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Conscious Colours
Hourglass Cosmetics’ Global Director of Artistry Marc Reagan shares why the brand known for its luxurious and high-performance products has pledged to go 100% vegan by 2020

What is cruelty-free make-up and what is vegan make-up?

Right now, what cruelty free means is avoiding animal testing. So there are particular markets that require it still, and so what our founder [Carisa Janes] has done since the beginning is pledge to be cruelty free, so we've never tested on animals, no matter what the product is. But of course sometimes that's not enough; people are also looking for vegan products, pertaining to derived ingredients. We've now made the pledge that by next year, every single product is going to be vegan.

Why would people who aren't vegans, diet-wise, care about vegan make-up?

I don't think that any brand that's making that commitment is asking people to care, but I think that it is bringing in a whole new pool of clients that do care and are searching specifically for that, because they might be choosing a lifestyle, or they just feel like it's not necessary for their products to be [using animal products]. I think that it's really just about people educating themselves and becoming a lot more aware of where their products are coming from. And that's also why it's important, because Carisa also sees it as an opportunity to elevate our innovation, [to show] that you don't have to use animal byproducts to still have high-performance products.

What are some of the common animal-derived ingredients used in make-up?

Some of them are as easy as beeswax, which for some people seems quite harmless, but it's not the definition of vegan. It can't come from an animal. So beeswax, lanolin, carmine is a big one, a very strong pigment that comes from beetles. There are just these things that are used because of their efficacy and saturation level and pigments, but Carisa has pledged to reformulate everything and find the new technologies and alternatives that perform exactly the same.

To get everything vegan by 2020, your product teams must have been working on this for some time now.

So the great thing was when Carisa made the pledge in 2017 to be 100% vegan by 2020, about 80% of the products were already vegan. It was taking some of the less well-known products and finding ways to re-innovate them. Most of the brand was already there, which was pretty cool.

Is this cause more important in certain markets than others? There are some countries that actually still require animal testing these days.

Of the markets that I've visited, definitely in the US, it's a huge shift and trend. [In countries where] you see more options in diet and in food, that's where you're going to see a bigger conversation about where are my products coming from, where is the social responsibility behind the brand. And so I see it actually every time I mention it in a press interview or in a crowd, you do see everyone's ears perk up because it is something that people realise, oh that's actually really cool. That's a great commitment to make. It can be a pleasant surprise, you can be vegan and still offer these amazing textures. It's sticking to your guns and staying true to your purpose. Carisa feels like that integrity of the brand and product is more important than strict business growth. Both have to occur, but you can do it in a responsible way.

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