For many people following a vegan diet and/or lifestyle, it’s important to understand where the products they use come from, and dermal fillers are not an exception. To be prepared to answer any of the patient’s questions, a medical practitioner should be well aware of the formulations and testing procedures for each product.
Vegan Vs. Cruelty-Free Dermal Fillers — Popular Misconceptions
When it comes to picking a vegan dermal filler or botulinum toxin injectable, it’s important to understand the difference between vegan and cruelty-free products.
Unlike vegetarians, who do not eat meat but still consume eggs and dairy, vegans do not eat any animal products. They also avoid buying products, such as clothing, cosmetics, purses, and other personal items, that contain animal-derived substances or materials. Products that do not contain animal derivatives and that are not tested on animals are considered by many to be 100% vegan. Thus, lots of cosmetic fillers made of non-animal hyaluronic acid can be considered vegan.
A cruelty-free label simply means that the product or brand in question has not been tested on animals. However, it can be difficult to tell if this claim is valid because brands can claim to be cruelty-free even if they have not been certified as such.
Cruelty-free brands fall into three categories:
- Brands that are certified by PETA
- Brands that bear the Leaping Bunny logo
- Brands that are not associated with any certifying body
Unfortunately, as dermal fillers are considered medical products, most of them are tested on animals and thus can’t be considered cruelty-free.
Botox, Dysport, and Other Toxins — Are They Vegan/Cruelty-Free?
Some people may consider Botox and other botulinum toxin injectables to be vegan because they do not contain ingredients derived from animals. The active ingredient in these injectables is derived from microbial proteins produced by Clostridium bacteria.
These injectables also contain human serum albumin, which is a protein found in human blood. Human proteins are not made of plant derivatives, so they are not technically vegan. Botulinum toxin, the active ingredient in Botox, was initially developed as a medical treatment, and animal testing was used to test its safety and efficacy, so Botox is not 100% cruelty-free.
Merz Pharma, the maker of Xeomin, has been working hard to replace its LD50 animal test with a cell-culture-based assay. While this test has been approved in Germany, the approval process is different for every country. In the coming years, the company expects national regulatory authorities in other European countries to follow suit and approve the test.
The company behind the widely used Botox brand also aims to reduce animal testing until it is totally eradicated. Achieving this goal will require rigorous testing over a period of 10 years and up to $65 million in total costs.
Juvederm And Restylane — Are These Dermal Fillers Vegan/Cruelty-Free?
Dermal fillers that use HA may be an acceptable alternative to Botox for vegans who take issue with the use of human serum albumin. However, the companies that produce the majority of HA-based dermal fillers still use animal testing, preventing these products from being considered cruelty-free.
Currently, it can be difficult to find brands that are 100% vegan; however, many companies are switching to testing methods that do not involve animals, so it will be easier to find vegan and cruelty-free injectables in the future. Medical practitioners should always check the product’s label and look for verifiable certifications before using any product on vegan patients. Doctors can also contact their manufacturer or distributor for more information regarding advising their patients.