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Fish Scales in Cosmetics

Wait, Are there Really Fish Scales in Makeup?

Yes, although that question might sound like a pretty weird one, believe it or not fish scales have actually been a fairly common ingredient in cosmetics.

Often sourced from herring, the shimmer found in lipsticks, eyeshadows or nail polish could actually be thanks to crushed fish scales (hint: look out for the chemical names Guanine or CI 75170 on a product’s ingredient list).

A protein with a crystal-like structure, Guanine can offer an iridescent effect, and has even been found in some shimmering shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, and even facial cleansers.

And although considered low-risk for allergies, cancer and the environment by the Environmental Working Group, cruelty-free fans may prefer their cosmetics without a side of fish scales.

Luckily, minerals mica and titanium dioxide provide non-animal derived, vegan-friendly alternatives, and many mainstream brands have taken note.

So seeing as party season is just around the corner, I’ve rounded up some cruelty-free (and guanine-free) shimmering picks:

Nail Polish


One of the biggest brands in the toxic-free nail game, Nailberry creates 12-Free, water permeable, vegan and cruelty-free polishes in a series of beautiful shades, including this party-ready shimmer, Pink Sand.


Similarly, Parisian brand Soigne Nails (appropriately named from the French word meaning meaning ‘well-groomed’), offer a 5-Free formula and up to 85% natural ingredients in their polishes.

Their silvery shimmer shade Cherir is both chicly packaged and perfect for the festive season.

Lip Gloss


A regular favourite on the cruelty-free scene, Tarte Cosmetics is also happily fully on board with the mineral shimmer trend.
For an iridescent (and vegan) pop that can be worn over any lip colour, check out their Tarteist Holographic Lip Gloss.



Managing to bring together cruelty-free beauty with some serious skin-nourishing ingredients, Kosas’s new range of eye products, the 10-Second Liquid Eyeshadow offers a line of 8 shimmer shades.


Ok, so this only comes in one shade- but what a shade it is. Bybi’s Babe Balm Bronze is one of my all time favourite multi-purpose products for the stunning copper shimmer it offers on eyelids, cheekbones, lips, and even collarbones.
Vegan and cruelty-free, this babe uses minerals for its pigment and lasts forever.

Body Oil


And because it shouldn’t just be our faces that benefit from some shimmer I’ve also included one of my favourite French pharmacy finds, Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse Or.

Containing over 98% natural ingredients, as well as moisturising blend of macadamia seed, sweet almond, hazel seed and olive fruit oils, this multi-purpose product also adds a golden shimmer to both hair and body.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you buy a product after clicking on it I may earn a (very) small commission in sales at no extra cost to you. All my opinions are entirely my own, however, and affiliate links never change how I write about or present a product. The money earned from them helps towards the running costs of this site, allowing me to continue writing and reviewing thoroughly and honestly.

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