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The best bargain vegan cleansers | Sali Hughes | Fashion


This was never meant to be a column about vegan cleansers. It was simply meant to be me sharing two excellent bargain cleansers I’d discovered, until I realised that they were both vegan-friendly. Which very much sums up how beauty seems to be drifting: fine ethics do not a product make, and it’s no longer enough to cater for vegans with whatever hemp oil you can get into a rustic brown bottle and charge over the odds.

Vegans are now such a huge mainstream group globally, demanding the same levels of performance and value as any other beauty fans, that many brands are simply weeding out often unnecessary animal ingredients and marketing the results more widely.

Anyway, to the cleansers. Let’s start with the downright cheap, because that’s always gratifying. Primark’s Chamomile And Aloe Vera Balm To Oil cleanser (£3.50, 50ml) is a triumph for the price of a block of Cathedral City cheddar. It applies like any other cleansing balm – massaged into dry skin – but liquefies to a light, runny texture more typical of a fluid cleansing oil. With a drop of water, it emulsifies gently, without any suds, and wipes or rinses away with no tautness. Hardly an innovative formula and it won’t change the world; but it does its job extremely well on a minimum wage.

Avon (which announced at the end of 2019 that it had modified and drastically scaled back its product line in China, to become cruelty-free) has launched Distillery, a vegan range that comes with “clean beauty” messaging that I’m choosing to ignore (honestly, the end to this nonsense can’t come soon enough) and to focus instead on what are very good skincare products. Clean Break (£15, 50ml) is a soft, silky apricot-oil balm cleanser that I frequently reach for. Thicker and more luxurious than Primark’s, it does a terrific job of melting even heavy makeup, then emulsifies with a little water to become a rich cream. It wipes off with a flannel to leave nothing but soft skin. Packaged in glass rather than single-use plastic, it’s everything I want in an evening balm cleanser. In the morning, I use a milk or cream because cleansing a makeup-free face with a balm is a bit like cracking an egg with a sledgehammer (sorry, vegans).

You can, of course, choose plain old coconut oil – plenty do. I just struggle to shift it with my flannel.

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