For a long time, silk protein has been a common ingredient in beauty products, making them unsuitable for vegans.
Silk is made by farming silkworms and boiling their cocoons in order to extract the thread that will become the silk fabric. Worms are commonly boiled alive in their cocoons and 6.6 thousand worms are needed to make just one kg of silk.
US-based material innovation company Bolt Threads has already made vegan progress by creating both a leather-like fabric made from mushrooms and a ground-breaking vegan silk material – synthetic spider silk.
Spiders’ webs are amazingly resilient and strong, but spiders have never been farmed for silk as they aren’t suitable for farming in large groups – as solitary, territorial animals, spiders can resort to cannibalism and eat one another if they are forced to live in groups.
Bolt Threads drew inspiration from spider silk to put genes into yeast and use yeast, sugar and water in a fermentation process that creates Microsilk, a versatile vegan silk-like yarn used by Stella McCartney.
Vegan silk in beauty
Now, the company is taking their innovative bioengineered silk process into the luxury beauty industry: the brand is launching beauty range Eighteen B, which today offers two products: Revitalizing Hydrogel Moisturizer and Hydrate + Restore Rich Cream, both infused with B-Silk Protein, a high-molecular structural protein that has properties similar to collagen and elastin, complementing the vital functions of the skin.
This lab-created vegan silk is completely vegan and doesn’t involve any worms. The brand claims that this ingredient locks in moisture and protects the skin from environmental stressors.
Other ‘clean’ ingredients included in the Eighteen B range are natural bark extracts, ceramides and shea butter. The line is free from parabens, sulfates, silicone, petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances. All products are made locally in California.