To use or not to use… Whether in food or cosmetic products, the use of bee products such as beeswax, honey, or bee propolis, can spark quite a heated debate among the vegan and cruelty free community regarding its ethicality.
What is Beeswax?
Beeswax is the purified wax from the honeycomb of the bee. It is widely used in the cosmetics and skincare industry due to its powerful healing and moisturizing abilities as well as its non-toxic antibacterial properties.
Can Beeswax be Vegan or Cruelty Free?
Vegans do not consume (to the extent that is possible and practical) any products made by or from animals. Since a bee is an animal, beeswax and honey would not be considered “vegan” by the standards of most who are practicing veganism.
However, there is all too often a common misconception in cosmetics and skincare that the term "vegan" is somehow synonymous with being "cruelty free", and vice versa. But the terms “cruelty free” and “vegan” could are very different and are not meant to be used interchangeably.
The term “vegan” is not regulated in cosmetics, so this doesn’t necessarily mean the product is not tested on animals - it just means there are no animal-derived ingredients or by-products such as beeswax, honey, lanolin, collagen, gelatin, and etc. It also doesn’t mean the product is natural or organic in any way, or that it is free from toxic or harmful chemicals.
To be “cruelty free” means there was no animal testing at any point during the creation of a brands products. However, it’s important that brands are transparent about if they are verifying the third party sources of their ingredients as being cruelty free as well. For example, at Vernal Beauty, we have a very strict cruelty-free and no-animal testing company policy that we implement with all manufacturing of our products as wells as with all of our suppliers and anyone we work with.
Can Bee Products be Ethically Made?
Depending on the origin of the beeswax, it is possible that this product can be ethically and sustainably sourced without any harm being done to the bees or their hives, hence making it cruelty free.
This is achieved by working with fair-trade local bee-keepers who allow their bees to live naturally and free. To be considered an ethical bee farm, this means they do not engage in cruel practices like replacing the bee’s honey (which is their food) with corn-syrup or sugar, they don’t use smoke to force the bees out of their hives, and they don’t cut off the queen bee’s wings (a common practice in factory farms in China where harvesting practices are beyond questionable).
The bee products these ethical beekeepers produce are a by-product of raising the bees sustainably, meaning the farmers only take what is needed and ensure there is always more than enough for the bees themselves to thrive and live happily.
Ethically harvested organic honey and beeswax is even better, as bees often forage 1-2 miles from their hives and an organic certification means they are not coming into contact with harmful pesticides and chemicals.
Why Include Ingredients Derived from Bees in the First Place?
Beeswax and Bee Propolis are both extremely healing and beneficial for the skin. They are naturally non-toxic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, so they majorly contribute to the healing properties of skincare products.
Beeswax in skincare forms a natural protective barrier on the skin which helps protect it from environmental assaults, while locking in moisture and preventing dryness. Unlike ingredients made from petroleum (which is also uber bad for the environment) it doesn’t suffocate the skin and won’t clog pores. It acts as a natural humectant to keep skin hydrated and acts as a wonderful source of vitamin A to rejuvenate your complexion.
On top of this - it smells great! Beeswax has a naturally sweet, honey-like fragrance. At Vernal Beauty, we refrain from using harsh chemicals to make our products smell good when Mother Nature has provided so many amazing natural alternatives that smell even better!
A Collaboration With The Bees
At the end of the day, we should be aiming for a reciprocal relationship with the animals, insects, environment and the world around us. If we look after bees and their natural habitats, we can then feel as if we are collaborating with them instead of exploiting them.