As awareness of veganism spreads, more beauty brands are taking an ethical approach to the development of their cosmetics and hair treatments, formulating them with vegan-only ingredients. Here are some options that are available in the UAE.
The Organic Glow
(See picture above) When Leena Al Abbas founded the Organic Glow Beauty Lounge in Jumeirah Village Circle, Dubai, in 2010, it was positioned as the UAE's first eco-friendly and organic salon. Al Abbas, who has been a vegan since 2008, was motivated to create a space where women could book affordable, healthy and safe beauty treatments, without harsh chemicals and toxins, since she herself would often suffer from chemical reactions after getting her hair coloured at reputable UAE salons.
"I wanted to increase awareness among women in the UAE – you can still enjoy beauty treatments, whilst being compassionate," she says.
In keeping with its green theme, the salon's vibe is warm and relaxing, with leafy plants, wooden touches and an earthy colour palette of green, brown and orange in its interiors. The salon's retail section stocks vegan hair products by Alterna Haircare and nail products by Zoya, and the treatments are all vegan-friendly.
"Vegan products and ingredients can easily be incorporated into treatments, by swapping animal-based products with plant-based products. For example, honey in facials can be swapped with maple or date syrup, and instead of using milk for body treatments, nut milks can be used. It is very easy to find alternatives," Al Abbas explains.
Treatments are pregnancy-friendly, and home services are also available.
Australian brand Oxy-max is best known for its stabilised oxygen concentrate, which is formulated from ionically-activated water and Himalayan crystal salt. The brand also has a wellness range comprising skincare products fortified with stabilised oxygen, promising to nourish and hydrate the skin, promote collagen-production and aid anti-ageing. The range is vegan, containing 100 per cent Australian-sourced natural ingredients. Best-selling products such as its Rejuvenating Rose Clay Mask, White Tea Hydration Toner, Uplifting Eye Bright Cream and Fortifying Vitamin Booster Serum, will be available from next month on the new GCC-targeted website MissPalettable.com.
The portal will stock globally-sourced beauty brands that are both environmentally and animal friendly. Along with the Oxymax wellness range, expect to find skin and hair treatments by Kama Ayurveda, which incorporate ingredients such as coconut oil, cinnamon, cardamom and sesame. Oils and elixirs by Spanish brand Mi Rebotica, and serums and creams by Italian brand Abeauty, will also be available on the site.
Reine Michi Beauty
A home-grown vegan skincare brand by Dubai-based public relations executive Zainab Imichi Alhassan, Reine Michi Beauty creates products in small batches from natural and ethically-sourced ingredients, with the aim of highlighting the natural beauty of its customers. "I believe that the key to amazing and glowing skin is to keep your skincare routine simple, which is why our products usually don't have more than four to five ingredients," says Alhassan. "Judging by the feedback we have received so far, it is evident that other women in the UAE share this belief."
The brand launched earlier this year with its Moisturising Sugar Scrub (Dh50), formulated with sugar, coconut oil and lavender essential oil, and has just launched its body-cleansing sponge (Dh70), produced from nylon. Both are available at www.reinemichibeauty.com. Upcoming products from the local beauty label include a coffee scrub and face mask.
New York-based make-up brand Tarte Cosmetics is known to offer paraben- and gluten-free products, many of which are also vegan. Its new-season launches at Sephora, which are available in UAE stores now, include a stick-form of its Amazonian Clay Foundation (Dh185). Available in 12 shades, this is formulated with vitamins C and E, and Amazonian clay, and provides long-lasting full coverage. If you buy lighter and darker shades, they can be used to contour and highlight, and the stick can also be used as a spot concealer.
Another new launch from the brand is its Maracuja Oil (Dh220), packaged in a small purple bottle with a wooden-capped dropper. The hydrating oil can be used to moisturise the face and is safe to use on oily or acne-prone skin. It can also be mixed in with foundation to give your skin a fresh, dewy appearance. In addition, the multipurpose Maracuja Oil can be applied to split ends and cuticles.
Known for creating cosmetics that are fresh and handmade, Lush is a 100 per cent vegetarian company and claims that more than 80 per cent of its products are vegan. Its colourful bath bombs, which dissolve in water leaving a swirly trail in their wake, are uber-popular, and this summer, the brand launched something similar – but for the mouth. Its new mouthwash tabs are meant as alternatives to liquid mouthwash, and are completely vegan. They come in 100 per cent recycled and recyclable bottles. To use, you place one on the tip of your tongue, before taking a sip of water, after which you bite on the mouthwash tab, swish the liquid around and spit it out. Claiming to be the world's first solid mouthwash solution, the tabs are available in three flavours. Crème de Menthe is cool and minty, Ugai brings about a fizzy taste similar to that of tonic water, and Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster combines green tea and sea salt flavours.
The mouthwash tabs cost Dh65 per bottle, and are also available within the Lush Summer Box.
California-based brand Daily Concepts produces wash cloths, scrubs and massage brushes with a decidedly eco-friendly edge. Its range of Konjac Sponge products are created from 100 per cent natural konjac root, obtained from a South-East Asian plant known as konnyaku in Japan. The sponges are vegan, cruelty-free, allergy-tested, and void of preservatives and other chemicals.
The Konjac Sponge by Daily Concepts is available in plain, charcoal or turmeric editions. Charcoal helps with deep-cleaning, exfoliating and purifying the skin, while turmeric has healing properties and can help to tackle dry skin. Daily Concepts sponges cost Dh70 to Dh75 each and are stocked at Waitrose and Spinney's stores in the UAE.
The brand's vision is holistic and community-focused. Daily Concepts has partnered with San Francisco-based non-profit organisation Lava Mae, which provides bath kits and hygiene services to the city's homeless residents who don't have access to showers and toilets. In addition to supplying bath and body accessories for the Lava Mae hygiene kits, Daily Concepts provides financial support to the NGO.
Rahua hair products
Mainstream hair products are some of the biggest proponents of toxins and chemicals in the beauty industry. Luxury haircare label Rahua, however, creates products that contain plant-derived, vegan formulas, without any chemical fillers or silicon. Everything is also cruelty-free and gluten-free.
The brand is inspired by the Amazon rainforest, where rahua oil was used by the Quechua-Shuar tribe. This oil helps with bonding, repairing and smoothing, and is infused in many of Rahua's hair products – including its Omega 9 Hair Mask (Dh480). Especially effective during the summer months, the hair mask rejuvenates dull and damaged hair, strengthens the strands and adds a glossy shine. It also has a refreshing scent of lavender and eucalyptus. The treatment should be applied weekly and left for 10 to 15 minutes after shampooing your hair.
Rahua haircare products are available at House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols – Dubai, and online at www.beautifulbrands.ae