Award-winning vegan and cruelty free beauty blogger, Nicole Whittle – aka ‘Vegan Beauty Girl’ – aims to make ethical living easier by offering sustainable and affordable beauty product alternatives. Sharing content on her social media sites and blog, Nicole creates awareness of brands which are transparent when it comes to being greener towards the planet. Supporting the BLM movement, she speaks out to encourage her followers to support racially-diverse beauty brands and how this issue needs to be made aware of. I had the privilege of speaking with Nicole about her experience being a vegan beauty blogger and what she hopes the future holds for the beauty industry…
Vegan Beauty Girl Interview By Mads Newton | Vegan & Cruelty Free Beauty
Hey Nicole! First of all, thank you so much for taking part in the Q&A. Let’s jump right in – you have been vegan since 2007, what was your reasoning for becoming vegan?
No worries! Yeah, I went vegan when I was thirteen. I was already vegetarian and spent an afternoon on the PETA website before discovering what a ‘vegan’ was. Once I learnt that animals died in the production of milk and eggs I went vegan overnight.
Initially, did you find it difficult at all to ensure your beauty routine and product selection was vegan and cruelty free? Was it a transition?
For sure, shopping vegan and cruelty free beauty was near impossible back then. Around that age I was still discovering beauty products and was eager to shop vegan, but being cruelty free or vegan wasn’t something companies bragged about at the time. Nor were there many resources available online to help either.
Why do you think it is beneficial to have social platforms which share vegan and cruelty free beauty? What made you do it?
Shopping vegan and cruelty free with beauty can feel way more complicated than changing your diet. With varying animal testing laws around the world and plenty of companies trying to appear kinder than they are, it’s so important to have bloggers and social media influencers to offer transparency and help.
Following, do you think that the vegan and cruelty free beauty lifestyle is much more accessible nowadays?
Oh yeah, definitely. Companies used to avoid labelling their vegan products as such because there was a stigma attached to it – the ordinary consumer would assume a vegan product wouldn’t perform as well. However in the last few years ‘vegan’ has become a beauty buzzword which people associate with being ethical and sustainable and every company wants to brag about it if they can. More and more companies are working hard to invest in cruelty free certifications and reformulating products to make them vegan where possible – so there’s definitely loads more vegan options in the beauty space now.
Out of your Vegan Beauty Girl blog, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, which platform would you say is the most influential and engaging with your followers/viewers?
That’s a tough one! My first platform was Instagram so I guess that’s always gonna feel like the most influential – especially because you can engage with others in so many ways: posts, reels, stories, direct messages… However, I know my blog makes a massive impact too – there are so many questions around cruelty free and vegan beauty that people need answering and I love being able to help at the end of their google search.
Spreading awareness of a vegan and cruelty free beauty lifestyle is definitely a positive message in many ways. Have you ever received any negativity online and how have you dealt with it?
I don’t really find I get much negativity online! Touch wood! I think my followers like that I’m very clear about my ethics and where I draw those lines so they know exactly what to expect from me. I really think exercising transparency as well as being open to feedback is just a nice way to operate online.
Referring to the BLM movement, it is clear you actively want to encourage your followers to check if brands are diverse and fight racism. In terms of consumers, would you say there is a lack of knowledge in supporting/buying products from non-racially diverse brands?
I think what the industry needs is a certification to assure the customer that the brand is meeting some sort of criteria when it comes to anti-racism work. Something that looks at who companies hire, how they go about creating shades, things like that. Something that helps out consumers wanting to shop better. I think @pullupforchange – created by the amazing Sharon Chuter – has done a great job of challenging the beauty industry and I would love to see a certification evolve from this platform.
However, for the time being, I think white people really need to think about the brands that they’re supporting. Do they offer a good shade range with their foundations and concealers? Are their makeup products swatched against a variety of skin tones online? What models are they hiring in their campaigns? If the brand you’re looking at is falling short on any of these, is that really a brand you want to support? Email, message or tweet them and tell them that you won’t be buying from them any more for this reason.
How can someone encourage their friends and family to support more racially diverse beauty brands?
A great way to start is just by having the conversation about why it’s important to support Black owned businesses. Point out how underrepresented Black beauty needs are in magazines, on the shelves in shops and in product launches. Make your friends and family understand why it’s important and their habits should soon change. Also – sounds simple – but be sure to buy, use and recommend products from Black owned businesses yourself.
I’ve seen that you prefer to support smaller brands – what vegan and cruelty free beauty brands would you recommend?
Yes definitely! Supporting small, local businesses is always a great thing to do. Some of my favourite smaller businesses includes Kitaka of London for gorgeous lip glosses, Freedm Street for stocking up on sustainable beauty without breaking the bank and Happy Carrot Skincare who make the nicest cleansing balm.
What advice would you give to someone who has decided to go vegan and needs to ‘veganise’ their beauty routine? Obviously – follow your blog and socials for a start!
Definitely my first tip is to accept it will take time – don’t chuck everything out – just work slowly on replacing one product at a time. Also, when it comes to shopping cruelty free do not trust company FAQs because they can be awful with twisting their words. Instead, look to cruelty free blogs which should be high on the search results whenever you google to see if a brand is cruelty free.
If you had to narrow one down, what is your absolute favourite vegan and cruelty free product? I’m sure this will be tricky!
I’ll have to say Salt of the Earth deodorant – it took me a long time to find a deodorant that works perfectly for me and their Melon & Cucumber spray is amazing! Though it comes in plastic, they do refill containers to make it a bit more sustainable.
The beauty industry is such a fast paced and forever changing sector. What do you think the future holds for vegan and cruelty free beauty?
Hopefully in the next few years we’ll see a global ban on animal testing for cosmetic purposes, making shopping cruelty free infinitely easier! Meanwhile vegan alternatives for common beauty ingredients are forever improving and becoming more commonplace. As we make big achievements in this space, I hope the attention will turn to fair trade ingredients, transparent supply chains and sustainable practices – alongside certifications to verify these ethics.
Thank you so much for speaking with us again, Nicole. What you do is incredibly encouraging and positive amongst the vegan community – Wishing you all the best and good luck for what the future holds for Vegan Beauty Girl!
Lovely chatting! Thank you so much!
Vegan & Cruelty Free Brands Mentioned
- Kitaka of London
- Freedm Street
- Happy Carrot Skincare
- Salt of The Earth
BLM Campaign Mentioned
- Pull Up For Change – @pullupforchange
Check Out Vegan Beauty Girl Online
- Vegan Beauty Girl FB: @veganbeautygirll
- Vegan Beauty Girl IG: @veganbeautygirl
Vegan Beauty Girl Interview By Mads Newton