogger, Demi Colleen who gave us her truth on being Black and vegan in the UK.

How long have you been a vegan?

I started as a vegetarian around seven or eight years ago, and became a vegan not long after that. I always envisioned a career working with animals and found it hypocritical to dedicate my time to helping them whilst also paying someone else to inflict cruelty on them for my benefit. I have no right to kill something that doesn't want to die, and generally I find I am healthier and happier without animal products in my life.

What exactly is a vegan?

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. It’s a lifestyle and a philosophy that you apply to all areas of your life where possible. It means exuding all forms of animal exploitation whether that be from food, clothing or even beauty products.

What makes a beauty product vegan?

In order for a beauty product to be truly vegan, it must not contain any animal product or animal by product. None of the ingredients or the final product should ever be tested on animals, either by the brand, it’s suppliers or a third party. (for example, all brands sold in China must undergo animal testing via the government before it can be sold there thus making a lot of well known beauty brands not cruelty free).

What is the biggest misconception about being a vegan?

One of the biggest misconceptions about being vegan, is that all vegans are militant. There are a few activist groups which are quite aggressive with their agenda - it’s not surprising that a lot of non-vegans find them and the lifestyle off putting. Myself and a lot of other vegans prefer to discuss and promote veganism in a different way. We understand it is not always a straightforward and easy to transition and that there are barriers to becoming vegan which require special consideration.

Tell us what the challenges are being a vegan in the beauty industry.

Being a vegan in the beauty industry can be challenging for many reasons. As a Black woman, there isn’t always a decent shade range in the smaller vegan make up brands. Sometimes I can just about find my shade, but there is nothing for darker-skinned people, and so you often have to go for high-end brands which can be expensive and impractical. I often can't impulse buy a new brand without researching them carefully - although this is probably a good thing in hindsight.

What are your favourite beauty brands?

My favourite cruelty-free and vegan makeup brands are Milk Makeup, Make-Up Revolution, ELF, and Lush. My favourite skincare brands are Disciple London , BYBI, Evolve Organic Beauty, Herbivore Botanicals and Dr Dennis Gross.

What are your go-to beauty products?

I also often reach for Herbivore’s Emerald Oil - which is amazing for giving me a glow overnight and calming down redness. I don’t wear a lot of make up but I always seem to reach for my elf 16 Hour Camo Concealer which gives some high end make up concealers a run for their money. I’m also a massive fan of LUSH’s Slapstick Foundation as it gives me a beautiful dewy skin like finish. My routine isn’t complete without Milk’s Matte Bronzer and their new Glow Oils - they’re perfect for those “no-makeup makeup” looks.

You can follow Demi on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also read her blog here.